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"Flowers all the winter and spring, till the sum-
"The Egyptians grow the Acinos for making
Plin. Some editions of Pliny
"Grows about the Nile in marshes, and is eaten.
"Eaten by other people, as by the Egyptians." "Grows on walls and tiles of houses." Plin.
"Sieves made of it in Egypt." Plin.
"Gods crowned with it; a custom particularly observed by Ptolemy, King of Egypt." Plin. "Grown in gardens in Egypt, for making chaplets." Plin.
"Coming from the garden lotos, from whose seed, like millet, the Egyptian bakers make bread.' Plin. ("Rhus leaves like myrtle, used for dressing skins." Though Pliny does not mention it as an Egyptian plant, it is indigenous in the desert, and the leaves and wood are used by the Arabs for tanning.)
Vinca major et minor?
'Mostly produced in Egypt." Plin.
"About Elephantina." Plin.
"Only in Egypt during the inundation of the
"Homer attributes the glory of herbs to Egypt.
"The Egyptians believe that if, on the 27th day of
or Daphnoides, or
The trees of ancient Egypt represented on the monuments are the date, dôm, sycamore, pomegranate, persea, tamarisk, and Periploca Secamone: and the fruit, seeds, or leaves of the nebk, vine, fig, olive, Mokhayt (Cordia Myxa), Kharoob or locust-tree, palma Christi or cici, Sont or acanthus, bay, and Egleeg or balanites, have been found in the tombs of Thebes; as well as of the Areca, Tamarind, Myrobalanus, and others, which are the produce either of India, or the interior of Africa. And though these last are not the actual productions of Egypt, they are interesting, as they show the constant intercourse maintained with those distant countries. One instance has been met with of the pine apple, in glazed pottery. The sculptures also represent various flowers, some of which may be recognised; while others are less clearly defined, and might puzzle the most expert botanist.
Figs. 1 to 6, inclusive, from the tomb of Remeses III.
Little attention is paid by the inhabitants of modern Egypt to the cultivation of plants, beyond those used for the purpose of food, or to the growth of trees, excepting the palm, large groves of which are met with in every part of the country; and if the statement of Strabo be true, that, "in all (Lower) Egypt the palm was sterile, or bore an uneatable fruit, though of excellent
quality in the Thebaïd," this tree is now cultivated with more success in Lower Egypt than in former times, some of the best quality of dates being produced there, particularly at Korayn, to the E. of the Delta, where the kind called A'maree is superior to any produced to the N. of Nubia.
Few timber trees are reared in these days either in Upper or Lower Egypt. Some sycamores, whose wood is required for water wheels and other purposes; a few groups of Athuls, or Oriental tamarisks, used for tools and other implements requiring a compact wood; and two or three groves of Sont, or Mimosa Nilotica, valuable for its hard wood, and for its pods used in tanning, are nearly all that the modern inhabitants retain of the many trees grown by their predecessors. But their thriving condition, as that of the mulberry-trees (planted for the silkworms), which form, with the Mimosa Lebbek, some shady avenues in the vicinity of Cairo, and of the Cassia fistula (bearing its dense mass of blossoms in the gardens of the metropolis), shows that it is not the soil, but the industry of the people, which is wanting to encourage the growth of trees.
The Egleeg, or balanites, (the supposed Persea,) no longer thrives in the valley of the Nile; many other trees are rare, or altogether unknown; and the extensive groves of Acanthus, or Sont, are rather tolerated than encouraged, as the descendants of the trees planted in olden times near the edge of the cultivated land.
The thickets of Acanthus, alluded to by Strabo, still grow above Memphis, at the base of the low Libyan hills: in going from the Nile to Abydus, you ride through the grove of Acacia, once sacred to Apollo, and see the rising Nile traversing it by a canal, as when the geographer visited that city, even then reduced to the condition of a small village: and groves of the same tree may here and there be traced in other parts of the Thebaïd, from which it obtained the name of the Thebaïc thorn.
Above the cataracts, the Sont grew in profusion a few years ago upon the banks of the Nile, enabling the poor Nubians to
send abundance of charcoal for sale to Cairo; and its place is supplied in the desert by the Séáleh and other of the Mimosa tribe, which are indigenous to the soil.
The principal woods used by the Egyptians were the date, Dôm, sycamore, several acacias, the two tamarisks, the Egleeg or balanites, ebony, fir, and cedar. The various purposes, to which every part of the palm or date-tree was applied, have been already noticed, as well as of the Dôm, or Theban palm. Sycamore wood was employed for coffins, boxes, small idols, doors, window shutters, stools, chairs, and cramps for building; for handles of tools, wooden pegs or nails, cramps, idols, small boxes, and those parts of cabinet work requiring hard compact wood, the Sont (Acacia Nilotica) was usually preferred; and spears were frequently made of other acacias, which grew in the interior, or on the confines of the desert.
For cramps in walls, and tools of various kinds, the wood of the Tamarix orientalis was much used, and even occasionally for pieces of furniture, for which purpose the Egleeg was also employed; but the principal woods adopted by the cabinet-maker for fine work were ebony, fir, and cedar. Of these three the first came from Africa, and formed, with ivory, gold, ostrich feathers, dried fruits, and skins, the principal object of the annual tribute brought to Egypt by the conquered tribes of Ethiopia and the Soodán; but fir and cedar were imported from Syria; the two last being in great demand for common furniture, small boxes, coffins, and various objects connected with the dead.
Other woods of a rare and valuable kind were brought to Egypt by the people of Asia tributary to the Pharaohs; and the importance attached to them may be estimated by their being frequently imitated, for the satisfaction of those who could not afford to purchase furniture or trinkets of so expensive a material.
Egypt also produced some fungi useful for dyeing; the pods of the Acacia Nilotica, the bark of the séáleh acacia, and the wood and bark of the Errin, or Rhus oxyacanthoïdes, for tanning; and the Periploca Secamone for curing skins.
White crops were of course the principal cultivated produc