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First Ever Funerary Garden Dug Up in 4,000-Year-Old Site in Egypt

May 12, 2017 05:59 AM EDT
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For the first time ever, scientists were able to unearth a funerary garden on the Dra Abu el-Naga hill in Luxur, Egypt. The funerary garden -- which reveals more about the ancient kingdoms of Egypt -- is dated to be 4,000 years old, according to a report Science Daily.

It wasn't a big surprise that such Egyptian funerary gardens existed since illustrations have been found in tombs and tomb walls during previous excavations. However, a physical funeral garden has never been found until now.

"This is the first time that a physical garden has ever been found, and it is therefore the first time that archaeology can confirm what had been deduced from iconography," lead researcher Dr. Jose Manuel Galán from Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) explained. "The discovery and thorough analysis of the garden will provide valuable information about both the botany and the environmental conditions of ancient Thebes, of Luxor 4,000 years ago."

The rectangular funerary garden was found in an open courtyard at the entrance of a Middle Kingdom tomb that's likely from the Twelfth Dynasty, 2,000 B.C.

It's raised about half a meter above the ground divided into grids measuring about 30-square-centimeters each. Experts say that different plants and flowers may have been planted on these small beds. In the center, two beds are raised a little higher than the rest.

One corner of the funerary garden had a tamarisk shrub still standing with its roots and trunk. Lying beside it was a bowl with dates and other fruit.

Researchers are still trying to identify the plants grown in the Egyptian funerary garden, which would likely reveal more about the religious beliefs and practices during the Twelfth Dynasty, the period when Thebes became the capital of the unitified Upper and Lower Egypt.

Also found were a small mud-brick chapel from the Thirteenth Dynasty.

"These finds highlight the importance of the area around the Dra Abu el-Naga hill as a sacred centre for a wide range of worship activities during the Middle Kingdom," Galán said. "This helps us understand the high density of tombs in later times as well as the religious symbolism that this area of the necropolis holds."

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