Cairo, July 20 : A group of archaeologists will excavate hundreds of fragments of a 4,500-year-old ancient Egyptian wooden boat in a bid to reassemble the craft, Egyptologists have announced.
The ancient Egyptian wooden boat has been entombed in an underground chamber next to Giza's Great Pyramid.
The 4,500-year-old vessel is the sister ship of a similar boat removed in pieces from another pit in 1954 and painstakingly reconstructed.
Experts believe the boats were meant to ferry the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid in the afterlife.
Starting Saturday (July 19), tourists were allowed to view images of the inside of the second boat pit from a camera inserted through a hole in the chamber's limestone ceiling.
The video image, transmitted onto a small TV monitor at the site, showed layers of crisscrossing beams and planks on the floor of the dark pit.
"You can smell the past," Middle East Online quoted Zahi Hawass, director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, as saying.
Experts will begin removing around 600 pieces of timber in November, said professor Sakuji Yoshimura of Japan's Waseda University, who is helping lead the restoration effort with the antiquities council.
The discovery of the boat pits more than 50 years ago by workmen clearing a large mound of wind-blown debris from the south side of the Great Pyramid is considered one of the most significant finds on the plateau.
They are the oldest vessels to have survived from antiquity.
The unexcavated boat is made from Lebanese cedar and Egyptian acacia trees.
John Darnell, an Egyptologist at Yale University, said new research into the second boat could fill in some blanks about the significance of the vessels and help determine whether they ever actually plied Nile River waterways or were of purely spiritual import.