Surprising Discovery of Metal Hooks in The Solar Boat of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu
Metal hooks discovered during excavations of Khufu’s second solar boat, near the Great Pyramid of Giza, 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 the excavations near the Great Pyramid of Giza sheds 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.
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, an Egyptologist from Japan, 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. Some of them were discovered recently. As Alicia McDermott from Ancient Origins reported in February 1, 2016:
“Czech archaeologists have unearthed an 18 meter (59.1 ft.) long boat near a tomb of an unknown member of the Old Kingdom’s elite class in Abusir (Abu-Sir), Egypt. […] The archaeologists […] have said that the boat is unique and in good condition - many of the boards and pegs have even been found in their original positions. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities told the press that the remains of the ship were found on top of stones, and its orientation, length, and the pottery collected from its interior have led the team to date the boat to the very end of the Third or beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, approximately 2550 BC.”
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The reconstructed solar barge of Khufu. ( Berthold Werner/CC BY SA 3.0 )
“According to Dr. Felix Arnold, the field director of the mission, the building served as a way station for the festival barque of the god Khnum. […] The building was later dismantled and about 30 of its blocks have now been found in the foundations of the Khnum temple of Nectanebo II. Some of the blocks were discovered in previous excavation seasons by members of the Swiss Institute, but the meaning of the blocks has only now become clear.”
Top Image: Metal pieces of the solar boat in the restoration laboratory. Source: Phys.org