The Nile was the source of all living things in Egypt. As Herodotus said in his book The Histories, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile." But the Nile was also the main highway in ancient Egypt, and boats were used on the Nile, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The boats that were used on the Nile were made of papyrus, and they were mainly used for fishing and hunting. The wooden boats were made of acacia wood, present in Egypt, and cedar wood imported from present-day Lebanon. Boat construction did not use nails, but the wooden planks were hooked on one another and lashed together by ropes. The wooden boats were used as cargo ships carrying the granite stones from Aswan and even heavy obelisks (each obelisk weighed approximately 600 tons).
There were also ritual and funerary model boats. In Tutankhamen's tomb there were 35 ritual boats. The most famous ritual boats are the two discovered in 1955 next to the great Pyramid at Giza. These funerary boats were elegant and graceful. Their exact purpose is still in dispute. Samples & models of several types of ancient Egyptian boats can be seen in our Boats exhibit.