The Beatrice (Lost Sarcophagus of Menkaure)

Dorian_Gray2

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Mar 2, 2022
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Hello everyone!

I'm an archaeology student, but when I am not busy studying I am looking for any information about lost artefacts, shipwrecks, treasure etc.

I found an interesting one the other day, which I thought I would share.

All of you have probably seen pictures of the pyramids of Giza, some of you may have even seen them in real life.

This shipwreck is related to the smallest pyramid, The Pyramid of Menkaure.

Richard William Howard Vyse (1784-1853), a serviceman and anthropologist, decided to lead an excavation expedition of the pyramids of Giza. He was the first to enter the monument and the explorer made an astonishing discovery-the sarcophagus that was immediately attributed to Menkaure. His use of gunpowder as a tool for excavating the pyramids earned him a bad reputation among modern-day archaeologists, as one may imagine.

In 1840, Vyse published “The Operations at the Pyramids of Giza 1837” where he describes also the discovery of a second, wooden sarcophagus inscribed with the name of Menkaure. It still contained human remains wrapped in coarse tissue found in the burial chamber. The main sarcophagus was made of basalt and decorated with a pattern of “palace façade.” This was the first time this kind of scenery was found in a pyramid, the previous monuments of Menkaure showed no carved decoration. Today it seems the Sarcophage was possibly not Menkaure’s after all, but proper research into the question is of course yet impossible.

Vyse hoped the artefacts would be brought up to the surface and exhibited in the British Museum once restored. “The sarcophagus would have been destroyed if it stayed in the pyramid so I decided to send it to the British Museum,” Vyse wrote in his book – at that time a common opinion. And so – after over 4,300 years in security, the Pharao’s sarcophagus was pulled out of the pyramid at the cost of considerable effort. Although Vyse provided no details of the operation, it was packed in a crate to Alexandria and embarked for England. He only made one reference to the disappearance of the sarcophagus: “It embarked from Alexandria in autumn of 1838, onboard a merchant vessel before it disappeared off Cartagena. We have not heard from it since leaving Livorno on October 12 this year.”
(Source: https://archaeologymysteries.com/2019/02/09/the-lost-sarcophage/ )


Now having dug slightly deeper into this story I have found out the following facts:

- The sarcophagus was stored on The Beatrice, which left Alexandria in the autumn of 1838.
- The Beatrice docked in Malta and then set sail to Liverpool but it sank somewhere on the way. Therefore it can be deduced that the shipwreck is somewhere in the West Mediterranean.
- 200 boxes of other Egyptian antiques were presumably also aboard
- Due to the sarcophagus being made of Basalt, it is presumably still intact, as Basalt does not corrode fast in saltwater.


I would not know what the exact monetary value of this find would be, but historically it is priceless.

If anyone has further information about the shipwreck or other relatively unknown shipwrecks in the Mediterranean I would be very interested to hear about them!
 

traveller777

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Welcome to Tnet. I hope you find your time here enjoyable and educational. I am sure several people on here will be interested in your story, so keep checking back for comments.
 

ArfieBoy

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Good luck on your search for more information about the disappearance of the basalt sarcophagus of Menkaure! And welcome to this forum from Oregon. I was once, many, many years ago a student of archaeology myself, but never finished that particular degree.
 

DCMatt

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Good read!

Here's a thread from 2008 about searching for The Beatrice:

treasurenet.com/threads/spain-and-egypt.85172/

There is an article (in Spanish) near the end of the thread. Some time around 2012, the project was apparently abandoned. After all, the wreck is in Spanish waters, the ship is British, and the cargo was (allegedly) stolen from the Egyptians who want it back. So I guess if you can't agree, just forget it...
 

traveller777

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Good read!

Here's a thread from 2008 about searching for The Beatrice:

treasurenet.com/threads/spain-and-egypt.85172/

There is an article (in Spanish) near the end of the thread. Some time around 2012, the project was apparently abandoned. After all, the wreck is in Spanish waters, the ship is British, and the cargo was (allegedly) stolen from the Egyptians who want it back. So I guess if you can't agree, just forget it...
Nice post
 

Red_desert

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Don't know about shipwreck, but years ago another TN member living on Vancouver Island BC Canada sent me a Google Earth map of a pier on a bay. Satellite images were lost in my old computer but can still tell you the story. Pier was at an angle rather than going straight out. Explanation I got was the old pier had at one time been there at the end. Apparently, the old pier remains can still be found underwater. The house is gone from property, next door is another home, you see in Google Earth. According to local stories, a man lived there with a woman who during a quarrel, carried 2 boxes (or trunks) out on the original pier to dump in the water. This supposedly, was the engineer who helped on the team the King Tut Tomb project in Egypt.
 

traveller777

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Don't know about shipwreck, but years ago another TN member living on Vancouver Island BC Canada sent me a Google Earth map of a pier on a bay. Satellite images were lost in my old computer but can still tell you the story. Pier was at an angle rather than going straight out. Explanation I got was the old pier had at one time been there at the end. Apparently, the old pier remains can still be found underwater. The house is gone from property, next door is another home, you see in Google Earth. According to local stories, a man lived there with a woman who during a quarrel, carried 2 boxes (or trunks) out on the original pier to dump in the water. This supposedly, was the engineer who helped on the team the King Tut Tomb project in Egypt.
I would put money on him dumping his wife's shoes and fancy dresses in the water. He likely was frugal as an engineer and her frivolous on his salary. Just a thought. It could have been an archeological treasure. Or just her dresses and bloomers.
 

Red_desert

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Maybe didn't word it clear enough... woman dumped the trunks off pier into water. I would think if Egyptian artifacts, it is going to be heavy for any woman to move. More likely engineer buried the stolen Egyptian cultural heritage, on his property.
 

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