Great Pyramid of Giza from south showing the solar boat museum.
The solar boats of ancient Egyptians were large ships that were made out of cedar wood. They were used in religious rituals during Pharaonic times. The solar boats were used as a symbol of the journey of the god Ra, the god of the sun, in his day and night journeys. The sun god Ra, according to the ancient Egyptian methodology, used to benefit from the stars and their position to row and to travel from one place to another. In these journeys Ra used to go on, he used to purify the world from wicked souls and the people used to worship him and present him with offerings.
The priests placed his body in this solar boat to go on a journey to visit Heliopolis and other cities before they land in his royal necropolis in Giza. Afterward, the priests dissembled the solar boat into smaller pieces before they buried these pieces near the pyramids and titled it the Boat of Cheops.
It was constructed to the south of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The museum is equipped with modern techniques and technologies in order to preserve the solar boat.
The museum was constructed to contain three floors to enable the visitors to view the boat from three different levels.
When the Egyptian antiquities inspector responsible for the area of Giza, Mohamed Zaki Nour, the civil engineer who was in charge of cleaning up the area of the Pyramids of Giza, Kamal Al Malakh, and the supervisor of the cleaning process of the area, Doctor Abdel Men’em Abu Bakr were finishing their work at the pyramids, they found out what seemed to be a wall made out of limestone. After a lot of digging in the ground, they reached the bottom of the wall and found 42 pieces of rock that were divided into two groups to protect them against any outer dangers or harm. On the 26th of May 1954, the nozzle of the hole where the pieces of the solar boat were opened and everybody who was there smelled the distinctive scent of the cedar wood.
The solar boat that was discovered in the year 1954 near the Great Pyramid of Giza consists of 1224 pieces of wood. It took over ten years to complete and was finally fully re-assembled in 1968. No nails were used in the construction and the planking was assembled through an ingenious system of stitching through holes with ropes of vegetable fibres. When the wood was swollen by water the ropes would tighten and make the boat watertight.
The boat is 44 meters long and around 5.9 meters wide and it has 12 paddles.
Five of them were used for rowing from each side with four of these five paddles made in the shape of a bayonet that was used by the unseen sailors to protect the boat in its journey. This is beside two paddles that were used to correct the path of the boat the same way the rudder functions.
A compartment that stands upon three circular columns is located at the stern of the solar boat. This compartment has a double ceiling based upon some pillars that were made in the shape of the papyrus plants. The function of this compartment was to protect the captain of the boat against the sun’s rays.
Moreover, the boat had a primitive yet intelligent tool to examine the depths were the boat is sailing to prevent it from hitting any sand islands or beaches. This tool was manufactured in the shape of the two most important plants for the ancient Egyptians; the Lotus and the Papyrus.
The solar boat was transferred from its original location inside its museum in the area of the Pyramids of Giza to the location of new Egyptian Museum of Antiquities near Al Remaya Square in Giza. This process was carried out with the help of UNESCO. Zahi Hawas has announced that the idea behind the relocation of the solar boat was because the boat was exposed to many types of pollutions.