by Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 16 Feb 2012
At an international press conference held on Egypt's Giza Plateau next Monday, Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim is expected to announce the launch of the second phase of the Khufu solar boat restoration project, which is being carried out in collaboration with a Japanese archaeological team from Wasida University.
Ibrahim told Ahram Online that the team would collect samples of the boat’s wooden beams for analysis on Monday in order to draw up accurate plans for the boat's restoration in a special museum located on the plateau.
The first phase of the project, carried out two years ago, assessed the area surrounding the second boat pit with the use of topographical radar surveys. A large hangar has since been built over the second pit, with a smaller hangar erected inside to cover the top of the boat itself. The hangars were especially designed to protect the wooden remains during the project's analysis and treatment phases.
A laser scanning survey has also documented the area, particularly the wall between the Great Pyramid and the boat pit. Ibrahim pointed out that the first phase had also included the raising of 41 stone blocks that had covered the pit containing Khufu's second solar boat for the last 4,500 years.
The second boat, found along with the first one in 1954 by late Egyptian archaeologist Kamal El-Malak, is currently on display at a special museum on the northern side of Khufu’s Great Pyramid. The first boat was removed piece by piece and reconstructed by late Egyptian engineer Ahmed Youssef over the course of a 20-year period.
The second boat remained largely buried in sand until 1992, when a Japanese archaeological team from Waseda University offered a $10 million grant to unearth, restore and display it to the public.
Abdel Hamid Maarouf, head of the ministry's ancient Egypt department, said the team had cleared the pit of insects and found a hieroglyphic cartouche bearing the names of Fourth Dynasty King Khufu and Crown Prince Djedefre.
Ali El-Asfar, head of operations at the Giza Plateau, said that the Japanese team had also found that water had leaked from the nearby museum housing the first solar boat. The leak, they noted, had adversely affected some of the boat's wood, making it necessary to quickly wrap up the analysis phase and restore the water-damaged wood.