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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Boston University archeologist’s digs uncover clues to Egyptian mariners - The Boston Globe

Boston University archeologist’s digs uncover clues to Egyptian mariners - The Boston Globe
"BU archeologist unearths clues about ancient Egypt’s sea trade

The archeological digs at Egypt’s Wadi Gawasis have yielded neither mummies nor grand monuments.

But Boston University archeologist Kathryn Bard and her colleagues are uncovering the oldest remnants of seagoing ships and other relics linked to exotic trade with a mysterious Red Sea realm called Punt.

Starting in the middle of the last decade, the Bard-Fattovich team grabbed the attention of nautical archeologists with the unearthing of ship timbers, limestone anchors, steering oars, and hanks of marine rope. The precisely beveled deck beams, hull planks, and copper fittings belong to the oldest deep sea vessels ever found, dating back at least 3,800 years.

The craft appear to have been up to 70 feet long, powered by rowers and sail and capable of navigating deep seas.

“This is exciting stuff, important,’’ said Shelley Wachsmann, a top authority on Bronze Age ships at Texas A&M University’s Institute of Nautical Archaeology. He is not directly involved with Bard’s research.“She’s found the first fragments of an ancient Egyptian seagoing vessel - a ship that actually sailed in pharaonic times,’’ Wachsmann said."

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