The Grand Egyptian Museum to Display 4,600 Year Old Ship

Egypt presserves world's oldest boat
King Khufu Solar Boat (Olaf Tausch photo / GNU Free Documentation License)

Published Aug 13, 2021 3:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

Egypt is proceeding with efforts to preserve and display the world’s oldest intact ship following the relocation of a 4,600-year-old Pharaoh’s ship to a new museum that is set to open outside the capital Cairo. As part of efforts to preserve its ancient heritage, the country has relocated the King Khufu Solar Boat from the archaeological site of the Giza pyramids to a dedicated building within the Grand Egyptian Museum, a state-of-the-art venue slated to open later this year.

Presumably built for King Khufu, the Solar Boat is considered to be the oldest intact ship in the world. Linking to King Khufu it is believed to have been placed around 2500 BCE in a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza and was discovered in 1954 by the Egyptologist Kamal el-Mallakh. The boat was first shown to the public in 1985 in the Giza Solar Boat Museum, close to where it was found.

The delicate operation to transport the boat to its new home was undertaken the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in collaboration with a consortium of Belgium’s Besix and Egypt’s Orascom Construction. It took six months to prepare for the 10-hour trip operation. The two companies are also in charge of the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest museum dedicated to a single civilization. Earlier this year in a spectacular show, Egypt became moving other artifacts to the museum.

“The project to transport the first Khufu boat aims to preserve the largest, oldest and most important organic relic, made of wood, in human history, which is more than 4600 years old, and to display it in a proper manner commensurate with its importance in the Grand Egyptian Museum,” said the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

The ship, which weighs 45 tons with a length of 143 feet and a width of 19 feet, was transported to its new home by a self-propelled modular transporter that reached its destination at a speed of one kilometer per hour.

“This will be a major museum jewel for the world to which we have just added a fantastic additional piece, the world’s oldest intact ship,” said Pierre Sironval, BESIX Group Deputy CEO.

The Grand Egyptian Museum is one of the largest constructions in modern Egypt and will be the home of thousands of objects documenting Egyptian civilization, including the treasure of Tutankhamun whose 5,300 objects will be displayed for the first time since their discovery in 1922. Built on the Giza Plateau, the museum has a total surface area of approximately five million square feet and is expected to attract millions of visitors annually to Egypt.


(Photo courtesy of Olaf Tausch under GNU Free Documentation License)