Archaeologists unearth First Dynasty solar boat at Egypt's Abu Rawash

Pharaohs believed solar boats would transport them in afterlife

CAIRO - Archaeologists from the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO) have discovered a roughly 5,000-year-old pharaonic solar boat in an expedition in Abu Rawash, west of the Egyptian capital, the antiquities ministry said on Wednesday.
The antiquities minister, Mohammed Ibrahim, said the funerary boat was up to 5,000 years old.
"It goes back to the era of Pharaoh Den, one of the First Dynasty kings," he said in a statement.
Unearthed in the northern area of Mastaba number six (a flat-roofed burial structure) at the archaeological site, the boat consists of 11 large wooden planks reaching six metres high and 150 metres wide, Ibrahim said.
The wooden sheets were transported to the planned National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation for restoration and are expected to be put on display at the Nile hall when the museum is finished and opens its doors to the public next year.
The boat "is in good condition," he added. Its planks are now undergoing renovation.
The pharaohs believed that solar boats, buried close to them at death, would transport them in the afterlife.
The IFAO started its excavation works at Abu Rawash in the early 1900s where several archaeological complexes were found.
At the complex of King Djedefre, son of the Great Pyramid King Khufu, Emile Chassinat discovered the remains of a funerary settlement, a boat pit and numerous statuary fragments that bore the name of Fourth Dynasty King Djedefre.
Under the direction of Pierre Lacau, the IFAO continued its excavation work and found new structures to the east of the Djedefre pyramid.
However objects bearing the names of First Dynasty Kings Aha and Den found near the pyramid indicate an earlier presence at Abu Rawash.
In 1954 an Egyptian archaeologist discovered what may be the Pharaoh Khufu's 43-metre solar ship, made of cedar, in a Giza pyramid. The 4,500 year-old intact vessel is on display near the pyramid.