The illustrations in the southern wing of the 1. Portico show how the two
obelisks produced in Aswan were transported to Karnak on a double-ship
that was dragged by 3 x 9 tugs with probably 864 rowers. However,
the scenes in Deir el-Bahari probably show the arrival of the
obelisks at Karnak from view of the artist.
The technology of the double-ships
was described in detail by Wirsching (Wirsching, A., "Das Doppelschiff - die altägyptische Technologie zur Beförderung
schwerster Steinlasten", SAK, volume. 27, 1999). The technology
was in use since the 4. Dynasty. In the Old Kingdom loads up to 60 t were
carried this way, the obelisks carried in the New Kingdom weighed
many times the amount (the obelisk of Hatshepsut weighs approx. 323 t). Although this technology was probably
frequently used, there are - according to Wirsching - altogether only three
representations which show the transport of heavy loads by ship:
- a scene in the tomb of Senedjem-Ib, 5. Dynasty, shows the transport
of a sarcophagus,
- a scene on the causeway to the pyramid of Unas in Saqqara shows
several ships which carry
each two columns;
- and the aforementioned scene at Deir el-Bahari.
From the time of the 18. Dynasty there also exists a written
report: Ineni (see Persons),
who has been the overseer of the construction work in the temple of Karnak,
reported that he - on behalf of Thutmosis I - was responsible for
the building of a ship of approx. 63 m length and approx. 21 m width
for the transport of a pair of obelisks (Wirsching, loc. cit.).
On basis of the data given by Ineni several authors (among them also
shipbuilders) have thought about the construction and the loading of
such ships. Wirsching further developed these considerations and comes to the
conclusion that the
obelisks of Hatshepsut had been transported a double-ship (see below) that, after
his calculation, was able to transport the aforementioned 323 t.