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Google Doodle honors discovery of Egyptian Khufu Ship on its 65th anniversary

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65 years ago, one of the oldest boats to date was found buried deep near the Great Pyramid of Giza. In May 1954, on the south side of the oldest pyramid also known as Khufu, a truly unique window into the past was opened on Ancient Egypt; the discovery of the iconic Khufu Ship.

The massive wooden vessel of unknown purpose was brought to the surface by archaeologist Kamal el-Mallakh, when he dug through several limestone blocks and uncovered an airtight, rectangular pit. Inside the pit was the disassembled boat, complete with ropes, wooden planks and matting, waiting to be reassembled.

The mysterious Pharaonic jigsaw puzzle was reconstructed and fully restored a decade later by Haj Ahmed Youssef, a restorer from the Egyptian Department of Antiquities. Comprised of about 1,200 pieces and measuring an impressive 44 meters long and 6 meters wide, it is believed to have survived for more than 4,600 years. It’s also widely agreed in the scientific community that it was originally built for Khufu ((or Cheops), the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, who is entombed inside the very same pyramid. Opinions vary about its real purpose, with some saying that the ship was built to carry Khufu’s body to the afterlife or his final resting place. Others believe that the ship’s asymmetrical nature was designed to work as a crane for lifting great bocks of stone, possibly becoming the key that unlocks one of the greatest mysteries of all time; how the Pyramids of Giza were built.

Google’s Doodle of choice for May 26th 2019 was a tribute to this historic discovery, featuring a papyrus-based design that depicts the wooden boat from two different angles, the three pyramids and the year of discovery. The Google logo was partially portaged in hieroglyphics, delivering an overall eye-catching and intriguing homage to the beautifully preserved historic ship. The Google Doodle saw great reach in North African countries, Russia, the UK and Australia.

In Egypt, it was shared by the Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat on her official Twitter account. This was not the first time that Google celebrated noteworthy Egyptian events or public figures through its fun feature. In the recent past, famous Doodles included birthday celebrations for Umm Kulthum, Omar Sharif, Dalida, Faten Hammama and Fouad El Mohandes.

Egypt’s Pyramid of Khufu is the largest of three pyramids that together represent the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only intact one. It has harbored many secrets in the past and the Khufu Ship is the most recent addition, providing an excellent opportunity for research and possible new insight into the Pharaonic era. Now it has connected with the digital age, where titans like Google reign and aim to shed light on the mysteries of yesterday, bringing the wonders of Ancient Egypt to the world through a variation of perhaps the digital world’s most famous logo today.