Egypt’s Second Khufu Ship - Fully Excavated, Ready for Reassembly
After years of work, researchers have now completed their exhumation of all the artifacts of the Second Khufu Ship found next to the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) in Giza. The next steps are restoration and reassembly so this significant artifact will be ready for visitors to gaze upon it with awe at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Excavating the Second Khufu Ship was a Monumental Task
Egypt Today reports that this monumental task is the work of an Egyptian-Japanese archaeological mission which was led by Sakuji Yoshimura, President of Japan's Higashi Nippon International University and Honorary Professor at Waseda University. On the Egyptian side of the project there is Issa Zidan - the Director General of the Executive Affairs for Restoration at the Grand Egyptian Museum and the supervisor of the restoration process of the Second Khufu Ship.
Zidan says that the archaeological team extracted approximately 1,700 wooden pieces from 13 layers of the pit where the Second Khufu Ship was buried. The researchers have almost completed the work of recording and documenting all those pieces and their initial restoration work. To date, 1,343 pieces have been transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum, where the second phase of the restoration work can begin.
The archaeological team extracted approximately 1,700 wooden pieces from 13 layers of the pit where the Second Khufu Ship was buried. (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)
$3m Towards the Ship’s Restoration and Reassembly
According to Daily News Egypt, the Japan International Cooperation Agency is providing Egypt with a $3m grant for the experts to complete the final restoration work and the reassembly of the Second Khufu Ship.
Once the team has completed their analysis to assemble the ship and the final restoration work is finished, the Second Khufu Ship will be exhibited beside the First Khufu Solar Ship in a new building being constructed just for them at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
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The Japan International Cooperation Agency is providing Egypt with a $3m grant for the experts to complete the final restoration work and the reassembly of the Second Khufu Ship. (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)
Surprising Metal Hooks
Researchers have been analyzing the ship and gaining insights from it for years. For example, the metal hooks discovered during excavations of Khufu’s second solar boat near the Great Pyramid of Giza in 2016 proves that ancient Egyptians had much more advanced technology for boat building than was once believed.
According to Phys.org, a piece of wood revealed during excavations near the Great Pyramid of Giza shed new light on the story of ship building in ancient Egypt. The artifact contains the oldest example of when people near the Nile used metal in their boats. Archaeologists have revealed that the circular and U-shaped metal hooks were discovered in one of the pieces of a boat which was found in 1954 by Kamal el-Mallakh, along with the famous solar ship of Khufu.
Metal pieces of the solar boat in the restoration laboratory. (Phys.org)
The Significance of Solar Ships
Both boats were undisturbed since the day when they were buried in Giza. They are both so-called “solar ships”, which were buried in pits next to royal burials. It is believed that they were used for a pharaoh’s funeral rituals, perhaps as a part of the procession. They have also been related to the Egyptian belief about travel to the afterlife.
Ra traveling through the underworld in his barque, from the copy of the Book of Gates in the tomb of Ramses I (KV16). (Public Domain)
The piece of wood is 8 m (25 ft.) long and 40 cm (almost 16 inches) wide. It is four centimeters (1.57 inches) thick. According to Mohamed Mostafa Abdel-Megeed, an official from the Ministry of Antiquities, it is the first example of a piece of an ancient Egyptian boat which contains metal pieces. Sakuji Yoshimura said that the hooks were used "to place the paddles to prevent friction of wood against wood".
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Khaled El-Enany, Sakuji Yoshimora, and Eissa Zidan inspecting the beam at the laboratory. (Ahram Online)
The solar ship of Khufu is one of the oldest and the largest boats of the ancient times. It is 43.6 meters (143 ft.) long and 5.9 meters (19.5 ft.) wide. It is a masterpiece of the ancient craft of shipbuilding.
Discoveries of ancient Egyptian boats are rare, but there are a few well-known examples of these kinds of ritual ships. Their discovery has helped researchers to understand something about the boats’ construction, which was similar to the creation of ships used on the Nile.
Top Image: The reconstructed solar barge of Khufu. Source: kasbah /Adobe Stock
Updated on July 7, 2021.