Ancient Egypt

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The surviving sources about the gardens and parks of Ancient Egypt relates to 2780-2550 B.C. and 2160-1788 B.C.  A key feature of the gardens was the architecture, which was characterized by its grandeur. Ancient Egypt is considered one of the first countries where the skill of the creation of gardens and parks arose. Because of the floods in the Nile Valley it was only possible to grow agricultural plants. The first artificial terraced gardens in Ancient Egypt appeared at the elevated locations that the water of the Nile could not reach during floods and in the places with a deficiency in moisture and vegetation. Because of this the need for the irrigation of those areas arose and it was solved by the creation of channels. Alleys with shady trees and  bushes were stretched along the channels, this helped to decrease the evaporation of water, provided shade and freshness. The vineyards were located next to the gardens. Silkworm trees were planted along such channels, sycamore, date palm, tamarisk, walnut, poplar, fig tree, almonds and resinous wood grew there in small groves. The regular, rectangular network of channels dictated the creation of the rectangular, symmetrically located gardens. All elements of the gardens - ponds, alleys, vineyards, flower beds, open pavilions - were arranged with precise  rhythm and they were stylistically interconnected, which makes it reasonable to assume that the gardens were created according to previously developed plans, where the rhythm is used exclusively as composition a method.

 

The best years of landscape design were reached in the period of the bloom of the ancient capital of Egypt - Luxor(Thebes). The gardens were created in the palaces, the temples and the houses of well-off owners. They composed the green decoration of the city. Gardens, as a rule, had rectangular form, a regular, symmetrical plan and the closed composition, it had alleys and a series of plants located in front of the palace. High trees were placed on the peripheries and low plants in the middle of the garden. Space between the trees was occupied by vegetables and flowers. The composition center of ensemble was always the palace, located on the central axis of composition. Frequently it led to arbours covered with grape vines. The main part of the garden was taken up by a large amount of  ponds with fish, often very large in size (60x120m). Gardens had exotic trees, birds and animals. Egyptian gardens were the gardens of plains, in which because of the natural climatic conditions the main part of the gardens was occupied by large ponds, pools and channels. The magnificent Egyptian Gardens of Queen Cleopatra were famous around the world. Date palms, fig tree, garnet, acacia and fruit trees were planted here. Gardens surrounded by the massive amounts of wood plants.

 

Lily of the valleys, gillyflowers, roses, mignonettes, poppies, bluebottles, chamomiles, lilies, chrysanthemums, narcissuses and other flowers grew in the Egyptian gardens. They obtained fragrant oil from the lilies. The lily flower was also the symbol of hope and shortness of life. Flowers were widely used for the holiday's artistic decorations like wreaths and garlands which were braided with them. Some of the more common plants in Egyptian gardens included irises, chrysanthemums,  daisies,  poppies,  cornflowers,  mandrakes,  roses, myrtle, jasmine, mignonettes,  convolvulus, celosia, narcissus, ivy, lichens, sweet marjoram, henna and bay laurel. In their gardens they cultivated beautiful flowers with strong aromas. The Egyptian people generally valued the aroma of the flowers above their beauty. Common garden shrubs and trees included papyrus, lotus, grapes, olive, acacia, willow, tamarisk, palm, sycamore, avocado,  Christ's thorn, carob tree and myrtle. Numerous plants were specifically brought from other countries. Palaces and gardens were built over several centuries.

 

In ancient Egypt the gardens were designed using the following principles:

• The use of symmetry is one of the main elements of the regular plan

• The closed compositions

• The center of ensemble is always the main house, situated among the large number of the ponds

Rhythm as the composition method

Alleys and series of plants

 

Ancient Egyptian gardens were characterized by the organic confluence of religious, utilitarian and aesthetical functions. Landscape designs in ancient Egypt were associated with large gardens and formal landscaping. Among the oldest are the gardens at the temples Mentuhotep (2156-2005 B.C.) and the park of Queen Hatshepsut (1504 - 1482 B.C.).

 

More is known about the gardens of ancient Egypt than any others civilization of the ancient world for the following reasons:

  • Some Egyptian gardens, made in the desert on the edge of the Nile Valley, have survived
  • Egyptian tomb paintings in the Valley of the Kings provide amazing details of Ancient Egypt's gardens
  • Records of gardens were made because of the belief that a pharaoh's life did not end with his death
  • Egypt's climate was, and is, astonishingly well-suited to making gardens