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埃及出土4000年前世界上最古老船只

2006-07-28 15:49

  The 4,000-year-old timbers were found alongside equally ancient cargo boxes, anchors, coils of rope and other naval materials just as old, at what archaeologists are calling a kind of ancient military administration site.

  The massive complex, made up of six human-made caves, is located at Wadi Gawasis, a small desert bluff on the Red Sea near the modern city of Port Safaga. According to Cheryl Ward, Florida State University archaeologist and part of the excavation team, the age of the finds is remarkable.

  “Older watercrafts, like dugout canoes, have been found throughout the world, but these are the oldest seagoing ships. More significantly, the next-oldest [ships ever discovered] in Egypt are 700 years younger,” Ward told LiveScience in a telephone interview.

  Just as crucial, however, is what the find says about ancient Egypt's naval capacity.

  According to Ward, it was widely thought that while ancient Egyptians often traveled along the Nile in smaller river boats, they did not have the technological ability to voyage long distances. Evidence at Wadi Gawasis seems to suggest that they were, in fact, prolific seagoers like later civilizations in Greece and Rome.

  Specifically, hieroglyphs inscribed on some of the cargo boxes indicate that many came from a single origin: the almost mythical city of Punt, whose exact location is still unknown but is thought to lie nearly 1,000 miles away in the southern reaches of the Red Sea.

  “Egyptians obviously went to sea frequently during this time, despite the fact that it was a huge undertaking. It required several thousand people trekking supplies across the desert,” Ward said.

  Before setting out to sea, Egyptians needed to transfer shipping materials, tools and goods from the main cities along the Nile to the shore, where they were assembled. The caves, measuring 60 to 70 feet (20 meters) on average, were likely created specifically for the task, Ward theorizes.

  “You can compare these caves to airport hangars more than anything else. If all the planes were flown out of the hangars, what would be left over? Parts, tools, bits and pieces; it's the same here,” she said. “We also found that the Egyptians had recycled a lot of ship parts and reused them architecturally within.”

  Timber remains at Wadi Gawasis demonstrate that when ships returned from several months at sea, they were disassembled in the caves, and the parts were inspected for wear and tear. Those pieces that were too badly worn by the burrowing of shipworms were discarded, while those in better shape were kept for later voyages.

  The mere presence of shipworm damage, accrued usually during voyages of at least several months, suggests that ancient Egyptians actually spent a lot of time at sea.

  “Egyptians even sailed to Lebanon to gather cedar for building their ships,” Ward said. “The resin in this wood was thought to prevent damage, but it obviously didn't work very well.”

  埃及出土4000年前世界上最古老船只(图)

  日前,一个考古小组在埃及红海岸边发掘出距今约有4000年历史的一些古埃及船遗物。据认为,迄今为止,这是考古学家发现的世界上最古老的航海船遗物。除船板外,这些遗物中还有古代船只上运送货物用的箱子、锚、成卷的绳索以及其他航海用具。考古学家们猜测,此处很可能是一处古老的军事管理地区。

  据美国全国广播公司网站3月6日报道,这些船只遗物是在位于埃及萨法加港附近一个名为瓦迪加瓦西斯的沙漠断崖上的6个人造洞穴中被发现的。考古小组的成员之一、美国佛罗里达州立大学的考古学家谢丽尔·沃德在接受美国“生活科学”网站电话采访时说,这些发掘物所属的年代非常了不起。类似独木舟等有些年头的船只在世界各地都曾找到过,但是这些是年代最久的海船。更重要的是,世界上第二古老的船只也是在埃及发现的,但其年代却比这些船只晚了700年。

  另外一个重要发现是,这些发掘出土的船只遗物显示出了古埃及人非凡的航海能力。沃德说:“考古界一直普遍认为,尽管古埃及人曾常常乘小舟顺着尼罗河旅行,但他们不具备长途航海的技术能力。然而,在瓦迪加瓦西斯发掘出的这些证据也许意味着,古埃及人实际上是一群杰出的航海家,就像在他们之后的希腊人和罗马人一样。”

  考古学家们发现,在一些货物盒子上刻有古老的象形文字和图画,而这些雕刻显示出它们大多来自同一个地方,那就是古埃及赋有传奇色彩的神秘城市——邦特。沃德说,很明显,这个时代的埃及人经常出海,尽管这是一项大任务,但现实的地理条件让他们不得不这样做,因为如果靠车辆运送物资穿越沙漠的话,那可需要几千人才能做到。

  沃德说:“这些洞穴更像是我们今天的飞机修理库。如果所有的飞机都离开修理库,会剩下什么呢?零件、工具和各种材料,这里也是一样的。”考古学家们发现,古埃及人会对船只部件进行循环利用。洞穴中的一些剩余木材显示,每当船只经过数月航行最终返回时,它们会被送往洞穴进行拆卸,工人们检查船只各个部位的破损和断裂情况。有些损坏太严重的部分就丢弃,而那些较为完好的部分则留作未来造船之用。

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