Archaeology

Worlds Oldest Port and Ancient Papyri Found South of Suez



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Discovered along the coast of the Red Sea, archaeologists have found what they believe is the world’s oldest port. According to the UK’s “Daily Mail” newspaper, this port is “believed to date back 4,500 years.” This timeline coincides with the reign of Pharaoh Khufu during the Fourth Dynasty. Also known by the name Cheops, Khufu reigned from 2575 BC to 2465 BC and was most renowned for constructing the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Ancient port and its use

According to the “Huffington Post,” the ancient wharf is located at the site of Wadi al-Jarf, some 100 miles south of Suez. During its heyday, the port was a dynamic place of business for the Egyptians, a hub of transportation for goods sailing out from Egypt to other lands. Among the materials transported from this ancient port site were “copper, turquoise and other minerals, “ reports the “Huffington Post.” Mining operations for these materials were conducted in the southern region of the  Sinai Peninsula.

Along with the discovery of the port has been research into several area structures, including some “30 galleries, measuring on average 65 feet long, 10 feet wide and 7 feet wide.” These structures were initially reported by JG Wilkinson in 1832. Ancient stone anchors have also been uncovered.

Importance of the port

According to Egyptologist Pierre Tallet, a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris and leader of the current archaeological expedition, the harbor predates any other known wharf by more than 1,000 years. The expedition unearthing this discovery was jointly sponsored by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Years earlier, a team of French scientists had been exploring the area (during the 1950s). Their research, unfortunately, was cut short by the Suez Crisis of 1956. Egyptian troops occupied the area, and the French scientists were driven out. It was not until 2011 that Tallet was allowed to restart the investigation of this area again.

Discovery of ancient papyri

In addition to the important unearthing of the port has been the discovery of the oldest papyri in Egypt, according to the Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim. These valuable records detail information about the daily lives of Egyptians during the reign of Khufu.

Among some of the details provided in the papyri are notations about “provisions of bread and beer for workers heading out from the port,” according to the “Daily Mail.” Other papyri speak of construction projects, including details about the quarrying of stone for the Great Pyramid at Giza, which was designed to entomb Khufu after his death.

Reported in the “Daily Mail,” Egyptian Minister Ibrahim noted that the papyri speak of an Egyptian official named Merrer, who “mainly reported about his many trips to the Turah limestone quarry to fetch block for the building of the pyramid. Although we will not learn anything new about the construction of the Cheops monument, this diary provides for the first time an insight” into this aspect of its creation.

These two finds alone make this an important archaeological site for the people of Egypt and the world.

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