AZBW NEWS SERVICE — The oldest remains of
seafaring ships in the world have been found in manmade caves in the
Egyptian desert at the edge of the Red Sea.
University professor Cheryl Ward said she has determined that wooden
planks found in the caves are 4,000 years old — making them the
world’s most ancient ship timbers.
Shipworms that had tunneled into the planks indicated that the
ships had weathered a voyage of several months, likely to the fabled
southern Red Sea trading center of Punt — a place 1,000 miles to the
south — which is referenced in hieroglyphs on empty cargo boxes
found in the caves, Ward said.
The site is like a mothballed military base, and the artifacts
there tell a story of some of the best organized administrators the
world has ever seen, Ward said. "It’s a site that has kept its
secrets for 40 centuries."
Ward said she believes that the ships were built at a shipyard
along the Nile, disassembled and taken some 90 miles across the
desert to Wadi Gawasis, a lagoon on the Red Sea, where the parts
were assembled and the ships launched.
Along with the timbers and cargo boxes, Ward said they found
stone anchors, pieces of storage jars and more than 80 coils of rope
in the caves at the Wadi Gawasis site, which is a few miles south of
the city of Port Safaga.
Ward said that she and other researchers plan to return to Egypt
next year to continue the exploration of the Wadi Gawasis site.