Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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World's Oldest Planked Boats Volume 54 Number 3, May/June 2001
by Cheryl Ward

For nearly a decade, I wondered how the 14 Abydos ships had been held together. Work in 1991 provided some clues as to their preservation and basic shape, but told us little else about them. Mortise-and-tenon joining had been used in the construction of Khufu's 150-foot-long royal ship at Giza, but had the technique been used to build the Abydos boats some four centuries earlier? The question was answered when we excavated a small portion of one ship this past season. Lashing channels angled from the inside of each plank to just below the center of the plank edge, proved that the wooden planks had been "sewn" together. We found the remains of the woven straps used to join the planks within some of the channels as well as reed or grass bundles, which had been stuffed between the planks to seal the seams.

Cheryl Ward is at Florida State University, Tallahassee.

Abydos Intro

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America