The Economic Botany Collections at Kew house about 600 specimens of ancient Egyptian plant remains, including wreaths, flowers, leaves, bread, textiles, wood and artefacts. These items came direct from excavators or botanists, and from the Natural History Museum, and Petrie Musuem at University College London.
The Collections house items from many important sources. Specimens excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie and Guy Brunton include about 80 specimens from the Roman Cemetary at Hawara, and 25 late Middle Kingdom specimens, mostly wreaths, from Lahun. The Collections also house around 30 New Kingdom specimens from Thebes, and Geoffrey Martin’s excavations in the 1970’s contributed 68 Ptolemaic specimens from North Saqqara. Additional material comes from Tell el Amarna, Faras, Roda, and Carter’s excavations in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
The Ancient Egyptian plant specimens are important both because they are well provenanced and dated, and because they illustrate the full range of plants used in Ancient Egypt. Full cataloguing and digitisation of these collections is a high priority.