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Pharaoh’s Harvest: Plants from Ancient and Modern Egypt

Dates: June 1, 2002–August 18, 2002

This groundbreaking exhibit features photographs of ancient plant material and photographs of ancient depictions of plants found in tombs and at ancient monuments in Egypt.

Complementing McClung’s permanent exhibition, Ancient Egypt: The Eternal VoicePharaoh’s Harvest focuses on plants’ importance to the people of ancient and present day Egypt. Plants were a critical component in the emergence of the ancient Egyptian civilization and they continue to this day to play an important role. In addition to food, ancient Egyptians used plants to make medicine, dyes, clothing, cosmetics, and as decorative and mythological elements in their gardens, temples and tombs.

The exhibit presents a unique group of plant species that have survived from ancient times through Egypt’s long history to the present. These include a wide variety of wild and domesticated plants such as ground nut, chick pea and sycamore fig, which were and are foods; and flax, the source of linen textiles so important in both clothing and mummy wrappings. Plants of medical or religious significance, such as the persea tree, associated with several gods are also shown.

Among many others are the louts flower, prominent in ancient Egyptian art as a religious and political symbol, and papyrus, the first plant to be used for paper, a surface on which to place writing, a development of utmost importance in Egyptian civilization.

Accompanying each of the ancient plant species is a photograph of the plant as it exists today, and for some, their current uses. In addition to images of the plants as seen today, the exhibit includes photos of tomb paintings showing the context of the plants in ancient times, examples of plant remains recovered archaeologically from various sites in Egypt, and specimens of the plants or their useful parts.

Exhibition organized by the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Sponsored by the Aletha and Clayton Brodine Museum Fund.

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