CAIRO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian-Japanese archeological team began to uncover ancient Egyptian King Khufu's second solar boat on Thursday beside the great pyramids at Giza.
The restoration project is to lift the 41 stone blocks with an average weight of 16 tons and move the solar boat, buried for 4, 500 years, from its underground pit.
The project has been the focus of a research by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, a delegation from Japan's Waseda University and the Japanese Institute of the Solar Boat. They have been working on the project since 2007.
Egypt's top archeologist and Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass attended the ceremony at the site, and told reporters the restoration of "the oldest and most important solar boat in the world" would take about four years to be ready for visitors.
King Khufu was a famous fourth dynasty Pharaoh who built the great Khufu Pyramid. His solar boat was designed to ferry him to the afterlife according to ancient Egyptian beliefs.
The uncovering of the stones leading to the solar boat took place inside a large tent warehouse constructed to enclose and protect the boat. The first stone block was lifted on Wednesday as a test and was replaced with a wooden one.
The second solar boat of King Khufu was detected in 1987 in a large pit to the west of the first solar boat. Both boats lie on the southern side of the Khufu Pyramid at Giza.
The first solar boat was discovered in 1954 and went on display in 1982 beside the pyramid following 13 years of restoration.
Upon completion of the restoration process, the second boat will be erected near the entrance gate of the Pyramids Plateau, whereas the first boat will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is now under construction.