The Royal Boat of Cheops (Khufu)

In 1954 two pits were discovered in the desert sand on the southern side of the Cheops pyramid. They were about 31 m long and covered with 41 huge limestone blocks. In one of the two pits the archaeologists found the remains of a large royal boat. It is the most important boat of Ancient Egypt and is called the Sun boat or Sun bark of Pharaoh Cheops. It consists of 1,224 wooden parts which had been well preserved over 4,600 years. That was only possible because the pit was airtight and watertight. The royal boat was put together again using all the parts and the 23 m long planks without having to use a single nail. The planks of cedarwood which came from Lebanon were tied together with ropes. They were pulled through a system of holes and then knotted inside the hull. The boat had a flat bottom without a keel, was 43.3 m long and 5.9 m wide. It displaced 40 tons. The wooden cabin on deck (9.1 m long) is covered with a frame made of horizontal and vertical round pieces of wood. Probably it was covered with material to achieve the right temperature.
It is assumed that the royal boat was built soon after Cheops death and only made one single journey. The body of the king was taken on the Nile to the traditional places of pilgrimage. The six pairs of rudders (with a length of 6.8 to 7.8 m) kept the boat on course. Most probably the royal boat was drawn by smaller rowing-boats. It was possibly buried near the pyramid to enable the king to continue his journey after his death.

copyright © Aue-Verlag