3,800-year-old Boat Tableau Found on Egyptian Wall

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November 6, 2016

Archaeologists have discovered a wall tableau of dozens of boats that date back more than 3,800 years.

The images, which number more than 120, are on the wall of building near the tomb of Pharaoh Senwosret III (left), who ruled 1878–1839 B.C. A powerful leader who enjoyed great military success and a visionary builder who had constructed many famous buildings and other landmarks, Senwosret III was one of just a few kings of Ancient Egypt who enjoyed his own cult in his own lifetime.

The images, which range from 4 inches to nearly 5 feet in width, show masts, sails, cabins, rudder, oars, and other trappings of ancient ships. Some images even show people doing the rowing. Other images showed flowers and animals, notably cattle and gazelles.

Also appearing in other images on the wall would have been a real wooden boat, according to the lead excavator, Josef Wegner. All that remains of that ancient boat are a few planks; archaeologists found evidence that a group of people had taken most of the wood from the boat and reused it elsewhere.

Among the other things discovered recently at the dig was more than 140 pottery vessels buried near the entranceway to the building.

Wegner and his team from the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania have been excavating the mortuary complex of Senwosret III at Abydos for nearly 20 years. The team in 2000 announced the discovery at Abydos of a set of royal solar boats.



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