Site report: Sarens moves through pyramid path

By Niamh Marriott12 April 2022

Sarens doubled up 12 axles lines of SPMT to lift and move an ancient solar boat through the Egyptian pyramids to its new location in the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Niamh Marriott reports.

The new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo aims to host the largest ever collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world. Planning to open in November 2022, the museum will display significant historical objects, including a statue of Ramses II, Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, including the famous golden funerary mask, and Khufu’s wooden solar boat, built more than 4,600 years ago and unearthed from the sands near the pyramids of Giza.

The 10 km journey was meticulously planned, including radar surveys of the ground to ensure it could carry the full weight of the steel cage, ancient boat and double lines of SPMT (Photo: Sarens)

The archaeologically significant and relatively fragile boat had to be transported more than 10 km from the old Khufu Boat Museum for installation in the new museum.

Specialist international transport and lifting contractor Sarens was tasked with the move and installation by construction contractor Besix-Orascom Joint Venture (BOJV).

Planning phase

During planning it became clear the boat had to be precisely positioned horizontally during the entire operation, as it is so fragile.

Equipment Sarens deployed included:

  • 12 axle-lines SPMT type K24 Kamag,
  • 12 axle-lines SPMT type K25 Scheuerle Kamag,
  • An 800 tonne capacity Demag CC 4800 lattice boom crawler crane in SSL/LSL configuration with 90 metre boom and 300 tonne superlift.

“It took more than eight months of studying and planning to successfully execute this most important, challenging and unique engineering and archaeological projects,” said a spokesperson.

“After the approval of the permanent committee of the Supreme council of antiquities in accordance with antiquities protection law, preparation for the transportation of the boat began.

“Archaeological and engineering committees, in collaboration with local and international scientific institutions, prepared the boat for its final departure. Protecting it and not exposing it to any risk during the transportation process was a top priority.”

Protective steel

Two lines of SPMT were placed on top of each other to allow the boat easy transfer from its original position (Photo: Sarens)

A steel cage was designed and built to house and protect the boat for the journey. The boat is 42 metres long and weighs 20 tonnes. Combined with the cage, the overall weight was well over 100 tonnes.

Sarens built a 52 metre long and 5.6 metre high steel bridge to allow the SPMT to drive in and park under the boat.

Next, 12 axle lines of K24 SPMT lifted the boat from its support, drove it carefully outside through a narrow opening with 200 mm space on each side, and parked it on top of another 12 axle-lines of K25 SPMT to help ensure smooth movement of the load on slopes.

Commenting on the SPMT, the spokesperson said it had “an outstanding ability to overcome any obstacles that may occur along the route and the ability of manoeuvring curves and spins as well as absorbing any vibration.”

Pyramid path

A Demag CC 4800 lattice crawler crane lifted the boat into place (Photo: Sarens)

The boat had to be transported through the pyramids with slopes up to 3 degrees along the way.

Prior to the move, a radar survey was conducted of the rocky ground under the museum, and on the passageways and roads on the Eastern side, to ensure their ability to withstand the load.

Restorers from the conservation centre of the grand Egyptian museum and the Supreme council of antiquities made a laser scan survey of the boat for documentation before carefully packing it for transport.

The morning after the move, the Demag CC 4800 lifted the boat from the SPMT and installed it in the new section of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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