King Khufu's Boat, the oldest and biggest wooden boat discovered in Egypt, has been relocated from its home near the Giza pyramids to the country's soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) nearby, officials announced Saturday.
The 4,600-year-old vessel, also known as the Solar Boat, measures 137.8 ft (42-m) in length and weighs 20 tons. It was carefully moved in one piece inside a metal cage carried on a remote-controlled vehicle imported from Belgium just for the operation.
فيلم قصير يستعرض لقطات عن نقل— Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (@TourismandAntiq) August 10, 2021
مركب الملك خوفو الأولى من منطقة أهرامات الجيزة إلى المتحف المصري الكبير.
A short film showing clips of transporting King Khufu's first boat from the Giza pyramids to the Grand Egyptian Museum pic.twitter.com/IIj902g9BZ
"The aim of the transportation project is to protect and preserve the biggest and oldest organic artifact made of wood in the history of humanity for the future generations," the tourism and antiquities ministry said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.
The vessel's journey to its new home began late on Friday and took 48 hours to complete. The ministry said it arrived at the GEM in the early hours of Saturday.
What you need to know about the Solar Boat
It is the world's oldest and largest wooden boat discovered in Egypt, but it wasn't built to sail the seas in contrast to what its name might suggest.
It belonged to Pharaoh King Khufu, a Fourth Dynasty monarch who ruled during the Old Kingdom period (26th century B.C.). In ancient Egypt, pharaohs commissioned solar boats, which were essentially ritual vessels, to transport them to the afterlife with the sun god Ra. To fulfill their purpose, they were buried in pits next to royal burial chambers.
King Khufu's Boat was constructed primarily of Lebanon cedar planking in the "shell-first" construction technique, with unpegged tenons of Christ's thorn serving as the primary structural elements. It was discovered in 1954 at the Great Pyramid's southern corner and had been on display for decades at a museum bearing its name at Giza Plateau.
Over 50 years later, the boat is now located at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which will open its doors later this year after a 17-year construction period. When it opens, it will have over 100,000 artifacts and will be "the largest archaeological museum in the world."