Saturday, March 1, 2014
The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, was as prized for its sweet fruit in antiquity as it is today. It was a fruit to be eaten fresh or dried, baked in cakes, and used as a sweetener in beer and wine. The Egyptian word for date, bnr, also means sweet.
The date also figured in Egyptian mythology. One of the epithets of the goddess Hathor was Lady of the Date Palm. The date palm tree was also associated with the sun god because of its tall stem and ray-like leaves reaching to heaven.
Dates were popular with all classes of Egyptians and we found date pits this season in the North Village as well as wooden model dates in the King’s Palace. These model
dates were painted yellow and probably would have decorated a throne kiosk similar to one from Theban Tomb 226 that is now in the Luxor Museum. In the facsimile below, you can see grapes as a motif on the part of the kiosk above the king’s head. On other kiosks, the decoration would have been dates or other plant motifs.
Earlier expeditions to Malqata (those led by Tytus and later by Waseda University) also found these model dates, which appear to have been arranged in horizontal rows. This decorative motif may have evolved into the “egg and dart” molding found in Classical architecture and still popular today.