Ancient Funerary Boat: Abusir Pyramids Site Where Egyptian Boat Was Found

An ancient funerary boat was found two years ago near the Abusir pyramids. Archaeologists uncovered the 4,500-year-old funerary boat in October, 2013. The ancient funerary boat discovery is just now making headlines after Egyptian officials announced its excavation on Monday, according to Yahoo! News.

Abusir is the archaeological site of 14 pyramids in Egypt. Located in northern Egypt, just south of the capital Cairo, this ancient cemetery is the resting place for Egyptian royals from the Old Kingdom. Pyramids in Abusir only date back to the Fifth Dynasty, which was approximately 2,000 years ago. However, archaeologists say the newly discovered ancient funerary boat is more than 4,500-years-old.

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By the Fourth Dynasty, the Giza pyramids had already filled up with elite members of the Egyptian society, leading pharaohs to seek out another burial place. This led to construction of the Abusir pyramids in 2494 BC, where three Fifth Dynasty kings built their pyramids. The first largest find of the Abusir burial site was the Abusir Papyri, a collection of ancient Egyptian documents written on papyrus paper, in 1893.

More recently, members of a Czech archaeological team uncovered an ancient funerary boat at the end of October, 2013, while they were excavating a 4,000-year-old ancient Egyptian tomb, also known as a mastaba. Reportedly, the nearly 60-foot-long boot was buried in sand near the tomb’s south wall. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said the ancient funerary boat had been placed on a bed of stones and buried in the Abusir South cemetery.

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According to the Ministry, the placement of the ancient funerary boat indicated the owner of the tomb ranked pretty high up on the ancient Egyptian social ladder.

“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,” said one Czech archaeologist.

The Egyptian Ministry believes the ancient funerary boat was actually built sometime in the Third Dynasty or Fourth Dynasty, and then buried during the Fifth Dynasty in the Abusir pyramids. Pottery found buried with the ancient boat, as well as the size of the boat indicates an age much older than the Fifth Dynasty period. Interrete reports that because the ancient funerary boat is still so intact, it should help to shed some light on how ancient ships were built.

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Responsible for preserving and protecting all of Egypt’s ancient antiquities, cultural heritage, and archaeological finds, the Ministry said the ancient funerary boat found in the Abusir pyramids is well-preserved, with even small pieces of wood still intact.

“The wooden planks were joined by wooden pegs that are still visible in their original position. Extraordinarily, the desert sand has preserved the plant fibre battens which covered the planking seams.”

Director of the Czech archaeological mission, Miroslav Barta, said the ancient funerary boat is a remarkable discovery.

“The careful excavation and recording of the Abusir boat will make a considerable contribution to our understanding of ancient Egyptian watercraft and their place in funerary cult.”

Another one of the oldest and largest ancient boats, which was discovered in 1954 and is currently being preserved in the Giza Solar boat museum, is the Khufu ship that was sealed into a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza in the Giza pyramid complex. Built for the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, Khnum-Khufu, the Khufu ship is a fully intact 143-foot-long ancient funerary boat made up of cedar planking.

But unlike the recently discovered Abusir pyramids’ ancient funerary boat, the Khufu ship wasn’t found all in one piece. The Egyptian Department of Antiquities’ chief restorer, Ahmed Youssef Moustafa, painstakingly reconstructed the Khufu ship from over 1,000 pieces that had been laid out in a logical, but disassembled, order before it was buried.

[Image via YouTube]