World’s Oldest Harbor Uncovered in Red Sea

Egypt (Sputnik) – Archaeologists have uncovered what they say is the world’s oldest harbor in the Red Sea of the Egyptian coast. The shipping hub was built by King Cheops 4,600 years ago, experts think.

Archaeologists from the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo and the Sorbonne University discovered the oldest known harbor at Wadi el-Jarf.

The harbor is believed to have been used by King Cheops for importing materials to build his Great Pyramid of Giza. The harbor is located in the foothills of the desert mountains and was used for importing lighter copper and minerals, which help Egypt make the tools it would need to build the pyramid.

Under the waves at Wadi el-Jarf, a monumental 200-meter long L-shaped pier built of large limestone blocks was found. Diving archaeologists also found 22 limestone ship anchors in situ in the mooring area with several large storage jars lying next to the anchors, according to Haaretz.

Thousands of round storage jars were discovered throughout the site together with pottery kilns.

The archaeologists also found remains of stone structures of 30 meters in length and 8 to 12 meters in width. Professor Pierre Tallet of Sorbonne, head of the excavations, suggested they were administrative centers for the port’s operations, and were also used to store material and food for the miners working in Sinai, Haaretz reports.

Between those structures, 99 stone anchors were found, some with ropes still attached. Some anchors had inscriptions in red ink with the name of the boat they belonged to.

About four miles from the shore, galleries hewn from the rock were found. They were filled with jars inscribed with destinations and bearing the name of the team they belonged to.

The excavators suppose the galleries were used as a store for boat parts because hundreds of wooden pieces, fragments of ore and ropes were found inside. Tallet believes the galleries served for reassembling ship kits, which were carried to the Red Sea over the desert.

According to recent calculations, building the pyramid engaged 5,000 men. In contrast to a generally accepted view that Cheops was a cruel ruler and a harsh taskmaster, Tallet said, “They were not slaves, but specialists who were employed all the year long by the royal administration — and, from the records that we have on the papyrus, they were rather privileged.”

Earlier this year, the oldest papyrus archive was found in Egypt, according to the Egyptian Institute of Antiquities.

This report prepared by Sputnik.