A broad space enclosed by high crenellated walls, filled with sycamores, acacias, date palms, doom palms and little shrubs planted in regular patterns, surrounding two vast pavilions connected by a long pergola; pools rimmed by thick clumps of papyrus, with ducks swimming amid the water lilies and, beyond the encircling walls, the city with its tree-lined avenue running beside a canal: this was how the Grand Vizier Remike had his garden depicted on the walls of his tomb in Thebes around 1500 B.C., handing down to us what may be the most ancient, and is certainly the most complete, representation of a garden in the ancient world.
“When the river is in flood and flows over the plains, many lilies, which the Egyptians call lotus, grow in the water. … The root of this lotus is edible also, and of a sweetish taste; it is round, and the size of an apple. Other lilies there are growing in the river, like to roses … which are eaten both fresh and dried. They also use the byblus … the top of it cut off and turned to other ends, and the lower part, about twenty inches long, eaten or sold.”
(Herodotus, The Histories, 2, 92, 2-5)