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NOVA: Building Pharaoh’s Ship

Airs Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A reconstructed vessel.

A magnificent trading vessel embarks on a royal expedition to a mysterious, treasure-laden land called Punt. Is this journey, intricately depicted on the wall of one of Egypt's most impressive temples, mere myth -- or was it a reality?

Detail of the expedition depicted in a bas-relief in Deir el-Bahri temple.
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Above: Detail of the expedition depicted in a bas-relief in Deir el-Bahri temple.

Explore a Pharaoh's Boat

In this interactive feature, examine a masterpiece of ancient shipbuilding found a half century ago buried beside the Great Pyramid.

In "Building Pharaoh's Ship," NOVA travels to the legendary temple, built some 3,500 years ago for the celebrated female pharaoh Hatshepsut, in search of answers to this tantalizing archeological mystery.

Did Punt exist and, if so, where was it? Did the ancient Egyptians, who built elaborate barges to sail down the Nile, also have the expertise to embark on a long sea voyage?

NOVA follows a team of archeologists and boat builders as they reconstruct the mighty vessel shown on the mysterious carving, and then finally launch it in to the Red Sea on a unique voyage of discovery.

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NOVA: Building Pharaoh's Ship

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Above: Watch a preview of "NOVA: Building Pharaoh's Ship."