one could say little about horticulture in the prehistoric stage of human
history. The records from that period are extremely scanty. However, it
is known that decorative gardening appeared at the dawn of the development
of human civilization. Undoubtedly, this art evolved from agriculture.
The drawings of flowers and trees in the Altamira cave prove that nature
had attracted attention not only as a source of food, but also as one of
period of slavery is characterized primarily by the development of agriculture
and improvement of the pristine means of production. The first gardens
originated from the slave-holding states which were settled near the rivers:
the Nile (Egypt), between Tigris and Euphrates (Assyro-Babylon), near the
river Ind (India) and Huang He (China).
roots of horticulture are to be sought there…
ancient historian Herodotus said: “Egypt is a gift from the Nile”. The
favorable Egyptian climate and Nile’s fertile alluviums have provided the
perfect conditions for agriculture, created settlements and initiated the
development of building. The Sphinx alley which led from the Nile to the
temple of Amon is the first park alley in a geometric style, decorated
on both sides with sphinxes and palms.
plain of the Sahara desert sets in a natural way straight lines and simple
geometric forms as main marks of engineering constructions (irrigation
canals), architecture and garden arrangement. In this respect, Egyptian
art can be labeled as a perfect model for a proper interaction between
building and landscape.
specific data concerning horticulture in ancient Egypt are found in preserved
reliefs and papyruses with images of residence gardens. The most significant
ones among them, in terms of documentary value, are the relief from Thebes
(from the time when Amenophis III, the 4th pharaoh of the 19th dynasty,
reigned and adorned Thebes and Memphis) and the relief found in Tell el-Amarna
(XIV BC), featuring the garden of a great priest.
first Egyptian gardeners grew vegetables and almost no trees, since they
hindered production. It was not until the 18th dynasty (the time of improvement
of building) that garden construction started developing at a faster rate.
New tree species such as apple, olive, peach, cherry, plane trees, poplars
and oaks were imported from distant countries and regions. They brought
diversity to the range of plantations in both private and public gardens.
stone relief from the Tell el-Amarna tomb, showing a garden in front of
a villa from the time of Amenophis III helps us imagine how the gardens
owned by nobles and pharaohs in ancient Egypt looked like. The relief clearly
shows that the Tell el-Amarna garden was situated near a certain irrigation
canal (which might be the Nile) in order to meet the requirements of water,
which was of great importance due to the typical climate in Egypt. Low
walls divided the space in the garden in separate smaller yards, planted
with different species. This way of organization was widely used later
in the courts of Pompeii, in Persia, in Spain. The central yard was under
grapevines, with pools on both sides, and the whole garden was encircled
by trees. One entered the park through a large gate, usually flanked with
two smaller ones sideward. To better explain the arrangement of the garden,
imagine three axes (straight lines). Across the gate and along one of the
straight lines, in the far end of the garden, is the two-storied residence.
The two other axes, parallel to the main one and located on both sides
of the building, reach two pavilions at the lower part of the garden.
garden in Thebes, situated further from the river, is notable for the central
location of a rectangular pool serving both as decoration and for irrigation.
composition of the two Egyptian gardens is strictly geometrical and symmetrical.
One straight central alley walled with palms connects the main gate with
the building. The yards, pools and pavilions are in equal proportions and
occupy symmetrically distributed spots along the alley. The space around
the pools is decorated with short cactuses and other exotic plants behind
which rise rows of palms.
Egyptian were obviously good gardeners and garden builders. They skillfully
naturalized foreign plants, carried big-size plant species and built garden
appurtenances: arbors, decorative walls, pools and others. It is concluded
from the preserved drawings on vases, reliefs and sculptures that flowers
were widely spread in Egypt as a decoration in yards and houses.