Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's off topic but I know that Andie is probably not in a position to update Egyptology News and it's a big story, so I have decided to cover it.

Archaeologists from the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology working at the pyramid field of Abu Rawash have discovered the funeral boat which they believe to be that of King Den of the First Dynasty.  The reasons for the attribution are not stated in the Ahram article (photo) but might perhaps be inferred.  IFAO have been working near the ruined Fourth Dynasty pyramid assumed to be that of Djedefre.  In the area they have reportedly also come across references to King Den.  My guess is that they are putting together these references to King Den with the discovery of what is clearly a very early funeral boat and making an identification.  It is certainly highly plausible but the more I study the pyramid fields the more I realise that identification is often not rock solid.  For instance the same Ahram article reports that they have also found references to King Aha.

The identification is somewhat unimportant.  The boat is in very good condition for its age.  According to the Ahram report that the boat is 6m high and 150m wide, formed of 11 timber planks.  Other reports give this as 6m long by 1.5m wide and these dimensions seem to be consistent with the photographs.  It is has been taken to the new national museum for conservation.

The big question for me then is this: where are the funeral boats from the Third Dynasty?  If funeral boats were a standard practice in the First Dynasty (Aha, Den) and in the Fourth (Khufu), where are the boats from the intervening kings?  It reinforces the view that much remains to be discovered about the burial practices of the Third Dynasty.  (I am presently reading about Third Dynastic burials which is why the topic comes to mind so readily.)

PS thanks to Dennis for prompting me to cover this


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