At least in the case of Khufu's first ship, the timbers were carefully placed in the underground chamber.
The ships were stored like Ikea furniture - pre-fabricated and ready for assembly and stacked in a sequence that basically led to the vessel's finished form.
As the oldest surviving vessels from antiquity, the boats raise many questions. For example, what was their purpose? Was the embalmed Khufu taken to his pyramid in one of these ships? And why were there two boats? But most of all, why did the ancient Egyptians first build and then disassemble and bury two expensive, full-sized royal ships at the base of the Great Pyramid?
According to Hawass, the boats were not used in the funerary procession to carry Khufu's body from his palace at Memphis to his tomb at Giza.
Instead, they were symbolic vessels.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the sun traveled from east to west in a "day boat," called Mandjet, moving to a "night boat," called Mesektet, for the return trip to the underworld.
"The second boat was intended to carry the king across the daytime sky, while the first one was for his night voyage," Hawass told Discovery News.