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Reconstruction of Khufu’s Second Ship is Nearly Complete

The restoration for Khufu's second sun ship, done with the help of Tokyo’s Waseda University, is almost complete and ready for the new Grand Egyptian Museum.

In 1954, a team of archaeologists discovered the only known possessions of the ancient pharaoh King Cheops - two 4,700 year old sun boats lying in pits a few metres south of the great pyramid Khufu, named in his honour. They had been carefully dismantled and stacked neatly, with hieroglyphic directions inscribed on the planks. Ancient Egyptians believed the inscriptions would help reconstruct the boats in the afterlife.

The first boat was relatively well preserved and now resides in the Solar Boat Museum at Giza. The second boat, however, required one of the world's most extraordinary excavations. We're talking about 1,272 pieces of extremely delicate wood that make up the 42-metre-long boat exposed to fluctuating temperature and humidity that could have caused all sorts of deformities and cracks. This meant that in 2009, a team from Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities and Tokyo's Waseda University had to build a fully blown 35m wide, 6m tall laboratory on the site of the excavation without the use of heavy equipment.

Since then, conservators painstakingly cleaned each individual piece, filled in gaps with conservation materials, and re-joined broken fragments with the determination to restructure it in time for the opening of The Grand Egyptian Museum, set for 2021. This week, Director General of the Executive Affairs for Restoration at the Grand Egyptian Museum and Supervisor of the restoration process of the second Khufu Ship Issa Zeidan announced the completion of about 98 percent of the first phase. We're sure Khufu would be rowing in his grave.