World's oldest ship timbers found in Egypt

March 6, 2006

The world's oldest remains of a seafaring ship have been found in caves at the edge of the Egyptian desert.

The discovery suggests ancient Egyptians sailed nearly 1,000 miles on rough waters to get treasures from a place they called God's Land, or Punt.

Florida State University anthropology Professor Cheryl Ward says wooden planks found in the manmade caves are about 4,000 years old -- making them the world's most ancient ship timbers.

Shipworms that had tunneled into the planks indicated the ships had weathered a long voyage of a few months, likely to the fabled southern Red Sea trading center of Punt -- a place referenced in hieroglyphics on empty cargo boxes found in the caves, Ward said.

"The archaeological 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," she said. "It's a site that has kept its secrets for 40 centuries."

Ward will detail the discovery in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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