April 12, 2012

The Royal Ship of Khufu Facts

The Royal Ship of Khufu
During clearance work close to the south side of the Great Pyramid in May 1954, Kamal el-Mallakh found a series of 41 large blocking stones, with an average weight of 18 tons each, which had hermetically sealed a 101 -ft (30.8-m) long rock-cut pit. Within it were the remains of a magnificent 141 -ft (43-m) long ship of cedar wood. Too long for the pit intended for it, it had been carefully dismantled into 650 parts comprising 1224 pieces.

After many years of patient restoration work by Hag Ahmed Youssef Moustafa (who had also been responsible for the restoration of Hetep-heres' furniture), the ship was presented to the world in March 1982 in a specially designed museum which incorporated the pit in which it had lain for 4500 years. Not all the problems posed in conserving the ship have yet been solved by the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation; until they are, the opening of a second sealed pit discovered near the first will be postponed. Recent tests have indicated that it also contains a ship, but not in such good condition.
Royal Ship of Khufu
It is a remarkable quirk of fate that for all the grandeur of Khufu's pyramid, his funeral boat, and the splendid style of his mother's funerary furnishings, there remains only one tiny portrait of the king himself, found by Flinders Petrie in the old temple of Osiris at Abydos in 1903. In a curious inverse ratio we find that the smallest statue represents the builder of the greatest pyramid, while some of the finest multiple statues extant from the Old Kingdom represent the builder of the smallest of the Giza pyramids, Menkaure (fifth ruler of the 4th Dynasty).

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