Replica of 3,800-yr-old Egyptian ship recreates voyage to ”God’’s Land”

March 8th, 2009 - 1:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 8 (ANI): An international team of archaeologists, shipwrights and sailors has recently built a full-scale replica of a 3,800-year-old ship and sailed it on the Red Sea to re-create a voyage to a place the ancient Egyptians called God’’s Land, or Punt. Their expedition was financed and filmed as part of a French documentary that will air internationally. According to maritime archaeologist Cheryl Ward, an associate professor of anthropology at The Florida State University, “This project has demonstrated the extraordinary capability of the Egyptians at sea.” “Many people, including my fellow archaeologists, think of the Egyptians as tied to the Nile River and lacking in the ability to go to sea. For 25 years, my research has been dedicated to showing the scope of their ability and now, to proving their independently invented approach to ship construction worked magnificently at sea,” she added. The project grew out of the 2006 discovery of the oldest remains of seafaring ships in the world in manmade caves at Wadi Gawasis, on the edge of the Egyptian desert. Scholars had long known that Egyptians traveled to Punt, but they debated its exact location and whether the Egyptians reached Punt by land or by sea. “Some had thought the ancient Egyptians did not have the naval technology to travel long distances by sea, but the findings at Wadi Gawasis confirmed that Egyptians sailed a 2,000-mile round trip voyage to Punt, located in what is today Ethiopia or Yemen,” Ward said. Ward enlisted the FSU Master Craftsman Program to build small-scale models of the ship to help her to refine details of the plank shape and layout. By October 2008, the 66-foot-long by 16-foot-wide ship, was completed using the techniques of the ancient Egyptians - no frames, no nails and planks that were designed to fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. After immersing the ship in the Nile to permit the timbers to swell closed around the wood fastenings, mounting the rigging and testing the steering system, they transported the complete ship by truck to the Red Sea - rather than carry it piece by piece across the desert as the ancient Egyptians would have done. “The ship’’s speed means that journeys would be made in much less time than Egyptologists had calculated, making the whole voyage simpler and more feasible for the ancients,” Ward said, adding that it probably took about a month to sail to Punt and two months to return. (ANI)

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