Empires and nations have been venturing out into the unknown in pursuit of new agricultural species and animals since the dawn of civilization. According to the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), the hunt for novel plant species was superseded by the cultivation of food and the breeding of animals once agriculture became widespread.
Fruit farming, according to historical records and scholarly investigations, was another activity that consumed these communities’ time and resources. Grapes, dates, pomegranates, and olives all did exceptionally well during this time. Wheat, dates, and barley were among the crops that Egyptian pharaohs and queens helped bring into production, propelling Egypt into an agricultural golden age.
Historians speculate that the numerous paintings and rock arts in Egypt honored the gifts of agriculture for the country’s continued existence. It is believed that the Pharaoh’s headdress symbolized the planting of crops in both the desert and the Nile Valley.
It should come as no surprise, say historians, that Egypt’s agriculture flourished for millennia. As a result of expanding its empire to include Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia, and sections of sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt became a major economic force.
Under Pharaoh Sankhere around 2500 BCE, Egypt began its earliest documented efforts to discover and cultivate previously unknown plant species. Under his command, ships scoured the oceans in search of exotic new agricultural resources. Sinuhe, an ancient Egyptian writer, wrote that the vegetation and produce of modern-day Israel were of high quality.
The journey of Queen Hatshepsut to the country of Punt on the northeastern coast of Africa was one of the first dangerous journeys recorded by a prominent Egyptian official. Frankincense and myrrh, two gifts mentioned in the Bible, were among those the Queen brought.
A recording of a meeting set up at the temple at Deir el-Bahri proves that the Queen traveled to this location. Legend has it that in 1500 B.C.E., Queen Hatshepsut brought back two ships full of exotic plant species from her travels.
Carvings at the Temple of Karnak show that the Queen’s nephew, Thothmes III, also went on such journeys, bringing new crops and seed varieties from Syria.
King Ramses III made similar journeys between 1198 and 1166, bringing exotic sweet fruit trees and flower species for use in the construction of the king’s vineyard.
Egypt used cutting-edge agricultural techniques to help the exotic plants they had brought with them from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Israel thrive.
According to scholars, Egyptian fleets travelled to China and other parts of Asia and Africa in search of exotic flora and fauna.
Silk threads found in tombs of pharaohs from the 1st millennium BCE attest to the widespread international trade in exotic goods by the ancient Egyptians.
This article was originally published on Face2FaceAfrica.com