Despite the difficult times, the world is witnessing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt is continuing its achievements, as it transferred the royal mummies in a majestic parade and opened the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Also, it is preparing to open the great avenue of sphinxes and the Grand Egyptian Museum and transferring the whole collection of King Tut from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the GEM. Among these great projects is the transfer of the Khufu ship or the solar boat to the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The history of this Boat On 26 May 1954, Kamal El Malakh discovered this boat in a hole covered with almost 40 limestone blocks in the south of the pyramid of Khufu. He found it preserved and disassembled for 1224 individual pieces. Besides this boat, he found oars and ropes. Now, this boat is displayed in Solar Boat Museum built where this boat was discovered.
How does this boat look like? The boat was made from cedar which was imported from Lebanon. It is about 44 meters long and 6 meters wide. The bow of this boat takes the shape of a bundle of papyrus. This bow is about 6 meters high, while its stern is 7 meters high.
This boat contains a main cabin divided into two parts. This cabin is surrounded by 36 columns. The boat has 10 oars, 5 on each side. These oars take the shape of a spear, referring to the tool used by the god Horus to kill the god Set.
In the manufacture of that boat, the ancient Egyptians did not use metal nails but relied on interlocking and tying with ropes.
Why this boat was called the solar boat? In the past, some researchers thought that this boat was the boat used by the king in the other world for sailing during his day and night trip with the god Ra (Sun God), so they called it a solar boat.
But Ahmed Youssef, the restorer of this boat, proved that this boat has been used before, which showed that it was the boat responsible for transferring the king’s corpse from the east bank to the west.
As well, we know the shape of solar boats from several depictions in tombs, and this boat does not have the same shape despite the completion of its parts.
The transferring to the Grand Egyptian Museum The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that the King Khufu Ship will be transferred from its current location in Solar Boat Museum in Giza Plateau, built where the ship was discovered, to a new location in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) for its permanent display in June 2021.
Solar Boat Museum was not equipped to house the biggest, oldest, and most valuable organic monument, which began to decay, so the transportation of the boat to a new venue was imperative. In addition, this museum will be demolished as a part of the development of Giza Plateau, as this building cause visually distorts Giza Plateau, lacks the new methods of display, and is not qualified to be accessed to the special needs.
Atef Moftah, the general supervisor of the GEM and the surrounding area, examined with the First Khufu Transport Committee how to safely move the ship from Giza Plateau to the Grand Egyptian Museum.
After several studies, the committee decided to transfer the boat as one piece, like the transfer of King Ramses II colossus, as the boat was packed with special scientific foams and put inside an iron cage to protect it during the transfer. This transferring can be considered one of the most challenging engineering and archaeological projects, as they must preserve the most valuable organic monument in the world.
The halls of the Grand Egyptian Museum will house the first and second ships of King Khufu in a special hall called Khufu boats museum hall. The restoration team is working on conserving the second ship, as the team succeeded in extracting approximately 1272 pieces of wood from the second ship.
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