Monday, 5 December 2016

Czech archaeologists find unique 4500-year-old boat in Egypt

ČTK |
2 February 2016

Cairo, Feb 1 (CTK special correspondent) - Czech archaeologists have uncovered a unique 18-metre-long wooden boat, which is 4,500 years old, in Egypt, Czech Egyptology Institute head Miroslav Barta announced on Monday, during Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek's visit to Cairo.

Experts will now try to find out whom the boat belonged, Barta said after a meeting with Zaoralek and Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh Al-Damaty.

The vessel dates back to the 3rd dynasty, probably the 27th century B.C., Barta said.

"Besides, the boat was found near a tomb that more or less originated from the era of the famous builder of a terraced pyramid and ruler, Djoser, so the owner of this boat and the tomb to which it belongs must have been a completely exceptional personality of the 3rd dynasty," Barta said.

Archaeologists found the boat at the burial ground for clerks in Abusir last year, near the tomb they uncovered in 2009. The name of the tomb's owner is not known due to damage.

The boat's wooden boards were once connected by wooden pegs that are still in place. The desert sand also helped preserve vegetable fibres that were bound into strong bundles and ropes placed inside the boat where the boards were connected, Barta said.

"It is really a very unusual find since vessels of this size and structure were designated only for the most significant members of society then, which were those from the royal family," he noted.

Barta talked to journalists shortly after a meeting between Zaoralek and al-Damaty who appreciated the work of the Czech archaeological team.

Such a vessel has been found near a tomb for the first time, al-Damaty told Czech reporters.

Zaoralek said he had invited al-Damaty to Prague. His visit can be connected with a significant Egyptology exhibition scheduled in Prague for 2019 that should present up to 150 artifacts on 1000 square metres, Zaoralek added.

"Czech Egyptology experts would for the first time in history present even a number of finds they made in the past decade," Zaoralek said.

He also said al-Damaty had assured him that Egypt would do its utmost to be able to provide many archaeological excavations for the exhibition the extent of which would be of international importance.

At the end of his visit to Egypt, Zaoralek is to meet Egyptian President Abdal Fattah Sisi and his counterpart Sami Shukri.

Apart from political and economic issues, Zaoralek will also touch upon the organisation of the great Egyptology exhibition in Prague.

The Czech Institute of Egyptology is one of the world's most prestigious institutions focusing on ancient Egypt. The Czech team in Abusir has traditionally been the largest Czech scientific expedition abroad, annually joined by about 40 foreign experts.

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced the previous significant find by Czechs in January 2015, saying they had found the tomb of the so far unknown Queen Khentakus III, the wife of Pharaoh Raneferef who ruled during the 5th dynasty about 4,500 years ago.

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