The Solar Boat is a full size ancient Egyptian
boat discovered in a pit at the base of the Great Pyramid
It was reconstructed over a period of fourteen years by a team of archeologists. The reason this took such a long period of time was that the boat was in more than 1200 pieces when discovered. The archeologists who reconstructed it also used only the same materials of wooden pegs and grass rope as well as the original construction methods the ancient Egyptians had used to build it.
The fully reconstructed boat is now housed in a museum near the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is referred as the ‘Solar Boat’ because of its strong resemblance to boats depicted in tomb paintings that carried the sun god across the sky each day.
The Solar Boat’s discovery so near to the Great Pyramid of Giza, tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu has lead some archeologists to believe that it may well have been the funeral barge of the great pharaoh. If it was a royal funeral boat, this might explain why it was found carefully disassembled and sealed inside a limestone chamber at the base of the dead pharaoh’s pyramid.
The reconstructed Solar Boat totals 143 feet in length with a 19 1/2 foot beam. It has been estimated to have a displacement of more than 45 tons. The hull is literally a jigsaw puzzle of hundreds of carefully shaped pieces of wood intricately fitted into each other and held together with reed ropes. This construction was actually highly effective, since the wood would swell when placed in water, while the reed ropes would contract, compacting the wooden hull and making it extremely watertight.
Six long pair of oars, with one positioned at the stern to serve as steering rudders propelled the boat. The boat also boasts an enclosed cabin with a paneled interior, as well as an open canopy centrally located on the open deck and a smaller cabin at the bow.