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SHIPS AND BOATS OF EGYPT

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Author Topic: SHIPS AND BOATS OF EGYPT  (Read 15215 times)
Bianca
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« on: January 05, 2008, 09:29:18 am »

                               

                                4000 BC ancient egyptian sailing boat, side view.






                                      S H I P S   A N D   B O A T S   O F   E G Y P T





By Marie Parsons
 
When men live by water, whether marsh, river, or sea, they eventually discover ways to build vehicles to move across that water. Egypt’s life has always turned around its River, the Nile, and its marshes in the Delta.

The cheapest form of primitive boat was the pot boat, simply a clay container large enough to accommodate a passenger. It was meant for places free of rocks and was ideal for getting around the marshy areas of the Nile delta. Egypt was fairly treeless and it would be difficult to find other means of building boats. The Egyptians did find enough wood to make planked boats. There is evidence that the Old Kingdom of Egypt had the first planked boats ever made. These were used even in burial rituals. Fourteen have recently been found buried in the region of Abydos.

                                           

                                             An Egyptian boat model,
                                             Museum of Fine Arts,

                                             Houston.






The boat made out of planks was an improvement on the dugout which was hollowed out of a single log. In southern Egypt, archaeologists have found a multitude of pictures of boats that, shortly before 3100 BCE, were drawn on rock outcrops or were included as part of the decoration on pottery. Among them, are some that show a mast with a broad square sail hung from it. The tombs of Egypt have yielded pictures and even models of a variety of river craft, from tiny rowboats through swift yachts and dispatch boats to enormous barges large enough to carry huge obelisks weighing hundreds of tons from the quarries.

The earliest surviving example of a sewn boat, one which had the side planking sewn together with fibers, cords, or thongs, was found beside the great pyramid of Giza. It is most probably a descendant of boats going back into Egypt’s predynastic times.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2008, 07:15:02 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2008, 09:38:09 am »



Representation of an Egyptian wall painting --
the earliest known image of a boat

(from The Story of the Ship, 1919)







The Nile River was the catalyst for these and more early boats. It is a perfect waterway, running some 500 miles from the beginning of the delta near Cairo to the First Cataract at Aswan (Elephantine). Since the prevailing wind blows against the flow of the water, boatmen could drift downstream (or with the current), and when returning they could raise sail and be gently driven back home. The Egyptians were also the first recorded people to use sails on their craft.

If wood was scarce in Egypt, reeds were not. For their first water transport, the Egyptians turned to these bulrushes. By the middle of the fourth millennium BCE they were building rafts of bundles of reeds tied together, eventually learning to shape them, making them long and narrow and gracefully bowed. They fashioned paddles to propel the rafts and mounted paddles to serve as rudders. They built craft large enough to accommodate two deck cabins and require a long line of rowers to move them.

The first sail was probably a large leafy frond set up in the bow. This method was actually still being used in some places in Africa by the 19th century ACE. By about 3500 BCE the Egyptians had replaced this leaf frond with a true sail, made of woven reeds or leaves set on a vertical mast, shaped square.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 10:40:09 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2008, 09:39:42 am »










By the Old Kingdom, reed ships were now taking on a more boat-like shape, with a spoonlike form and a prow and stern that came together into a point, often finished off with an ornament shaped like a lotus bud. But with the new pyramid-building program, stone was required—stone which could only be obtained from quarries on the other side of the river or upstream at Aswan. Riverboats were needed that could transport huge limestone blocks. Boats now had to be made of wood.

These first wooden boats were more or less replicas of the earlier reed boats. They were built square at each end, more barge than boat. Since Egypt lacked good timber, the shipwrights devised a special technique. They used the acacia tree, with brittle wood which only comes in short lengths. But they cut planks three feet long, put together like brick, building up the hull from a central plank laid for the bottom. They would join the three foot planks together edge to edge by means of long close-set dowels, and when the hull was built up they stretched crossbeams over it. They made no ribs or frames, and caulked on the inside, using papyrus fibers.

The Pharaoh Snefru, who ruled Egypt about 2600 BCE, was reported to have imported forty ships filled with cedar logs to build more ships. Cedar came from Phoenicia in what is now Lebanon. In the tombs of pharaohs and nobles in earlier dynasties, archaeologists have found jars and pitchers made in Palestine and Syria, and in those lands, they have dug up artifacts that were unquestionably Egyptian. Were these transfers of objects done by land or by sea?

Egypt also needed myrrh for unguents and embalming, and frankincense to burn with myrrh in its temples. These products came from southern Arabia and parts of what is now Ethiopia and Somalia. The only alternative to the overland route with all its middlemen and increase in prices and costs was by water down the Red Sea. But the Nile was separated from the Red Sea, the closest place between being an eight-day march across desert, near the Wadi Hammamat. A minister of Mentuhotep III, named Henu, inscribed how he was assigned the job of dispatching a ship to the land of Punt to gather myrrh. But first he had to take 3000 men to the Red Sea and build the ship.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 10:39:31 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2008, 09:40:45 am »








In the Western or European world, boats have been built starting with a skeleton of keel and ribs, with a skin of planking attached. The Egyptians constructed their vessels, whether small or large, without keel, and with few, very light ribs. They had no violent storms, winds ripping currents or waves; they mostly sailed a river. The only stiffening provided beyond a handful of ribs consisted of beams run from side to side on which the deck was laid.

When Sahure in 2450 BCE wanted to transport men to the Lebanon coast, boats were needed that adapted this river-design to sea sailing. Around one end of the vessel was looped an enormous hawser, which was carried along the centerline above the deck and looped about the other end. A stout pole was then placed through the strands of the hawser, where it passed over the deck, and by twisting, one could tighten the entire harness just like a tourniquet. This served for internal stiffening, as the hawser kept the ends from sagging when the boat rode heavy waves. An elaborate netting was also added, which ran horizontally about the upper part of the hull. This may have been another aid for holding the ship together, or merely gear to protect the sides from rubbing.

A two-legged mast rather than the single mast was also designed, and it served to distribute the pressure, steadied by lines fore and aft. A tall, slender square-sail was mounted with two spars spreading it, a yard along the head, and a boom along the foot. When there was no wind, sail was taken in, the mast lowered, and rowers could power the ship along.
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2008, 09:41:52 am »



Middle Colonnade Relief, South Side
Relief Depicting the Expedition to the Land of Punt   








A thousand years later, shipbuilders were designing the ships that were shown on Hatshepsut’s reliefs. These had graceful lines and were faster than Sahure’s ships. The sail was broader, not as tall as before, extremely wide. There were fifteen rowers along each side, the overall length of these ships must have been about 90 feet. This gave not only more strength but was easier to construct., and permitted the use of a much shorter mast. Trade with Punt was steady and enriching.

Also, obelisks for her temple needed to be transported from Aswan quarries. These obelisks were each almost 100 feet high, and the barge built to ferry them was some 200 feet long with a beam of 70 feet. The barge had three rows of crossbeams instead of just one. It required almost 30 oar-driven tugs, each with 30 rowers, to tow that barge.

During the reign of Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut’s successor, Egypt’s trade increased still more. Punt provided incense, ivory, and rare woods. Copper was brought from Cyprus and silver from Asia Minor. One king of Cyprus in turn requested horses, chariots, a wooden gold plated bed, jars of oil. In another letter he requests a sorcerer who is expert with eagles. These things all could only be shipped by sea. A record of such trade activity stands as a painting on the wall of the tomb chamber of Kenamun, official under Amenhotep III.

The decades just before and after 1200 BCE were politically troubled for Egypt. A wave of invading peoples came out of the eastern Mediterranean right to their very shores. Ramesses III repelled this invasion, celebrating his victory by carving on the temple wall an account accompanied by reliefs describing the sea battle. The description of the Egyptian ships shows that their warships at least have become shorter and heavier in the hull, the anti-sagging truss has disappeared, indicating that some other method of inner strength had been utilized. The elegant curved stern, too delicate for war, was replaced by an undecorated sloping stern and the sternpost replaced by a simple projection ending in a lion’s head. Egypt had joined the rest of the Mediterranean in building its watercraft for war.





Sources:


The Ancient Mariners by Lionel Casson

Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times by Lionel Casson


http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/shipsandboats.htm
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 10:48:29 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2008, 10:49:57 am »



Relief showing ships which participated in the expedition to Punt.
This mural and others adorn the walls of Queen Hatshepsut's
temple at Deir el-Bahri.






Line drawing copy from a relief of Queen Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 10:53:52 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 09:05:31 pm »



THE SOLAR BARQUE OF KHUFU






   In 1954, the Egyptian archaeologist Kamal el Mallak made an astonishing discovery. In a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid, he uncovered the world's oldest planked vessel. Buried in pieces by Khufu's son, the so-called Solar Barque may have carried the pharaoh's body across the Nile for burial, or it may have served solely a symbolic purpose, lying ready to transport the king in the afterlife.
 
The boat's 1,224 separate components included cedarwood planking and oars, ropes of halfa grass, wooden dowels and battens, and copper staples. Its near-perfect preservation allowed conservators to reconstruct the 144-foot-long craft, which is now housed in a white museum built over the pit where it was found. Modern ropes were used to lash it together, but its timbers are 95 percent original.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:12:27 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 09:15:11 pm »

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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 09:18:42 pm »

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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 09:20:06 pm »



One of the two huge boat pits right in front
of the eastern side of the Pyramid of Khufu.






There are several boat pits near the pyramid of Khufu, 5 to the east and 2 to the south. The designers of the pyramid complex designed it all as a port for the Netherworld. The boats would bring the pharaoh and the royal family on the eternal journey of the sun, which they embarked upon in the world beneath the surface of the world.

The solar boat which now is exhibited in the Solar Boat Museum was discovered in 1954 in 1224 separate parts. It appears that the boat was deliberately dismantled.

The reconstruction took 14 years, but was helped by U-shaped holes allowing for the boat to be stitched together by ropes or vegetable fibres. The boat is an impressive 43 metres long and 6 metres wide.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:28:12 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2008, 09:32:49 pm »









Planks with mortises, tenons and V-shaped holes



In modern ship construction a skeleton is built first which is then covered with a skin. During the Old and Middle Kingdoms ships were built from the outside in. This way of doing things was mostly due to a lack of timber suitable for keels, but continued for centuries after they began importing cedar wood from Byblos which was long enough for keels.

    Mortises were cut into the planks into which wooden tenons were inserted. The V-shaped holes did not penetrate the outer surface.




 
 Joining



    The irregularly shaped planks were butted together in puzzle fashion until the whole skin was constructed. Because of the need to cut mortises the hull was much thicker than it would have been, had it been built around a skeleton.
    A special problem facing the shipwrights must have been the bending of such thick planks (5 centimetres or more) into the appropriate shape.





 Caulking



    For caulking plant matter such as reeds was used, which was covered and held in place by rounded battens, which were held in place by ropes drawn through holes carved into the planks.
    These ropes also kept the whole ship together.





 Reinforcing the structure



    To prevent deformation and collapse of the vessel, ribs and crossbeams were added. Large-sized ships had to be reinforced in the longitudinal direction as well. In the absence of a keel the flat bottom could warp. A thick rope was tied under tension from stern to bow and provided the necessary rigidity. Khufu's solar boat was strengthened by two girders which ran along either side of the deck and were lashed to the crossbeams.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:39:36 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2008, 09:40:35 pm »






« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:41:52 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2008, 09:43:06 pm »






« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:44:06 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2008, 09:45:12 pm »









http://terraflex.co.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/shipconstruction.htm
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:46:59 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2008, 09:48:55 pm »



Khufu, Khafre, and Menakura Pyramids, with the Solar Boat building
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 09:51:42 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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