Archaeologists recreate Egyptians fabled voyage to Land of Punt

March 16th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Cairo, March 16 (ANI): An international team of archaeologists has reconstructed an ancient Egyptian ship of the first quarter of the second millennium BC called Min of the Desert, in order to find how the ancient Egyptians sailed to the fabled Land of Punt.

Until a few years ago, there was a widely held belief that the ancient Egyptians did not travel long distances by sea because of their poor naval technology.

People in the past tended to assume that the ancient Egyptians did not make long-distance trips because little evidence of such journeys has been found.

Based on this belief, they also thought that the Land of Punt, the fabled source of many ancient Egyptian imports, could not have been located in the Horn of Africa, but must have been in southern Sinai.

However, this view is changing.

Now, according to a report in Al-ahram weekly, in order to find how the ancient Egyptians sailed to the Land of Punt, and how did they use their maritime technology to resist the destructive forces of the sea, a team of French, Italian, American and Egyptian archaeologists working with shipping experts have reconstructed an ancient Egyptian ship of the first quarter of the second millennium BC called Min of the Desert.

The idea was to set sail across the Red Sea in order to experience how the ancient Egyptians sailed to Punt and to expand the data available from archaeological evidence and the technical study of ships in ancient Egypt.

Such ships were built without using nails, and the planks used to construct them were designed to fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

The purpose of the expedition was to understand the capabilities of a reconstruction of an ancient Egyptian ship, said ship archaeologist Cheryl Ward of Florida State University.

The rigging of the ship was reconstructed from models and from the bas reliefs at the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Al-Deir Al-Bahari.

Our primary goal was to demonstrate the extraordinary capability of the Egyptians at sea, as many people, including fellow archaeologists, have thought of the Egyptians as tied to the Nile and lacking the ability to go to sea, Ward said.

The test rides were made in the shape of short trips on the Nile, then in the Red Sea, and then in the shape of a longer trial voyage south towards the Sudan from Safaga along the route used by the ancient Egyptians.

According to Mustafa, Once the sail was set, all of us remarked on the efficiency and simplicity of the ship when maneuvering and steering, and on its responsiveness. (ANI)

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