Archaeologists unearth world’s oldest harbour AND oldest Egyptian papyri dating back 4,600 years

Archaeologists unearth world’s oldest harbour AND oldest Egyptian papyri dating back 4,600 years


Archaeologists in Egypt have scored a double hit by unearthing both the world’s most ancient harbour and the oldest Egyptian hieroglyphic papyri, at a site dating to the 3rd millennium BC.

Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement today:

“The port of Wadi el-Jarf, located on the Red Sea 180 kilometres south of Suez, dates to around 2,600 BC and the reign of King Khufu.  It is considered one of the most important ancient Egyptian ports because it was used to transport copper and other minerals from the Sinai peninsula.  The papyri, which provide detailed accounts of daily life and traditions at the time of the Old Kingdom, are considered the oldest ever found in Egypt.  The papyri are currently being studied by experts at the Suez Museum.”

The collection of 40 papyri include monthly reports on the number of labourers working in the harbour, as well the nature of life that ancient Egyptians once lived.

The team of French and Egyptian archaeologists working on the dig also discovered stone anchors at Wadi el-Jarf that were marked with ropes used to tie the ships inside the port.  Stone tools used for cutting ropes and remains of wood and rope were also discovered at the site, as well as the remains of houses used by the ancient port workers, and 30 caves blocked by stones bearing the red ink inscription of the pharaoh Khufu.  Khufu is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


1 Comment

  1. Romania There are some things that need to be asked on the port site of Wadi Jarf.
    1) Sir Wilkinson who found this site in 1823 (Royal Geographical Society, 1832, pp 33-34) said the jars found in the 30 galleries were used for the ashes of cremated remains! And he called the galleries “catacombs”, why did they not mention of this? (Wilkinson thought the Greeks, who sometimes cremated, did this but there were no ancient Greek or Roman town within 60 miles of this site.)
    2) Sir Wilkinson was a respect British archeologist and he certainly would have known what “ashes” were which he said were inside the jars. However they said the jars were for “water and food” for the port, but did they find any water or food in these jars, why did they not gave evidence for this? And why store this “5 kilometers” away from the port?
    3) There was no explanation for why “large blocks” were used to seal the entrances to these caves when they were supposed to be for “temporary” storage?
    4) They said the date from the jars was from the 4th Dynasty, but again they gave no evidence for this, why?
    5) They gave no date for the wood and cloth found at the site, why not? They could have used Carbon 14 for these, this should have been the easiest and most accurate.
    Those who have done this work at Wadi Jarf may be right about some of their findings, but it leaves some question marks as to why they do not address the findings of Sir Wilkinson, or do what is normal (C14 testing) of such discoveries.
    Garry Matheny

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