Why King Khufu’s Solar Boat Is Moving After 4,600 Years | Smart News

Experts transported the boat in a shock-absorbing metal container carried by a remote-controlled vehicle imported from Belgium.
Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Last weekend a 4,600-year-old ship once belonged to the pharaoh Cheops traveled from his longtime home near the Giza pyramids to Great Egyptian Museuma state-of-the-art venue set to open outside of Cairo in late 2021.

As France Media Agency (AFP) reports the 20-ton, 138-foot-long vessel a solar boator solar boat – was found buried next to The Great Pyramid of Cheops in 1954. Experts are unsure of the ship’s exact purpose, writes Kamal Tabikha for the nationalbut suggest it may have been part of the pharaoh’s fleet in life, or may have been designed to carry the resurrected king across the skies after his death.

Egyptian authorities transported the cedar-wood boat in a shock-absorbing metal container carried by a remote-controlled vehicle imported from Belgium. Although the Giza pyramids are only eight kilometers from the new museum, the procession had to move slowly to protect the fragile vessel from damage. In total, the trip took ten hours, starting late Friday evening and ending Saturday morning.

“The objective of the transport project [was] protect and preserve the largest and oldest organic wooden artifact in human history for…future generations,” says the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in one declarationfrom a translation of Reuters.

According to the statement, the imported vehicle, initially unveiled in June, is equipped with technology that absorbs vibrations and adapts to changes in terrain. Archaeologists and engineers collaborated on the project to ensure the ship emerged from the voyage fully intact.

Khufu ruled Egypt at some point during the Fourth Dynasty (about 2613 to 2494 BCE). Scholars don’t know much about the pharaoh, but he likely ascended the throne in his twenties and began work on his Great Pyramid soon after taking power, according to the BBC.

Writing some 2,000 years after the reign of Cheops, the Greek historian Herodotus describes him as cruel, mean boss who relied on slaves to build his pyramid. Other accounts portray the king as a traditional, good-natured monarch who employed only conscript laborers.

Kamal al Mallakh, one of Egypt’s most renowned archaeologists, discovered Khufu’s ship in 1954 in a closed pit near the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest pyramid on the Giza Plateau. The ship had collapsed by the time el-Mallakh found it, but the timber remained well preserved as it had been hermetically sealed in a 171-foot chamber, notes the National.

The 138-foot-long vessel will be on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum when it opens later this year.
Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

By PBS'”Build the pharaoh’s ship” portal, the archaeologist spent twenty months excavating the 1,224 fragments of the boat. Restorers only put the ship back together after about a decade of research into ancient Egyptian shipbuilding techniques, Tim Wyatt wrote for the Independent in 2019.

Officials plan to hold an unveiling ceremony for the boat at a later date. The ship will eventually be put on display at the much-anticipated and long-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum, which will feature more than 100,000 artifacts depicting the nation’s ancient history. Exhibits will include a group of about 30 sealed coffins unearthed in Luxor in 2019 and more than 5,000 objects from the excavations of King Tut’s tomb.

The Grand Egyptian Museum is not the only cultural institution making its debut in Egypt this year. In April, the government moved 18 ancient kings and 4 queens from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new museum National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) for a live motorcade nicknamed the Golden Parade of the Pharaohs. Unlike the Grand Egyptian Museum, which focuses on 3,000 years of ancient history, the NEMC explore the whole of Egyptian history.

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