Solar Barque

Solar Barque

Solar BarqueA Solar Barque (also “solar bark”, “solar barge”, “solar boat” and “sun boat”) is a mythological representation of the sun riding in a boat. The “Khufu ship”, a 43.6-meter-long vessel that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2500 BC, is a full-size surviving example which may have fulfilled the symbolic function of a solar barque. This boat was rediscovered in May 1954 when archeologist Kamal el-Mallakh and inspector Zaki Nur found two ditches sealed off by about 40 blocks weighing 17 to 20 tonnes each. This boat was disassembled into 1,224 pieces and took over 10 years to reassemble. A nearby museum was built to house this boat.

Other sun boats were found in Egypt dating to different pharonic dynasties.

Examples include:

  • Neolithic petroglyphs which (it has been speculated) show solar barges
  • The many early Egyptian goddesses who are related as sun deities and the later gods Ra and Horus depicted as riding in a solar barge. In Egyptian myths of the afterlife, Ra rides in an underground channel from west to east every night so that he can rise in the east the next morning.
  • The Nebra sky disk, which is thought to show a depiction of a solar barge.
  • Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs, including those found in Tanumshede often contains barges and sun crosses in different constellations.

A “sun chariot” is a mythological representation of the sun riding in a chariot. The concept is younger than that of the solar barge, and typically Indo-European, corresponding with the Indo-European expansion after the invention of the chariot in the 2nd millennium BC.

Examples include:

  • In Norse mythology, the chariot of the goddess Sól, drawn by Arvak and Alsvid. The Trundholm sun chariot dates to the Nordic Bronze Age, more than 2,500 years earlier than the Norse myth, but is often associated with it.
  • Greek Helios riding in a chariot, (see also Phaëton)
  • Sol Invictus depicted riding a quadriga on the reverse of a Roman coin.
  • Vedic Surya riding in a chariot drawn by seven horses

The sun itself also was compared to a wheel, possibly in Proto-Indo-European, Greek hēliou kuklos, Sanskrit suryasya cakram, Anglo-Saxon sunnan hweogul (PIE *swelyosyo kukwelos).


Hollywood Depictions of the Solar Barque

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Solar Barque - EVA Pod

Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) - Solar Barque - Millennium Falcon

Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) - Solar Barque - X-Wing Fighter

Alien (1979) - Solar Barque - Nostromo & Narcissus


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First Published: Feb 25, 2013  –  Last Updated: Feb 28, 2013