Ship Name

Dahshur Boat (1850 BC)






Ancient/Medieval (to 1350)

Year Launched

1850 B.C.

Home Waters

Nile River



Length (feet)


Beam (feet)


Draft (feet)


Primary Propulsion

Human energy

Propulsion Specifications

Intended to be towed





Historical Note

Dahshur Boat 1850 BC In 1893, French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan found six boats buried near the tomb of the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Sesostris III (1878-1842 BCE) at Dahshur, southwest of Cairo. Morgan surmised that these were part of the burial equipment of Sesostris and intended for the pharaoh's journey in the afterlife, as was the Cheops ship of seven centuries before. The oldest ships known until the discovery of the Cheops ship, two of the boats are exhibited in Cairo, a third is at the Field Museum in Chicago, and a fourth, whose excavation was not formally recorded, was purchased by Andrew Carnegie for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Their measurements and construction are similar. The Field boat measures 9.8 meters long by 2.5 meters broad by 1.2 meters deep (32.1 by 8.2 by 3.9 feet); those in the Cairo Museum are 10.2 by 2.2 by 0.9 meters (33.5 by 7.2 by 3 feet), and 9.9 by 2.3 by 0.7 meters (32.5 by 7.5 by 2.3 feet). There are three strakes topped by a bulwark lashed to the sheer strake on either side of the central plank; the planks are fastened along their long edges by mortise-and-tenon joints. There are no ribs, but all the boats had some decking. In some cases there are peg holes in deck plank ends, but most pieces were simply laid onto the dadoed deck edges; slender stanchions supported the beams in all boats. All the boats had rudder posts topped by falcon heads a sign of royalty to support the elaborately painted quarter rudders used to steer the boat. The boats probably were fitted with a baldachin under which a coffin would lie, and decorative elongated bow and stern pieces were probably fitted to give the vessels a papyriform shape, so called for their resemblance to papyrus rafts. Like the Cheops ship, these boats were intended to be towed. The similarity of the design and function of the Sesostris and Cheops boats attests to the continuity of the pharaonic tradition over more than seven centuries. Ward, Sacred and Secular.

Image Source

Institute of Maritime Research

Related Images

external image dahshurboat.jpg
Egyptian funerary vessel, dated by its being part of a royal burial site as 1850 BC
Image ID: 1554

Record ID: 38