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Sunday, 16 June 2019

Japan ambassador pays first visit to Khufu boat under restoration at GEM

Japan's ambassador to Egypt and his wife paid their first visit to King Khufu's second solar boat

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 21 Feb 2016
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Zidan shows Kagawa the current restoration work on khufu's second solar boat (photo courtesy of Eissa Zidan)
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Japanese ambassador to Egypt Takehiro Kagawa and his wife paid their first visit to King Khufu's second solar boat, now under restoration at the laboratory of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza plateau.

Eissa Zidan, director of the restoration department at the GEM, guided them through their visit to check the restoration works being carried out by the Japanese-Egyptian team in an attempt to reconstruct King Khufu's second solar boat to its original look.

Takehiro was very happy with the works achieved so far, and wrote in the visiting book of the GEM that he wishes the team the best luck in achieving their goal.

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Zidan and the Japanese visitors at the pit where the boat was found (photo courtesy of Eissa Zidan)

Zidan told Ahram Online that the restoration team is now working on the third phase of the five-stage project to restore Khufu's second boat.

The first phase began over 20 years ago, when in 1992 a Japanese scientific and archaeological team from Waseda University, in collaboration with the Japanese government, offered a grant of $10 million to remove the boat from its original pit, restore and reassemble it, and put it on show to the public.

The team cleaned the pit of insects and the Japanese team inserted a camera through a hole in the chamber's limestone to assess the boat's condition inside the pit and the possibility of its restoration.

Images taken show layers of wooden beams and timbers of cedar and acacia, as well as ropes, mats and remains of limestone blocks and small pieces of white plaster.

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The visitors at Giza plateau (photo courtesy of Eissa Zidan)

Basel Yoshimura, the director of the Japanese team, told Ahram Online that during the team’s inspection they found that the second boat was in a much better state of preservation than the first when it was discovered in 1954 by architect and archaeologist Kamal El-Malakh, together with Zaki Nour, during routine cleaning on the south side of the Great Pyramid.

The first boat was removed piece by piece under the supervision of master restorer Ahmed Youssef, who spent more than 20 years restoring and reassembling the boat.

The second boat remained sealed in its pit until 1987, when it was examined by the American National Geographic Society by remote camera. After the space inside the pit was photographed and air measurements were taken, the pit was resealed.

It was thought that the pit had been so well sealed that the air inside would be as it had been since ancient Egyptian times. Sadly though, Yoshimura pointed out that this was not the case. Air had leaked into the pit from outside and mixed with the air inside. This had allowed insects to thrive and negatively affect some wooden beams.

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Zidan,Kagawa and the Japanese Egyptian restoration team at the GEM lab (photo courtesy of Eissa Zidan)

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