April 05, 2008

Cheryl Ward is Sailing Off to Punt

Dr. Cheryl WardWhen I was doing my undergraduate research thesis, I was fortunate to have noted underwater archaeologist Dr. Cheryl Ward as my outside committee member. Not only is she a renowned authority in her field but she also has excellent taste in movies (it was she who first told me of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter). She's presently working with a documentary filmmaker and is designing an ancient Egyptian seagoing vessel that will appear in an upcoming movie. As far as I know, there are no plans to include either Ganoderma lucidum or Bolitotherus cornutus in the boat, though I suppose they might work in something from Scarabidae somehow.

Need to build an ancient Egyptian boat? Call this FSU expert

A filmmaker is re-creating a treasure-gathering voyage of Egypt's greatest female pharaoh, and a Florida State archaeology professor is designing the boat.

FSU's Cheryl Ward spent last week in Egypt as boat-builders laid the keel for a ship she and a documentary crew will sail 1,000 miles on the Red Sea in December. The trip will trace a journey made 4,000 years ago by Egyptians under Queen Hatshepsut to Punt (modern-day Ethiopia), to bring back gold, ivory, exotic animals, myrrh and live frankincense trees.

The project is the work of French documentary producer Valerie Abita, whose "Hatshepsut and the Land of Punt" is scheduled for broadcast next spring...

"We're doing our best as modern people to imitate something the Egyptians commonly did for 1,000 years," Ward said. "It's a great adventure and a huge challenge."

Ward, 47, has spent 25 years studying ancient ships and was hired at FSU in 2000. She has been on expeditions in search of Noah's Ark and Roman pirate ships. She travels regularly to Egypt, where archaeologists since the 1970s have discovered 22 boats that once plied the Nile River.

"I am the world's leading expert on Egyptian boat-building," said Ward, before laughing. "But it's a very small field..."

Ward is giddy about December's launch.

"It's more than I ever hoped," she said, "to build a functioning boat and imitate the achievements of people in ancient times."
It was a small field, but with this new publicity I have no doubt that whenever someone in Florida has an urgent need to reconstruct an ancient Egyptian seagoing ship, Cheryl will be the very first person they call. You'd be surprised how many people in Florida have a burning desire to sail off to the land of Punt. I can think offhand of at least twenty prominent Floridians who deserve to be Punted right away!

If you need a mycologist for the trip, Cheryl, you know who to call. Just keep me in mind.

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