How female king Hatshepsut, others transformed Egyptian agriculture by sailing dangerous seas for plant exploration 

Stephen Nartey October 03, 2022
Statue of Hatshepsut. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Since early civilization, empires and nations have undertaken perilous journeys in search of new crop plants and animals. With the advent of agriculture, the cultivation of food and rearing of animals replaced the search for new plant species, according to ASHS journal. 

Documents and studies indicate that another venture that engaged the energies of these societies was fruit cultivation. It is during this period that fruits such as grapes, dates, pomegranates and olives flourished. Egyptian kings and queens heavily participated in this agricultural revolution with the planting of wheat, dates and barleys. 

The Egyptians infused it into their art and agric science, with historians suggesting that the many paintings and rock arts in Egypt paid homage to the offerings of agriculture for their survival. It is said that the hats worn by Pharaohs represent the tilling of the lower and upper parts of Egypt with plants. 

Historians argued that it is not surprising Egypt recorded agricultural success for centuries. Egypt was an economic powerhouse because of how expansive its empire stretched following its conquest of Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Early evidence of the frantic search for new plant species by Egypt was in 2500 BCE under the reign of Pharoah Sankhere. Under his leadership, fleets of ships explored the seas for new crops and animals to boost the agric sector. It was documented by Egyptian scribe Sinuhe who once described the plants and fruits of present-day Israel as good and worthy.

One of the perilous journeys first documented by a high-profile Egyptian official was that of Queen Hatshepsut to the land of Punt, north-eastern coast of Africa. The Queen brought with her the biblical gifts of frankincense and myrrh. 

Evidence of this exploration by the Queen is captured in a meeting placed in the temple at Deir el-Bahri. Queen Hatshepsut is reported to have returned from her trip with two ships of plant species in 1500 BCE. 

The Queen’s nephew Thothmes III also undertook such expeditions as carvings in the Temple of Karnak reveal he brought new crops and seeds from Syria. 

Between 1198 and 1166, King Ramses III made similar expeditions and returned with sweet fruit trees and floral species from other nations to construct the king’s vineyard. 

Egypt employed modern agric art to ensure the growth of the new plants they brought from their expedition from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Israel. 

Researchers say Egyptian fleets of ships sailed to China, parts of Asia and Africa in the quest to collect new plants and animals. 

Archaeological findings of strands of silk buried with mummies of Pharaohs in 1000 BCE show trade in species and fabrics between Egyptians and other cultures. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 3, 2022


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