But what if it's the other way round, and the ankh is in fact the graphic representation of a palm cross?
I checked to see if anyone had had this thought before- but apparently not. There are all sorts of theories about the symbolism of the ankh. You can check them out here. I don't find any of them particularly convincing.
But why should the Egyptians have been making palm crosses? Well why not? They certainly had plenty of palm fronds to make them with.
You are idling beside the river Nile. You pick up a palm frond and start twisting it. You tie it into a shape suggestive of the human form. The loop is the head, the cross-piece the arms, the tapering tail a robe. You give it to your daughter as a dolly.
Or- better still- you set up a stall and sell your palm frond dollies at the temple gate as representations of the Goddess.
And eventually- centuries later- when hieroglyphics are being invented- the palm frond dolly- an easy-to-draw image of the divine- becomes the symbol meaning "eternal life" .