An ancient funerary boat dating back about 4,500 years ago has been discovered in the necropolis of Abusir pyramids, south of the Pyramids of Giza, Egyptian officials announced. Officials also stressed that the discovery may reveal important data on the use and construction of these items.
“This is a highly unusual discovery since boats of such a size and construction were during this period reserved solely for top members of the society, who usually belonged to the royal family,” the director of the Czech mission was quoted as saying in a statement released by the AFP.
The ancient funerary boat was described as being 18 meters long, and is in very good condition because the desert sand protected the wooden boards and plant fibers used to join them.
“The wooden planks were joined by wooden pegs that are still visible in their original position. Extraordinarily, the desert sand has preserved the plant fiber battens which covered the planking seams,” Miroslav Barta, of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, explained.
Most funeral boats that have been found so far were in bad condition and had numerous broken parts, but this new finding will allow archaeologists to better study the materials which could provide more insight on shipbuilding in ancient Egypt.
Barta, the head of the archaeological team that found the funerary boat, said that this discovery opens the possibility to other “potential” findings in the coming months, and there may even be more boats buried in the same area. Its importance is also that it most likely did not belong to the family of Pharaohs or royal blood, which may shed light on how these objects were used in burial rituals of other officials of the kingdom.
“This discovery reveals an unknown part of the 5th Dynasty history which opens the door for more future studies on the family tree of this previously unknown Queen,” Barta explained.
As reported by the Christian Post, archaeologists have not yet determined who the boat and the tomb it was parked near belong to, although Barta says a bowl with the name “King Huni from the Third Dynasty” was also found inside the tomb.
“The unearthed tomb is a part of a small cemetery to the south east of the pyramid complex of King Neferefre (Raneferef) which led the team to think that Queen Khentkaus could be the wife of Neferefre hence she was buried close to his funerary complex,” Barta said.
It is believed that the pharaohs were buried with such wooden boats that helped them on their journey to the afterlife, like many other objects that were placed next to the mummies. Archaeological excavations at this site began in 2009 and the team will conduct further research on the boat and the mastaba.
This isn’t the first significant discovery Barta and his team have made this year. In early January, the crew discovered the Old Kingdom tomb of a previously unknown queen named Khentkaus III in a small cemetery to the southeast of King Neferefre’s pyramid complex. According to a report from Archaeology.org, she had been buried with four copper tools and 23 limestone vessels. Inscriptions in the tomb list the queen’s titles as “Wife of the King” and “Mother of the King.”
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