Archaeologists have started a project to excavate a 4,500-year-old wooden boat located next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, according to Egypt’s top antiquities officials.
The boat is buried alongside another boat next to the site where Pharaoh Khufu is buried. It is said to relate to an Egyptian religious custom to help carry the pharaoh into the afterlife.
Khufu was the founder of the 4th Dynasty in Egypt around 2680 B.C. He ruled Egypt for 23 years and is the ruler credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Tourism levels have sharply declined following the country’s highly publicized revolution that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, hopes the magnificent ancient ship will boost tourism in Egypt once displayed.
The boat was originally found in 1954 along with another ship. The other ship was restored and regarded as one of the most prestigious discoveries on the Giza plateau. Experts speculate the boats are the oldest surviving vessels from antiquity. Both boats uncovered at the site are made from Lebanese cedar and Egyptian acacia trees.
The second ship, whose excavation recently began, is slightly smaller than the other boat. The excavation team, alongside a team of scientists, are using a pulley system to lift the limestone slabs. So far the team has lifted approximately 41 slabs each, weighing 16 tons. Scientists speculate they will continue to remove nearly 600 pieces over the next two months.
Restoration of the ship is expected to take about four years to complete. Once completed, the boat will be displayed at the Solar Boat Museum. Experts believe the restoration will be as successful as the first ship was, as the new boat is in great shape.
The second boat was originally found by a team from National Geographic Society in 1987. The team lowered a tiny camera through the limestone enclosure to find a majestic ship lying underneath.