Wonders of Earth
The reconstructed "Solar barge"
of Khufu-The Khufu ship is an intact
full-size vessel from Ancient Egypt
that was sealed into a pit in the
Giza pyramid complex at the foot of
the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2,500
B.C.E. The ship was almost certainly
built for Khufu (King Cheops), the
second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty
of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
It is one of the oldest,
largest, and best-preserved vessels
from antiquity. At 43.6 m overall,
it is longer than the reconstructed
Ancient Greek trireme Olympias and,
for comparison, nine metres longer
than the Golden Hind in which Francis
Drake circumnavigated the world.
The ship was rediscovered
in 1954 by Kamal el-Mallakh, undisturbed
since it was sealed into a pit carved
out of the Giza bedrock. It was built
largely of cedar planking in the "shell-first"
construction technique and has been
reconstructed from more than 1,200
pieces which had been laid in a logical,
disassembled order in the pit beside
The history and function
of the ship are not precisely known.
It is of the type known as a "solar
barge," a ritual vessel to carry
the resurrected king with the sun
god Ra across the heavens. However,
it bears some signs of having been
used in water, and it is possible
that the ship was either a funerary
"barge" used to carry the
king's embalmed body from Memphis
to Giza, or even that Khufu himself
used it as a "pilgrimage ship"
to visit holy places and that it was
then buried for him to use in the
The Khufu ship has been
on display to the public in a specially
built museum at the Giza pyramid complex