Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

BU archaeologist discovers evidence of ancient Egyptian shipping

BU Today has an update here on the work of Professor Kathryn Bard in Egypt. This new article reports on a discovery first made by Bard five years ago. A video of some of the artifacts soon to go on display in the Egyptian Museum is included.

The team discovered seven caves at Wadi Gawasis containing relics dating back 4,000 years. The first pieces ever recovered from Egyptian seagoing vessels, they offer a tantalizing glimpse into an elaborate network of Red Sea trade.

Best known for its exports of gold, incense, ebony, elephant ivory, and exotic animals, the exact location of the port city Punt remains a mystery; Bard believes it was in present-day eastern Sudan. Inscriptions discovered more than a century ago indicate that Egyptian pharaohs mounted naval expeditions to Punt as far back as the Old Kingdom (2686 –2125 B.C.), and Bard’s findings give credibility to the legend in the form of stelae, limestone slabs installed in niches outside of the second cave.

King Solomon of Israel sought to make use of the Red Sea for shipping, but his plan does not appear to have been successful.

King Solomon also built a fleet of ships in Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, sailors who knew the sea, along with the servants of Solomon. They went to Ophir and took four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon. (1 Kings 9:26-28 NAU)

Here is a photo I made at Eilat in the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba).

Fish and coral in the Red Sea at Eilat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fish and coral in the Red Sea at Eilat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joseph Lauer