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New discovery: Egypt's oldest harbor, collection of papyrus uncovered

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in recent years, researchers have uncovered what is thought to be the most ancient harbor ever found in Egypt, along with the country's oldest collection of papyrus documents.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dating back to the days of the Pharaoh Khufu, or Cheops in the Fourth Dynasty, the harbor dates back 4,500 years. The Great Pyramid of Giza serves as the tomb of Khufu, who died around 2566 B.C.

The harbor was built on the Red Sea shore in the Wadi al-Jarf area, 112 miles south of Suez. The harbor was discovered by a French-Egyptian mission from the French Institute for Archaeological Studies.

The site "predates by more than 1,000 years any other port structure known in the world," according to the mission's director, Pierre Tallet of the University of Paris-Sorbonne.

Egyptian authorities said the archaeologists found a variety of docks, as well as a collection of carved stone anchors.

Considered one of the most important commercial ports of ancient Egypt, the recently discovered harbor is where trips to export copper and other minerals from the Sinai Peninsula were launched.

In addition, the team also unearthed a collection of 40 papyri that detailed the daily lives of ancient Egyptians during the 27th year of Khufu's reign. "These are the oldest papyri ever found in Egypt," Egypt's antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim says. Among the subjects reportedly covered were the arrangements for getting bread and beer to the workers heading out from the port.

One papyrus is said to detail the daily activities of an official named Merrer, who was involved in building the Great Pyramid.

"He mainly reported about his many trips to the Turah limestone quarry to fetch block for the building of the pyramid," Tallet says. "Although we will not learn anything new about the construction of the Cheops monument, this diary provides for the first time an insight on this matter."

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