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The most famous and elaborate of these boats-featuring carved prow and stern and a deck cabin-was found in a boat grave at the Great Pyramid of Giza, attributed to the Pharaoh Khufu (ca. The preliminary conservation study on the first boat hull is helping to shape future seasons.
The archaeologists plan to return to boat excavation work this winter in order to minimize the damage from the sunlight and heat, which cause quick deterioration of the fragile wood.
Moreover, residue of yellow pigment indicates that these boats were probably painted.
The Associate Director for the Abydos Boats project is Matthew Adams, Research Associate, Egyptian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Wood was a precious commodity in Egypt, and when we determine the type of wood we'll be able to pinpoint just where it came from-which opens a whole new avenue of understanding about trade, political relationships, and power." Boats figured largely in ancient Egyptian life, where few people lived far from the life-giving Nile River.
The conservation component of the Abydos Boats project is financed by the Egyptian Antiquities Project of the American Research Center in Egypt, under its grant from the United States Agency for International Development. David O'Connor, the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Curator Emeritus and Research Associate, Egyptian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum, has been working at Abydos since 1967 and is Project Director for the Abydos Boats project and co-director, with Dr.
William Kelly Simpson of Yale University, of the long-running multi-faceted Abydos Expedition.
Because the boats’ most important journey was intended to be a cosmic one, they may have seen little or no use in water like other ships.
They were Pharaoh Khufu’s “solar” boats, and sailing by his side would be the god Re, the Egyptian sun god, embodying a testament to his piousness as a ruler and the blessings of the gods in his journey through the afterlife.Archaeologists hope that material evidence found in and around the boats may eventually help with dating and better understanding the royal fleet-and Egypt in the first dynasty.More than 30 pointed-bottom pottery jars, about a foot tall and of a shape that typically was used to transport beer, were found near one of the boat graves.About 75 feet in length and seven to ten feet in width at the widest point, these boats are only about two feet deep, with narrowing prows and sterns.The portion of the boat hull excavated revealed thick wooden planks, lashed together by rope fed through mortises.