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.