Monday, December 13, 2004


SCA launches operation to rescue sun boats


Egypt online
December 11 , 2004

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) will embark within few days on carrying out an emergency project to rescue the ancient sun boats, dubbed "Cheops" in the Giza pyramids area.

The boats have been badly affected by the strong sun, especially by the ultra-violet rays which damage the organic components of the wooden hulls.

SCA Chairman Zahi Hawas said the sun Boats Museum displays, among others, a boat which is the only one of its kind in the world. The museum's glassy windows allow the sun to penetrate directly into the body of the boat, a matter that exposes the ship to damage. Other museums in the world have only small windows that do not allow the sun rays to penetrate inside, he said.

The SCA has conducted a scientific study proposing a set of measures to preserve the boats. One of these measures is to cover the large windows with a treated plastic material that mitigates the impact of the sun rays and allows slight lighting inside the museum.

The rectangular boat pits found on the south side of the Great Pyramid were discovered in 1954, covered by huge limestone slabs, containing the dismantled remains of two Royal Boats.

It is thought that these boats transported Cheops (Khufu)'s body to his (Greater) Pyramid, since it was a common practice to bury all items connected with the Royal Funeral, close to the' final resting-place of the King.

One of the boats made up of 1,224 separate parts was reconstructed by being stitched together using ropes made of vegetable fibers. After its reassembly, the boat measuring 43.3 (142ft) long is now housed in the Solar Boat Museum next to the pyramid.

The boat pits could have been symbolic transport mechanisms for the King's ascent to the heavens -westwards with the setting sun and eastwards with the rising sun.

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