500 BC-100 AD

500 BC

Pomegranates figured prominently in Greek myths. In one of the most famous, Hades used the fruit to tempt Persephone, daughter of Zeus, into marriage. 

Image: Votive relief Pinax with Persephone opening a basket, Locri, 470–450 BC. Credit: Scala / Art Resource, NY 

490 BC

Ganesha, the Hindu deity revered as the Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and patron of the arts, is depicted multiple times holding a pomegranate.

Image: Copper allot sculpture of dancing Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles, Karnataka, India, ca. 16th-17th Century. Credit : Digital Image © 2009 Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource, NY

138 BC

Pomegranates first came to China from the Middle East via the legendary Silk Road. They became a popular wedding present, expressing the wish, “May you have as many children as there are seeds!”

Image: Frescoed wall detail of a garden with a branch of pomegranates and birds, from House of Livia, date unknown. Credit: Scala/Luciano Romano/Art Resource, NY

AD 90

Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides featured pomegranates in his famed text, De Materia Medica. It remained Western civilization’s leading text on pharmacology for over 1,000 years. 

Image:  Festoon of fruit, 1st Century AD mosaic. Alfredo Dagli Orti / The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY