Based on excavations of a Neolithic settlement in Greece, it's believed that the pomegranate was one of the first cultivated fruits.
Pomegranates were prominently featured in Greek art during the Orientalizing Period, a time when their culture was influenced by Syria and Phoenicia.
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
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)
In Buddhism, the pomegranate is one of the three blessed fruits and represents the essence of favorable influences in art.