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Ancient Egyptian plants: Almond trees
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Almond trees

    Almond trees, Amygdalus communis, were not as frequently grown in Egypt as some other fruit trees. The most ancient evidence of their existence, fruit found in tombs, dates to the New Kingdom. In the following Ramesside description of Tanis almond trees are mentioned, though the translation is somewhat doubtful.
So I arrived at the city of Ramesu-Meriamen, and found it admirable; for nothing on the Theban land and soil can compare with it. Here is the seat of the court. The place is pleasant to live in; its fields are full of good things; and life here passes in constant plenty and abundance. The canals are rich on fish; the lakes swarm with birds; the meadows are green with vegetables; there is no end of the lentils; melons with a taste like honey grow in the irrigated gardens. The barns are full of wheat and durra, and reach as high as heaven. Onions and grapes grow in the enclosures; and the apple-tree blooms among them. The vine, the almond-tree, and the fig-tree are found in the orchards.
G. Rawlinson, History of Ancient Egypt, Vol.2, p.172

    The fruit of almond trees has been found in tombs, e.g. Tutankhamen's [1], their wood, given the small size of the tree, was not very useful as timber and rarely employed [4]. According to Pliny oil was made from almonds.
In later times the Mendesian unguent was invented, a more complicated mixture, as resin and myrrh were added to oil of balanus, and at the present day they even add metopion as well, an Egyptian oil extracted from bitter almonds; to which have been added omphacium, cardamum, sweet rush, honey, wine, myrrh, seed of balsamum, galbanum, and resin of terebinth, as so many ingredients.
Pliny, Natural History, Book XIII
He praised this oil for the durability it bestowed upon the unguents which contained it (ibidem). Theophrastus claimed that it was inferior to balanos oil [3], being too viscous. It was also used in medicinal massages in order to cause perspiration [2]. Gum was apparently also produced from the almond, though Pliny did not have a high opinion of it:
That produced from the bitter almond-tree and the cherry is of an inferior kind, and that which is gathered from the plum-tree is the worst of all.
Pliny, Natural History, Book XIII
A. Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 1962
Lise Manniche, An Ancient Egyptian Herbal, University of Texas Press 1989
Pliny, Natural History, eds. John Bostock, H.T. Riley
George Rawlinson, History of Ancient Egypt. Volume 2, 1881
D. B. Redford, Excavations at Mendes , Brill Academic Publishers 2004

[1] Lucas, p.330
[2] Manniche, p.139
[3] Redford, p.216
[4] Lucas, p.440, gives just one example: the handle of an 18th dynasty walking stick.

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