Extensive wall decoration of boats found in ancient Egyptian tomb

Archaeologists discovered an ancient boat burial linked to Pharaoh Senusret III in Abydos, Egypt. Alongside boat burial remains about 120 boat images depicting Pharaonic watercraft were found on the interior walls of the building complex.

The tomb (by International Business Times)
The tomb (by International Business Times)

The building complex in which the discoveries were made dates back 3800 years and was built near the tomb of Pharaoh Senwosret/Senusret III. The existence of the building was first noted in a 1904 report by an Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) team that worked at Abydos between 1901 and 1903. The series of images of wooden boats found only recently in the excavated interior space of the structure  shows more than 120 of ancient Egyptian vessels.

Overview of the tomb (by International Business Times)
Overview of the tomb (by International Business Times)

The ancient Egyptian practice of burying boats close to royal tombs is well recognised. At the site only a few planks remain of the wooden boat, which would have been constructed locally or dragged across the desert. But the series of images, called a tableau, depicts real wooden boats of which the largest image is 1.5 metres in length and smallest 10 centimetres. The images mostly show large, well-rendered boats with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars and in some cases rowers. In addition to the boats, the tableau contains incised images of gazelle, cattle and flowers

One of the walls (by Mirror)
One of the walls (by Mirror)

The interior of the building covers nearly 21 by 4 metres. Near its entrance archaeologists found more than 145 pottery vessels, many of which are buried with their necks facing toward the building’s entrance. The archaeologists suppose that those attending a funerary ceremony could have spilled liquid from the pots on the ground on purpose or water and other liquids may have been used to lubricate and solidify the ground along the path of the boat as it was pulled from the floodplain to its desert resting place.

Selected ship images  (by International Business Times)
Selected ship images (by International Business Times)

The authors of the boat images and their reasons of creating them are unknown to the experts. But is believed that multiple people created the tableau within a short period of time. One possibility is that the people who built the boat also created the tableau. Another is that a group of people taking part in a funerary ceremony after the death of the Pharaoh etched the images onto the building walls. The team lead by Josef Wegner, of the University of Pennsylvania plans to carry out excavations in the future hoping to solve the various mysteries of the buildings in Abydos.

(after Live Science, International Business Times & Mirror)

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