FOUND: An Incredibly Well Preserved Egyptian Funeral Boat From 4,500 Years Ago - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

FOUND: An Incredibly Well Preserved Egyptian Funeral Boat From 4,500 Years Ago

That was a boat, 4,500 years ago (Photo: Czech Institute of Egyptology/V. Dulikova)

In the desert sand of Abusir, an archaeological site south of Cairo, archaeologists from the Czech Republic have uncovered a boat that was made 4,500 years ago.

The boat is 60 feet long and incredibly well preserved—it’s still possible to observe the wooden planks that make up its sides, the pegs that connected the boards, and the plant fibers that lashed them together. It’s probably the most whole example of any boat of this age ever found in Egypt.

The boat was discovered at the site of a mud brick tomb. Archaeologists do not totally understand why Egyptians buried boats with their dead, but they’re usually connected to royal burials. It’s not known who was interred in this tomb, but archaeologists believe the person was a very high ranking member of Egyptian society circa 2550 B.C. 

Because the vessel is so well preserved, it could give scientists clues about the techniques Egyptians used for building boats—even the ones meant to be used in life. After all, you don’t want your boat to leak, regardless of whether it’s crossing a river on Earth or the time-space of the afterworld.

Bonus finds: A reason that time goes forward

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.