Zidan with the team during the packing of the beams
Within the framework of the Ministry of Antiquities to restore King Khufu's second solar boat, still buried in its pit neighbouring the Great Pyramid of Khufu, a second batch of 26 wooden beams have been transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).
Eissa Zidan, supervisor of the restoration work of the boat, told Ahram Online that the beams were in a very critical condition as they were partly damaged by the underground water and the leakage of water of the neighbouring museum that displays the first solar boat of King Khufu, as well as from insects.
He continued to say that these beams were restored in situ in the laboratory established by the Japanese team led by Professor Sakuji Yoshimura and then transported to the GEM in order to be stored until the completion of the boat's restoration work.
"When all the beams area is restored the whole boat will be reconstructed in order to be ready to be exhibited beside the first one in a special display at the GEM when inaugurated," Zidan asserted. He also added that by the transmission of this collection, the number of beams transported to the GEM has reached 257 pieces from a collection of 567 beams that have emerged from the pit that still under restoration in the laboratory on site.
Zidan said that among the transported beams is the door lock of the boat's main shrine dedicated to the king.
The door-lock of the shrine
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that this is the third phase of a five-stage project to restore Khufu's second boat. The first phase began 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.
two beams of the boat
Yoshimura told Ahram Online that during the Egyptian-Japanese team 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 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. Though sadly, 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.
beams in storage