The northern side of King Khufu’s great pyramid was brimming with media on Monday. TV anchors, journalists, photographers and archaeologists crowded to witness the Japanese scientific team take samples of wooden beams of Khufu’s second solar boat, which is still buried in its original pit.
These samples, according to Japanese team leader Sakuji Yoshimura, will undergo lab analyses to determine the most appropriate method to restore and reconstruct such a distinguished ancient Egyptian monument: a boat that carries the sun deity.
In the end, the ship will be set on display next to the first one, currently exhibited in a separate museum next to the pyramids.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said that this is the third phase of the restoration of Khufu’s second solar boat. The first was enacted in 1992, when the Japanese government and a Japanese scientific and archaeological team from Waseda University offered a grant of $10 million to unearth, restore, reassemble and put the boat on display.
The second phase opened in mid-2011 when the Egyptian-Japanese team began to lift the 41 blocks that the boat was buried under. Each stone block weights 16 tonnes.
Now the team will work around the clock to get samples and analysis, said Ali El-Asfar, the director of the Giza plateau monuments exhibition, to Ahram Online.
The analysis are essential to discover the causes behind the boat's deterioration and, most importantly, to decide on the most appropriate method to clean the beams and restore the whole boat to its original appearance.