ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian plants: Palm trees
The date palm
The dellach palm
The Doum palm

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Palm trees

Palms, Karnak. Source:V. Easy
There are planted in the island many palm-trees and other trees, both bearing fruit and not bearing fruit.
Herodotus Histories II

The date palm

The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, is a dioecious [1] unbranched evergreen tree. They were often grown in oases [2]
    Having low quality wood its use as timber was limited to serving as pillars in private houses. In temples palmiform pillars alternated with lotiform and papyriform columns.
    The date palm was mostly grown for its fruit, which could be eaten fresh or dry, was used as a sweetener, or could be fermented and turned into an alcoholic beverage.
    Hathor, among many other epithets, also bore the title of Lady of the Datepalm. She, at other times Nut, reaches out of a palm to give food and drink to the deceased. The palm was also associated with Re, because of its tall stem and ray-like leaves it was considered a place of appearance of the sun god.

The dellach palm

    The fruit of the Dellach palm, Hyphaene argun Mart., was much esteemed for its taste[3] and commonly grown in ancient Egypt.[4] The tree is no longer found in the country.[5]

The doum palm

    The doum or dom palm, Hyphaene thebaica, was grown for its fruit, the kuku-nut, and its wood. The timber of the doum, which is stronger than that of the date palm, can be carved and looks similar to ivory.
... the wood of the cucus is held in very high esteem. It is similar in nature to the palm, as its leaves are similarly used for the purposes of texture: it differs from it, however, in spreading out its arms in large branches. The fruit, which is of a size large enough to fill the hand, is of a tawny colour, and recommends itself by its juice, which is a mixture of sweet and rough. The seed in the inside is large and of remarkable hardness, and turners use it for making curtain rings. The kernel is sweet, while fresh; but when dried it becomes hard to a most remarkable degree, so much so, that it can only be eaten after being soaked in water for several days. The wood is beautifully mottled with circling veins, for which reason it is particularly esteemed among the Persians.
Pliny, Natural History, Book XIII, chapter 18 - (eds. John Bostock, H.T. Riley)

    The doum palm was associated with Thoth and the fertility god Min.
Picture source:
[1] dioecious: There are male and female palm trees, the male providing the pollen with which the flowers of the female tree are to be fertilised. This often results in the male trees being planted on the windward side of the female trees to augment chances of fertilisation.
[2] According to Donald Ryan of the Pacific Lutheran University date palms were much less common in Egypt in ancient times than they are today. (Communication to the EEF, December 2004)
[3] W. M. Flinders Petrie, Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, London 1890, p.49
[4] Edward DeLos Myers, A study of history, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, 1961, p.307
[5] Archaeological Institute of America, American journal of archaeology and of the history of the fine arts, Volume 6, Ginn, 1890, p.496

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