Ancient boat unearthed near pyramid

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Archaeologists have begun excavating a 4,500-year-old wooden boat found next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of Egypt's main tourist attractions, Egypt's top antiquities official said Thursday.

The boat is one of two buried next to the pharaoh Khufu in what appeared to be a religious custom to carry him in the afterlife. Khufu, also known as Cheops, is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Sakuji Yoshimura, a Waseda University professor who is leading the restoration project with Egypt's Antiquities Council, said scientists discovered that the second ship is inscribed with Khufu's name.

Khufu founded the Fourth Dynasty around 2680 B.C. and ruled Egypt for 23 years.

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass called the excavation "one of the most important archaeological and conservation projects in the world."

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