Monday, July 28, 2008

Pharaonic Boat to Be Excavated, Reassembled

Discovery Channel (Rossella Lorenzi)

This story has already been extensively covered both here and elsewhere, but one of the nice things about this article is that it provides a very good round up of all the details scattered throughout the recent stories:

Ancient wood hidden for millennia in an underground chamber beside the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza will soon be excavated and reassembled into a unique pharaonic boat, according to Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The glorious heap of beams and planks can now be seen for the first time by the public just as it was left by the ancient Egyptians 4,500 years ago -- fully disassembled and carefully stacked. Tourists can view images of the inside of the boat pit from a camera inserted through a hole in the chamber's ceiling.

View a slideshow about the boat here.

"We are currently reviewing a Japanese proposal to fully excavate the wood fragments and rebuild the boat. The project will take five years and will cost $10 million," Hawass told Discovery News in a phone interview.

Archaeologists have long known the existence of a boat buried 10 meters (33 feet) below the last resting place of the 4th dynasty Pharoah Khufu (2589-2566 B.C.), or "Cheops" as the Greeks called him.

Two pits carved into the bedrock came to light in 1954, when a mountain of debris was cleared from the south face of the Great Pyramid.

Almost perfectly preserved, the cedar timbers excavated from the first pit were painstakingly reassembled into an extraordinary boat. About 142 feet long and made of 1,224 components, Khufu's first ship now stands resurrected in a specially built museum near the Great Pyramid.

While evidence of a second pit very near to the first one was noted first in 1954, it took some 31 years before Egyptian authorities investigated the underground chamber by inserting a camera through thick slabs of stone in 1985.

Now a Japanese team from Waseda University, led by Egyptologist Sakuji Yoshimura, has submitted a proposal to excavate, restore, rebuild and transport the boat along with its mate to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Without a prompt intervention, the vessel would be at risk of serious damage, the Japanese team said.

1 comment:

Rossella Lorenzi said...

Thanks for mentioning my article.
For those interested, I've just produced a podcast in which Dr. Zahi Hawass and Dr. Cheryl Ward talk about the two boats buried beside the Great Pyramid. Here's the link:
http://blogs.discovery.com/news_archaeorama/2008/07/archeorama-podc.html
Thanks again,
Rossella Lorenzi