Archaeologists Discover World's Oldest Harbor in Egypt

Archaeologists have uncovered a vast harbor complex, which is believed to be the oldest harbor ever found, that helped to extend the domain of Egyptian pharaoh Khufu by shipping copper and other minerals from Egypt to the rest of the Mediterranean world.

The harbor is believed to be about 4,500 years old. Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and director of the archaeological mission, says that the harbor "predates by more than 1,000 years any other port structure known in the world."

The harbor was constructed along the shores of the Red Sea in the Wadi al-Jarf region about 112 miles south of Suez. It's discovery was made by a French-Egyptian group from the French Institute for Archaeological Studies.

The researchers also discovered, in addition to the dock structures, several anchors that had been carved of stone, storage jars, fragments of rope, and pieces of pottery. They also unearthed some exceptionally well-preserved papyrus documents, which Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities, says is "the oldest papyri ever found in Egypt."

The 40 papyri details the daily lives of Egyptians who lived under King Khufu's 27th year of reign. One of the most interesting things found is the diary of a port official who went by the name Merrer and helped to lead the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, where Khufu was to be entombed after death.

Tallet said:

"He mainly reported about his many trips to the Tura limestone quarry to fetch block for the building of the pyramid. This diary provides for the first time an insight on this matter."

Some of the other papyri describe the bureaucracy created by Pharaoh Khufu and its control over the food distributed to port workers.