6000-500 BC

6000 BC

Based on excavations of a Neolithic settlement in Greece, it's believed that the pomegranate was one of the first cultivated fruits.

Image: Head of goddess Kubaba basalt relief from Karkamis Syria, ca.1050–850 BC. Gianni Dagli Orti / The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY

800 BC

Pomegranates were prominently featured in Greek art during the Orientalizing Period, a time when their culture was influenced by Syria and Phoenicia.

Image: Marble statue of Artemis as goddess of fertility with many breasts and pomegranates, ca. 2nd Century AD. Photo Credit: Alfredo Dagli Orti / The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY

During the Neo-Assyrian period, Mesopotamians often referred to the pomegranate tree as the sacred tree. Carved into this ivory relief, a royal subject is depicted approaching the sacred pomegranate tree.

Image: Plaque with Assyrian courtiers in two registers. Assyrian, Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu). Credit: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Source: Art Resource, NY

700 BC

Pomegranates came to Rome via Carthage and were depicted in mosaics, most notably at the House of the Fruit Orchard in Pompeii. Women wore headdresses made of pomegranate twigs to signify their marital status.

Image: Roman mosaic depicting dice players framed with garlands of laurel and pomegranates in the corners, ca. 3rd Century AD. Credit : © Gilles Mermet / Art Resource, NY

Because of the pomegranate’s numerous seeds, it represented fertility to ancient Syrian cultures. This delicately carved ivory pomegranate was most likely sewn onto a garment and may have also been used as a love charm.

Image: Pomegranate. Assyrian, Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu). Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1954 (54.117.7)

563 BC

In Buddhism, the pomegranate is one of the three blessed fruits and represents the essence of favorable influences in art. 

Image: Porcelain plate featuring the Three Blessed Fruits of Buddhism, ca. 1880. Photo Credit : Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Patrice Schmidt/Art Resource, NY