Oldest remains of sea-faring ships reported found
and World Science staff
Archaeologists say they have uncovered the oldest remains of sea-faring ships in the world and cargo boxes containing goods from the “lost” land of Punt, a fabled southern Red Sea trading center.
The finds turned up during excavations in two man-made caves that the team said it had uncovered on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.
“One of the rooms contained coils of ship rope, all neatly tied and knotted – just as the sailors left them almost 4,000 years ago,” said Boston University’s Kathryn Bard, co-director of the excavations. “The view into this cave is truly astonishing.”
Well-preserved cedar planks and decking timber showed the ancient Egyptians were excellent ship builders and provide further evidence that they reached Punt by sea, the researchers said. They added that the findings may help researchers determine the location of Punt, a long-time puzzle.
The archaeologists also reported finding five parallel rock-cut rooms that served as storage areas for ship equipment, a large stone anchor, shards of Egyptian storage jars, and a limestone tablet, or stela, of Pharaoh Amenemhat III inscribed with his five royal names.
Last spring, at the time they unearthed the caves, the researchers said they found two intact cedar steering oars. They speculated that these were used on 70-foot-long ships from a 15th-century naval expedition launched by Egypt’s Queen Hatshepsut to Punt.
Well-preserved and intact, the oars are the first complete parts from a sea-faring ship to have been found in Egypt, they added. Near the oars were pieces of pottery dating from 1500-1400 B.C. and a stela with hieroglyphic inscriptions detailing the trade expeditions to Punt.
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