- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008

— A unique way of viewing a wooden boat entombed 4,500 years ago next to Giza’s Great Pyramid, where exposure to the atmosphere threatened its destruction, has been revealed by Egyptian archaeologists.

The boat, a sister ship to another discovered in 1954 that has since been excavated painstakingly, can be seen by the public, thanks to a remotely controlled Japanese camera inserted through thick slabs of stone.

“This is the first time that this technology … is used to look at buried antiquities,” said Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, while speaking to journalists on Saturday.

“This will allow us to assess their condition and look at the possibility of restoring them and taking them somewhere else,” he said at the site, just yards from the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

A Japanese team from Waseda University began work in 1992 after it was discovered that insects had managed to enter the vulnerable site, where two such boats were discovered in 1954.

The insects have been removed, but water is leaking from the nearby museum, which houses the first “solar” boat, designed to take pharaohs to the afterlife.

“I can tell you already that [the water] has affected a small part of the wood; hence the necessity to quickly finish the study and restore the wood,” the university’s Sakuji Yoshimura told Agence France-Presse.

The Japanese government has pledged $10 million for the archaeological study and restoration, after which both boats will be taken to a new museum being built near the pyramids.

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