The Solar Boat Museum in Egypt



The ancient Egyptians used to bury the solar boat near the tomb of their pharaoh because they believed that their ruler would need a way to move to the afterlife. Learn more about the solar boat Museum with Cairo Top Tours.


Sail to the Sun at the Cheops Boat Museum

Egypt is a land brimming with ancient temples, ruins, tombs, and historical sites dating back to the Egyptian era. All of this serves as a testament to this civilization's monumental accomplishments and foresight. The Khufu Ship Museum, also known as the Solar Boat Museum, is a little-known gem in Egyptian archaeology. The Khufu Ship Museum not only houses the iconic Khufu ship, but it also has a unique position next to the Pyramid of Khufu, which is the largest of the three Pyramids of Giza in terms of scale. Although it is a separate museum with a small admission fee, it is well worth a visit due to its sheer scale, history, and rebuilding tale. 

Solar Boats In Ancient Egypt 

Ancient Egyptians used cedarwood to build their solar vessels, which were huge ships. During Pharaonic times, they were used in religious ceremonies. Historians and archaeologists have been debating the exact historical name and intent of these boats for years. These boats, on the other hand, were most likely designed for the King's and possibly some of his royal family's funerary rituals.

When King Cheops died and his body was mummified, the priests placed his body in this solar boat to travel to Heliopolis and other cities before landing in his royal necropolis in Giza. The Solar Boat Museum was built around 1985 to house the boat that was placed there when King Cheops passed away and his body was mummified. The priests then dismantled the solar boat into smaller parts, which they buried near the pyramids and dubbed the Boat of Cheops.

Location of the Khufu Ship Museum

The Museum is located on the Giza Plateau, specifically near the Khufu Pyramid, and is just a 30-minute drive from Cairo's city center. The Khufu Ship Museum is located within the entrance to Giza's Three Pyramids, with guides available to accompany visitors to the entrance and within the pyramids if required. The Khufu Ship Museum has a small gallery of displayed objects, including the reassembled Khufu Ship, a maquette Khufu Solar ship, and photographs documenting the reassembling and discovery of the Khufu ship. The Museum's three-story structure and construction methods enable visitors to get a full view of Khufu's solar ship from every perspective.

Relocation of the Solar Boat

The Egyptian Antiquities Association has agreed to carry out a project to protect and conserve the solar boat museum in Giza over the last few years.

According to Zahi Hawas, the president of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, all museums around the world have small narrow windows to prevent harmful sun rays from entering. The Solar Boat Museum, on the other hand, is unique in that it only has one display, the boat, and the museum consists of a panoramic view of the boat that is made up of large glass panels, exposing the boat to a variety of factors that might damage it.

This is why Egyptian authorities insisted on relocating the solar boat from its original position within its museum near the Giza Pyramids to the current Egyptian Museum of Antiquities near Al Remaya Square in Giza. With the assistance of UNESCO, this phase was completed. According to Zahi Hawas, the solar boat's relocation was motivated by the fact that it was subjected to a variety of pollutants. This is in addition to the fact that the solar boat's value and significance would grow if it were to be included in the New Grand Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. The solar boat would have a huge hall constructed especially for it in the New Grand Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, according to Hawas. This situation would undoubtedly highlight the significance of the solar sail, which is considered one of the few surviving examples of ancient Egyptian architecture. 

How Were Solar Boats Discovered?

The discovery of the Khufu Ship in 1954 was an accidental discovery, which could come as a surprise. The Khufu ship, one of two rediscovered by Kamal El-Mallakh, is the world's oldest intact ship, dating from the 4th Dynasty around 2500 BC and constructed for King Pharaoh Khufu. During the cleaning of the Great Pyramids, the solar ship was discovered in the midst of archaeological excavations in the Giza region. After excavating to the very bottom of a massive limestone wall, 42 pieces of rock were found. The Khufu Solar Boat was discovered, but it was broken into thousands of pieces.

It was discovered in five pits near the Great Pyramid of Khufu and painstakingly reassembled from 1200 pieces of cedar wood by chief Egyptian restorer Ahmed Youssef Moustafa, who spent 14 years gathering the expertise required to restore the boat to its former glory. Traveling to boatyards in Old Cairo, El Maadi, and Alexandria and watching shipbuilders at work, as well as examining ancient inscriptions on tomb walls and the many smaller model ships in the tomb. The ship is thought to have been made out of over a thousand pieces of wood, kept together by sycamore pegs and half-grass ropes.

The purpose of the Khufu Ship

Throughout ancient Egypt's history, ships similar to the Khufu ship were used for a variety of purposes, one of which was carrying construction materials up and down the Nile. The Khufu ship's exact role is uncertain, but it is classified as a "Solar Barge" in general. Traditionally, such vessels were used for unethical behavior. As they ascended the resurrected king to the Falcon-headed sun god Ra, the ancient Egyptians believed. The Khufu ship is thought to have been used by the late Gret king as a funerary barge to carry his embalmed body from Memphis to his final resting place in Giza. Another hypothesis is that Khufu used it as a personal pilgrimage ship for the Great Pharaoh. The fact that the ship shows signs of having been in contact with or used in water lends credence to both hypotheses.