Today’s Google Doodle marks the 65th anniversary of the Khufu ship’s discovery.
On this day in 1954, one of the world’s oldest and biggest boats was found buried near Egypt’s biggest pyramid, in Giza.
It is said to have survived for more than 4,600 years and is believed to have been built for Khufu, the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. He is also entombed within the pyramid.
The ship is currently protected in the Giza Solar boat museum, which is only a few meters from where it was found 65 years prior.
The discovery happened when archaeologist Kamal el Mallakh unearthed a row of limestone blocks that were covering a rectangular pit.
Inside an airtight enclosure, piles of cedar planks were found, alongside ropes and matting that were needed to rebuild the vessel. More than 1,200 pieces were painstakingly reassembled, a process that was overseen by Haj Ahmed Youssef, a restorer from the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, who studied Ancient Egyptian boat-making before he embarked on the project. He also visited Nile shipyards before reconstruction began.
It took over 10 years to completely reestablish the vessel, which is 44.6 meters long and six meters wide, without utilizing any nails.
Its unique use remains a mystery and a discussion among scholars. Some trust it was utilized to ferry the pharoah’s body to his last resting place, while others think it was a “solar barge” placed there in order to transport Khufu’s soul to heaven, similar to the Atet, the barge of the Egyptian sun god Ra.
Whatever it was used for, its discovery remains as significant now as it did the day it was discovered, and is one of the best-preserved vessels from antiquity.
Today’s Google Doodle of the Khufu Ship is being shown across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as parts of Europe, in Russia, and Australia and New Zealand.