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Oldest boats

Rock drawings from the Red Sea site of Wadi Hammamat, dated to around 4000 BC, show that ancient Egyptian boats were made from papyrus and reeds. Yet the world’s earliest known plank-built ship, dated to 2600 BC, was discovered next to the Great Pyramid in 1952. Made from cedar and sycamore wood, it was in almost perfect state of preservation, stored dismantled into 1,224 parts. Reconstructed, the vessel was 142 feet (43 metres) long and 19 feet (5,8 metres) wide, displacing some 40 tons.

The world’s oldest surviving boat is a simple 10 feet (3 metre) long dugout (logboat) dated to 7400 BC. It was discovered in Pesse, Holland in the Netherlands. In 2002, an almost similarly aged 6.5 ft (2 m) dugout was also unearthed at the Kuahuqiao ruins in Xiaoshan City, Zhejiang Province, China.

In 2300 BC, the Egyptians created the world’s first organized navy. Oar-powered ships were developed by the Sumerians in 3500 BC. Sails were first used by the Phoenicians around 2000 BC.

Solar boats

The famous solar boat of King Khufu (or Cheops), Egyptian pharaoh 2589–2566 BC, was discovered in 1954 in a boat pit near the Khufu pyramid – the Great Pyramid or Pyramid of Cheops – at Giza. It is 143 feet (43,6 m) long and 19.5 ft (5,9 m) wide. A second solar boat was discovered in 1984 and excavated in July 2011. There are a further 7 solar boat pits around the pyramid but the number of boats stored in them is not known yet.

These “sun boats” were not built for sailing in the usual sense; they were meant to transport the resurrected pharaoh along with the sun god Ra to the heavens.

Also see First circumnavigation

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