Today's episode is Episode 007 - Old Kingdom Egypt Expands Its Reach. In this episode we'll focus on the scope of Egypt's maritime reach during the Old Kingdom's fifth and sixth dynasties. Topics include the development and refinement of maritime technology like the sail and the hogging truss, the discovery of an ancient harbor at Wadi el-Jarf, and the mysterious land of Punt as it relates to the story of Harkhuf, the boy pharaoh Pepi II, and a pygmy from Nubia.
A depiction of Egyptian men constructing a papyrus boat. From the tomb of Ptah-Hotep, Saqqara, 5th dynasty.
Hippo hunters, spears poised while afloat a papyrus boat, taken from the tomb of Ti at Saqqara.
Fishermen on a papyrus boat, from the Saqqara tomb of Kagemni, the royal vizier of 6th Dynasty pharaoh Teti.
The depiction of a boat’s construction, taken from the fifth dynasty tomb of Ti at Saqqara.
Workmen fashioning ship timbers, taken from the fifth dynasty tomb of Ti at Saqqara.
A closeup of the ship construction scene, taken from the fifth dynasty tomb of Ti at Saqqara.
An example of the use of a bipod mast with rigging and sail, taken from the fifth dynasty tomb of Nefer at Saqqara.
An above-ground view of the harbor galleries discovered at Wadi el-Jarf.
A view into one of the hewn out galleries at Wadi el-Jarf.
An example of the anchors found on the sea floor adjacent to the Wadi el-Jarf site.
The location of Wadi el-Jarf relative to the Suez Gulf.
Examples of the maritime-related artifacts discovered inside the Wadi el-Jarf galleries.
A close-up of one returning ship from Sahure’s pyramid at Abusir. Important details include: the bowing, Syro-Canaanite prisoners, the folded bipod mast, and the hogging truss.
A line drawing representation of a returning ship from Sahure’s pyramid at Abusir.
An illustration showing the size and shape of a hogging truss connected to the girdles.
A returning ship on the causeway of Unas’ pyramid at Saqqara. Notice the Syro-Canaanite prisoners, the hogging truss, and the tripod mast.
The entrance to Harkhuf’s tomb at Aswan, Qubbet el Hawa, where the story about his expeditions and the text of Pepi II’s letter are inscribed.
The hieroglyphic inscription of Pepi II’s letter to Harkhuf, expressing his impatience to receive his pygmy captive and mentioning the treasure of Punt.
The cartouche of Djedkara Isesi as mentioned in Pepi II’s letter to Harkhuf.
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Lorenzi, Rosella, Most Ancient Port, Hieroglyphic Papyri Found, Discovery News (12 Apr. 2013). [link]
McGrail, Seán, Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times (2009).
Navine el-Aref, Egypt's King Khufu's harbour in Suez discovered, Ahram Online (11 Apr. 2013). [link]