Ancient Egyptians were making preparations to assist the dead, particularly kings and emperors, on their journey to the afterlife as early as the Second Dynasty. Monarchs, it is widely assumed, do not travel to the afterlife alone. They are usually buried alongside objects such as swords, and occasionally a human head.
The discovery of a boat dating back more than 5,000 years in Abydos, one of Egypt’s oldest cities, lends credence to the theory that Khasekhemwy, the last Pharaoh of the Second Dynasty, was buried with the boat so he could use it on his journey through the afterlife.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Yale University Expedition to Abydos announced in October 2000 that they had discovered the hull of a 5,000-year-old wooden boat. According to reports, fourteen boats dating back to around 3000 B.C. have been discovered there.
Despite the fact that the boats were discovered near Khasekhemwy’s tomb, researchers believe they were placed there many years before the tomb was built and were intended for a different pharaoh, possibly from the 1st Dynasty.
According to Angela M.H. Schuster, the excavating team at New York University, led by David O’Connor, initially believed that the ships were buried together because they were intended for Khasekhemwy’s tomb.
They believe, however, that the ships were buried hundreds of years before Khasekhemwy’s enclosure was completed. This is based on new information gleaned from an examination of the ship and pottery jars discovered nearby. O’Connor believes Aha, Egypt’s first pharaoh, may have had a similar enclosure next to his tomb. This implies that the fleet was designed with the afterlife in mind.
Ships were an important part of daily life in ancient Egypt, as well as in the country’s religion and mythology. Boats were critical to the movement of people and goods from the south to the north during this civilization due to the flow direction of the Nile.
The ancient Egyptians also believed that the god Ra sailed around the sky in a solar boat. Many paintings and sculptures from this ancient culture depict boats and ships, but only a few real boats have been discovered. In light of this, discovering the boats in Abydos is a significant archaeological accomplishment.
However, it is unknown whether these vessels were used before being buried or if they were built solely for funerary purposes. Nonetheless, this is a rare find because duplicates were typically used at funerals. According to reports, Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered to contain 35 model boats.
The Abydos boats are thought to be the oldest examples of “constructed boats” that have survived to this day. These are boats made of planks that are joined together, as opposed to reed boats and dugout logs. As a result, the Abydos boats represent an important step in the evolution of boats.