Royal ship of Cheops, cros section, c 2500 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail of model. The ship on which this model is based was built for ceremonial purposes and was discovered in a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid of King Cheops in 1954. It had been carefully dismantled and its parts marked with hieratic signs and tied in bundles for reasembly. It is the oldest, largest and best preserved of early Egyptian ships, and indicates ship building of considerable sophistication. In addition to a highly developed structure, it also seems to have been constructed using timber probably imported from Lebanon.