Last weekend, a 4,600-year-old ship once owned by the pharaoh Khufu traveled from its longtime home near the Pyramids of Giza to the Grand Egyptian Museum, a state-of-the-art venue slated to open outside of Cairo in late 2021.
As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports, the 20-ton, 138-foot-long vessel—a solar barque, or solar boat—was found buried next to Khufu’s Great Pyramid in 1954. Experts are unsure of the ship’s exact purpose, writes Kamal Tabikha for the National, but suggest it may have been part of the pharaoh’s fleet in life, or was perhaps designed to carry the resurrected king through the skies following his death.
Egyptian officials transported the cedarwood boat in a shock-absorbing metal container carried by a remote-controlled vehicle imported from Belgium. Though the Pyramids of Giza stand just five miles away from the new museum, the procession had to move slowly to protect the fragile vessel from damage. In total, the trip took ten hours, beginning late Friday night and wrapping up Saturday morning.
“The aim of the transportation project [was] to protect and preserve the biggest and oldest organic artifact made of wood in the history of humanity for … future generations,” says Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in a statement, per a translation by Reuters.