CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was gifted a 4,000 year-old ancient Egyptian funerary barge from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow earlier this month, presidency spokesperson Ehab Badawy was quoted as saying by Youm7 Tuesday.
Putin gave the gift to Sisi in person during a lunch banquet on Wednesday, Badawy said and that he latter instructed to place the ancient barge in the Abdeen Presidential Palace Museum in Cairo.
Ancient Egyptians, who believed in resurrection, used boats to carry the mummy of the Pharaoh through the journey in the afterlife, former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Abdel Halem Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Wednesday.
Ancient Egyptian barges were never intended to be put in the water but were believed to carry the deceased to their final resting places in the afterlife, Nour el-Din said.
“According to ancient Egyptian mythology, the soul of the diseased would accompany the sun, represented in the image of Sun-God Re, on its boat journey from life to the afterlife (eternity),” Nour el-Din said. A funerary boat, or at least a model of a boat, was therefore a common feature in every ancient Egyptian tomb.
“The gifted barge, which is made of bundles of tightly packed reeds and coated with plaster, measures 48.5 cm long, 17.5 cm wide, and 12.2 cm high,” head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities department at the Antiquities Ministry Aly al-Asfar told The Cairo Post Wednesday.
The barge features a wooden shrine to house the image of God Re along with eleven afterlife gods with rowers placed at the stern and the bow, Asfar said.
Russia provides Egypt’s tourism industry with over 40 percent of European tourists, according to the Tourism Ministry’s report issued in June 2014.
Sisi met with Putin in Moscow Thursday and discussed bilateral cooperation as well as the urgent issues such as the Gaza crisis and the situation in Iraq and Libya.
In a press conference that followed the meeting, Sisi announced Egypt offered Russia the opportunity to establish an industrial zone as part of the Suez Canal Axis Development project, according to The Cairo Post.