A senior official from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) took a tour of conservation facilities at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) on Sunday afternoon, observing restoration work being conducted on King Khufu’s second solar boat.
Miyahara Chie, the deputy director-general of JICA's Middle East and Europe Department, visited the GEM's conservation laboratories and was updated on work to restore the ancient wooden boat, a project that is partly funded by the Japanese government.
Eissa Zidan, supervisor-general of boat restoration work, told Ahram Online that Chie was very enthusiastic about the restoration project and hopes to see the craft reassembled and put on display at the GEM soon.
Two boats belonging to Pharaoh Khufu were discovered inside two pits in 1954 as Egyptian archaeologists Kamal El-Mallakh and Zaki Nour were carrying out routine cleaning on the southern side of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
After its initial discovery, the first boat was removed piece by piece under the supervision of restoration expert Ahmed Youssef, who spent more than 20 years restoring and reassembling it. The boat is now on display at Khufu’s Solar Boat Museum on the Giza Plateau.
The second boat remained sealed in the neighbouring pit until 1987 when it was examined by the American National Geographic Society in association with the Egyptian Office for Historical Monuments.
In 2009, a Japanese scientific and archaeological team from Waseda University headed by Sakuji Yoshimura offered to remove the boat from the pit, restore and reassemble it, and put it on show to the public. The launch of the project involved a $10 million grant from the Japanese government.