4,600-year-old pharaoh’s boat makes 48-hour journey to new museum

Hatem Maher/ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A 4,600-year-old intact wooden boat bearing the name of Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh, Khufu, was transported to a new museum about 7 kilometers away from Cairo’s Great Pyramid in a 48-hour journey that Egypt’s antiquities ministry described as a “unique archaeological and engineering project.”

The boat, measuring 42 meters in length and weighing 20 tons, was transported from the Great Pyramid to the Grand Egyptian Museum in a “metal cage lifted on a smart remote-control vehicle,” the antiquities ministry said in a statement.

Surrounding roads were sealed off, with residents taking glimpse of the low-key parade through their home windows as the journey concluded in the early hours of Saturday.

“The boat was exhibited inside a museum bearing its name at Giza Plateau, which was not equipped with the latest technological equipment to house and display this magnificent artifact,” the ministry statement read.

“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 subdued event stood in stark contrast to the glittering ceremony Egypt held in April to convey 22 mummies from the 120-year-old Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square to the newly inaugurated National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the old Islamic city of Fustat.

However, Saturday’s procession still looked imposing, with the giant black vehicle decorated with a drawing of the ancient boat and illuminated with fluorescent colors as it roamed through an ancient area housing many of its pharaonic treasures.

The boat was discovered in 1954 at the southern corner of the Great Pyramid, which was built as a tomb for Khufu and is the only surviving wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

“The transportation of Khufu’s first boat is one of the most important, challenging, and unique archaeological and engineering project,” said Atef Moftah, the general supervisor of GEM.

GEM, which Egypt says will be the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization, is due to open later this year.

Egypt hopes the museum’s inauguration and a series of high-profile discoveries made in recent years will help revive its ailing tourism industry, which makes up around 15% of the country’s gross domestic product.

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