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The first stone covering the second solar boat near the Great Pyramid, and Zahi Hawass has explained the whole history of this find to us on his website, from its very beginnings and we share it here.
Ships were the most important form of transportation in Ancient Egypt and vital for travel and commerce. It is therefore not surprising that the ship had a symbolic meaning for the people, becoming an integral part of the religious beliefs and visions of the afterlife, and it is likely that the solar ships surrounding the Great Pyramid were intended to be used by the late King on his journey after death.
The first discovery.
The first solar boat near the Great pyramid It was discovered in 1954 by the Egyptian archaeologist Kamal el-Mallakh. Following excavation, the ship was expertly restored and is now on display at the Solar Boat Museum. But it was also during that first survey that researchers found a similar structure next to the first ship. This second boat was left intact for more than 30 years, before the Secretary of State for Antiquities and a delegation from Waseda University in Japan carried out a study of electromagnetic waves in 1987. All of this initial research has improved the understanding of the area surrounding the hole and it has been possible to start planning the best way to protect the remains inside.
First phase of restoration.
A five-year collaborative project between MAS and the team from Waseda University in Egypt, led by Professor Sakuji Yoshimura, began in April 2009 and the first phase of that project was to assess the area around the second hole. ship using a topographic survey and radar survey. A large hook was built over the area surrounding the second boat's hole and with a smaller one, the interior, in order to cover the upper part of the boat itself. The hooks are designed to protect wood debris during analysis and treatment. A laser scan also documented the area and the wall between the Great Pyramid and the ship's moat.
Plans are under way for the construction of a temporary magazine and a laboratory to use during the restoration process. It is also finalizing what technological equipment is going to be installed, including a device to adjust the temperature and humidity, vital for the preservation of the remains of the wooden ship.
Second phase of restoration.
The second phase of the project has started today which involves the movement of the stone blocks that cover the ship's trench. The first stone, out of a total of 41, was carefully raised this morning. To get an idea of the magnitude of the blocks, the largest is 1 meter wide by 4.10 long and weighs 16 tons. Such an unusual operation requires special techniques, in this case, developed by teams from Egypt and Japan on site. The process involves inserting a piece of wood under the covered stone. Each piece has been specifically designed for this purpose with chemical treatment and thermal insulation layers.
Yesterday the teams from Egypt and Japan conducted an experiment to clean the fillings that existed around the stone. During that procedure a cartouche was found for Pharaoh Khufu and next to him was the name of Dyedefra, Crown Prince. This is a very great discovery and it is the second cartouche to be found in the pyramid complex in honor of this pharaoh (the first was inside the Great Pyramid), and which shows us that this ship was built during his reign. The other solar ship, the one already on display, was in a hole displaying a cartridge from Dyedefra, successor to Cheops, which indicates that it was built on a date after the death of the great pharaoh.
In the future it is expected to be able to extract the boat in its entirety, be rebuilt and put on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
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