Archaeologists in Egypt believed in the year 2000
that that had found the earliest surviving example of a purpose-built
The subject of their findings was thought to date
to circa 3,000 BC and was found at a royal burial site. Older,
hollowed-out logs, which are thought to have been used as canoes,
have been found in Africa and Europe, but the researchers in Egypt
believed that their find was the first surviving example of complex
The archaeologists behind the discovery knew that
at least a dozen ancient boats were buried at the royal burial site
at Abydos, about 450km (280 miles) south of Cairo.
Boat for the afterlife
Part of one craft had now been fully excavated by an
American team which stated that it was hundreds of years older than
any previous similar craft so far to have been found in Egypt.
However, similar collections of buried boats have
since been found, most of which date to the period between the Early
Dynastic period at the start of the Archaic Period and the Third
Dynasty at the start of the Old Kingdom period.
The Abydos boat was thought to be about twenty-five
metres long and less than a metre deep and was made of thick wooden
planks lashed together with rope. The archaeologists were able to
date the find to the beginnings of the rise of ancient Egyptian
civilisation, suggesting that the boat may have been intended for
the use of a pharaoh in the afterlife.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when a pharaoh
died he would sail down the Nile, along with the sun god Ra. Traces
of yellow pigment were found on the craft suggesting the boat was
brightly painted. Further excavations were planned at the site in
the winter of 2001.