by Renate Johns
A Japanese University has provided a $10million grant to help see the reconstruction of one of the oldest known boats in the world, and the process has begun this week in Egypt, near the Giza Pyramid.
Egypt Model of Khufu’s graceful solar barque
With the help of the grant from Waseda University archaeologists on Monday began restoration on the 4,500-year-old almost 140ft (43 metre) so-called 'solar barque', which has shown signs of being used during the life of its owner Khufu(King Cheops) but was apparently also meant to carry him into the afterlife.
Its 'sister' boat has already been restored and is housed in a specially built museum at the Giza pyramid complex since 1982. Its discovery was described as one of the greatest Ancient Egyptian discoveries in Zahi Hawass's documentary 'Egypt's Ten Greatest Discoveries'.
The boat was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2500 BC. The ship was almost certainly built for King Cheops, the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
King Cheops is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza, the largest of the pyramids. Son of Snefru, he was the second ruler of the fourth Dynasty around 2680 B.C. and ruled Egypt for 23 years.
Both barques, made from Lebanese cedar and Egyptian acacia trees, were originally discovered in 1954.
The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Amin, said Egyptologists began taking samples of the wood for restoration on Monday.
'The boat was found in a complete shape, intact and in place,' he said, adding that the focus now is on taking samples of the wood.
Previously, experts had initially thought the vessel would be safer left underground than exposed to pollution, but evidence showed that pollution, water and insects had invaded the boat's chamber.
Now they said restoration would likely take about four years and that at its completion, the boat would be placed on display at the Solar Boat Museum near the pyramids, which routinely attract millions of tourists and boost one of Egypt's most important industries.