Contents

A Preliminary Note
Most Ancient Days -- Preface
Chapter 1 -- The Number of the Years: chronology from Adam to Saul
Chapter 2 -- The Age of Evil Imagining: the Confusion and Scatter at Babel
Chapter 3 -- The Generations of the Sons of Noah: the Tabel of Nations
Chapter 4 -- Cities of the Twin Rivers: Shinar from Babel to Sodom
Chapter 5 -- Profane Fables: Egyptian historiagraphy and the standard paradigm
Chapter 6 -- Kings of the Nile: Egypt from Babel to Sodom

Chapter 7 -- Stones of Sumer: Jemdet Nasr and "Early Dynastic"

Chapter 8 -- Sands of Egypt: Dyanasty XIIa & IIa

Chapters 9 & 10 (The Age of Base Metal: The Middle Bronze Age) -- Expanded and presented here.

Chapter 11 -- Joseph Over the House of Pharaoh: Egypt in the 18th century

Chapter 12 -- The Pharaoh Who Knew Not Joseph: The Old Kingdom to the Exodus

Chapter 13 -- Moses Prince of Egypt: Dynasty XIII and the "First Intermediate Period"

Chapter 14 -- Into the Hands of the Living God: the Ten Plagues of Egypt






Chapter 5 -- Profane Fables: Egyptian historiography and the standard paradigm

Chapter 5

Profane Fables:
Egyptian historiography and the standard paradigm



But refuse profane and old wives fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

— I Tim 4:7



We have looked at the post-Flood era that ended at Babel — the truly "prehis­toric age". The only reliable source of infor­mation we have for this period is found in the Bible. At Babel, the clans of mankind became nations, and the cultures of the earliest archaeological record were formed. There followed the age of leg­end, of Nimrod and Gilgamesh, and then what we would call history proper, where we find the written texts of perished civiliza­tions, Mesopotamian and Egyptian.

We might think, however, that Egypt is thoroughly known, given its trove of artifacts and its plethora of texts. But we need to examine some basic issues. "Historiography" is a fancy word that means "how history is put together". "Paradigm" is a fancy word that means "a system by which we interpret evidence" — from this we produce a theory. I use these words not to be fancy, but because they are, simply, the correct words. In this chapter we will consid­er such matters, with regard to Egypt. We will look at the vagaries that have allowed the incredible distortions of the orthodox paradigm.

From the point of view of the standard model, we are faced with a discon­certing fact. Overnight, as it were, Egyptian civi­lization achieved maturity; and in its physical manifesta­tion it revealed the characteristics that were to be constantly visible for the next ‼three millennia.” In other words, from the Evolu­tionary para­digm the evidence demands that Egyptian civilization did not Evolve, but rather magic­ally appeared, full grown. This is an odious conclusion from the perspective of common sense, but it is exactly the same miracle that Evolution­ism demands in terms of bio­logy: taxonomic families appear fully formed in the fossil record, with no sub­stantive development ever appearing in the actual evidence. I will not defend this statement here — I have dealt with it in Idols of the Cave. Evolution, it seems — whether in biology or in earliest history — always happens somewhere else, out of sight, and never leaves any traces. Well then, how did life achieve its complexity? A theological solution is not disreputable. How did Egypt ap­pear, fully formed? Its culture was transplanted from Babel.

In actuality, ancient history as it is commonly understood is a fraud. By this, I do not mean to imply a lack of personal integ­rity on the part of any particular historian or archeolo­gist, but rather a lack of discernment. The false worldview of Evolution­ism — as it applies to the social science of history — has created a false perception. In a sense, this does indicate a lack of integrity, in that minds are closed and evidence is ignored.

Skeptics say they do not have enough evidence to come to a conclusion about the existence of God, and yet they have the evidence of their very existence, and they have the knowl­edge that in any observed system, complexity and organization never arise randomly. In other words, entropy is never counter­acted, except by a prior investment of intelligence. This blan­ket state­ment is rigorously supported in Idols of the Cave. But such philosophical questions aside, there is a very great prob­lem with Egyptian his­tory, which stems from this faulty worldview.


strata

The most important fact about Egyptian history is that the archaeological character of this land is unlike that of Palestine or Mesopotamia. The layers of ancient city mounds make a very clear statement about the relative age of those layers. Lower equals older. When archaeologists dig up a city mound in Meso­potamia, the reason there is a mound, is that older buildings fell to ruins, and newer buildings were built on top of them, and so are younger. No surprise there. What makes Egypt different is the fact that Egyptian sites are not layered. We do not have that clear voice, telling us what is older.

Well, isn't that convenient. How nice for me. Just exactly what my theory needs to be true, I state as a fact. So how do you know I am not lying, or stating as fact some­thing that I want ever-so-much to be true, whether it is true or not? Am I making this up, just because my theory needs it to be so? Hear the testi­mony of orthodox archeology: In Egypt, with certain rare excep­tions, we do not have excavated stratified village or city sites, each with a sequence of levels which must be corre­lated in order to arrive at the internal archaeological chronolo­gy of the country. The mass of archaeological remains in Egypt, except for the great temples and a limited number of settlement sites, consists of cemeteries — aggregations of separate units — which must be ar­ranged in sequence by the association of the individual grave groups with inscribed material and by topologi­cal study.

Ancient history is keyed to Egyptian history. If the dynas­ties of Egypt have been put in the wrong chronological order, everything keyed to it will be wrong. As to whether or not the dynasties actually are in the wrong order, we shall see. But what is clear, now, is that the order that they are placed in is not the result of archeology, but rather of a theory, an assumption. It is not objective, not empirical. All of ancient history as it is commonly understood is based on what I will call the Egyptian Hypothesis: that dynasties are numbered chronologi­cally. It is important enough to repeat: the chronology of ancient history is based on a mere hypothesis.

History is constructed from evidence and theory. A theory is just a story we tell about evidence. We are told stories about the past, which are presented as facts and as history. I will show that many of them are not facts at all, but hypotheses invented by various scho­lars to explain the actual facts. For exam­ple, we are told of the many dynasties of Egypt, extending back over five thousand years ago. Are these dynasties facts? We shall see.

In formulating a theory, the proper place to start is with the evidence. From this, we are supposed to construct a theory. If we make few assumption while explain­ing much evidence, we have a strong theory. If we have to invent ideas to make a theo­ry work, this weakens the theory. If there are too many such inventions, we do not have a theory at all, but a disreputable hypothesis.

The "Intermediate Periods" of Egyptian history, and the ad hoc durations of the dynasties — determined not by the evidence of the monuments or the testimony of ancient historians, but rather from the needs of the theory — these are assumptions that destroy the objectivity of the theory.

Ancient Egypt is said to have lasted from Menes of Dynasty I to Nectanebo II of Dynas­ty XXX, ending in 341 BC. In this book and its companion, The Days of Brass and Iron, we will look at all the relevant evi­dence. Through various means, the standard con­struction of Egyp­tian histo­ry has been pieced to­gether. As to what that theo­ry looks like, the out­line is in Table 5-1. The details of this [Egyp­tian] chro­nology are based on king lists with regnal years, various types of contemporary docu­ments, and astro­nomical and calendri­cal data.” Now, is this chro­no­logy correct?

Well, first, you can see that I do not think it is by the fact that I have included so many asterisks. But more to the point, it is very unlikely to be abso­lutely correct, as we can see when we com­pare refer­ence books, and find different dates for these peri­ods. There is room for fudging. Even more impor­tantly, they are not likely to be correct be­cause history itself — especially ancient history — is a hypothesis. It is, again, a story we tell about the past, trying to explain the evidence. We hope and think that our version is a good story, and true, but in many cases it is at best a flimsy guess. The names we give to pe­riods or eras are, of neces­sity, arbitrary. We pick what we think is an im­por­tant event or per­son, and name the time after it. We look for patterns and benchmarks. But this should not be confused for precision.


When we correct Egyptian history, we see that it can still be divided into signifi­cant eras, from Mizraim and Nimrod to Abraham, from Abraham and the Sodom catastrophe to Seso­stris III and Joseph, from Joseph to the end of his family's government as the Dodec­archy, from the oppressive pharaohs of the Bondage to Moses and Joshua, and finally, from the appearance of the Hyksos to the end of their control in Egypt, in the days of Saul. Unfortunately, scholars have invented their own scheme, based as we shall see upon the misconstruing of geography for chronology. And again as we shall see, in order to rescue this system, dynasties have been juggled around and eras — "dark ages" — have been invented that actually have no reality.

In The Days of Brass and Iron, we will have great opportunity to study such rescue devices, in the several illusory "dark ages" that are inserted to stretch out the standard chronology of Assyria and Babylo­nia where it wants stretching, and to ob­scure the fact that kings are contemporar­ies when the theo­ry de­mands that they be separated by centuries. In this volume, we have encountered this phe­nom­enon in the Early Dynas­tic I & II dark ages of Sumer, and we will see it in the so-called Interme­diate Periods of Egypt.

The "Intermediate Periods" are inextri­cably keyed to the chronological numbering of the dynasties. So the "Old King­dom" (IV through VI) is said to have been punctuated with the "First" of these "Periods" (1st IP), which consists of Dynasties VII through the first part of XI. Next comes the "Middle Kingdom" (XI, XII, and perhaps XIII), ending in the "Second" of these "Intermediate Period" (2nd IP), comprised of Dynasties XIII & XIV through XVII.

This is followed by the New Kingdom, which is a historical reality, but which must await its discussion in The Days of Brass and Iron. Alas, if we reorganize the dy­nasties into their correct order, then the "1st IP" becomes ut­terly irrational, while the "2nd IP" of the Hyksos needs to be completely re-thought. That is, the period of the Hyksos really does follow the Middle King­dom, but so does the "1st IP" — and each also follows the "Old King­dom", as well. Utterly irratio­nal. This is pretty confus­ing, so take a look at Table 5-2, which compares the Egyptian periods from the standard and the biblical perspec­tives.

{{If I were going to reform the jar­gon of Egypto­logy, I would use the scheme shown in the Table 5-3. For each city, the letters designate eras (A = Babel to Sod­om, B = Abraham to Joseph, C = Bondage to Exodus, D = Josh­ua to Deborah, E = Deborah to Saul); the num­bers note different lines which held power in the same era. I do not seriously pro­pose that this scheme be ado­pted, because the other is too esta­blish­ed, but it is superior in that it gives more, and cor­rect, infor­mation.}}


historiography

Let's move away from theory for the moment, and look at the evi­dence. The chronol­ogy for the most ancient historical period was genera­ted by a] vari­ous histor­i­cal sources, b] rela­tive chronology, c] s­yn­chron­isms, and d] astro­nomic calcu­la­tions. Now, with Egypt the rela­tivity of inter­nal Egyp­tian archeo­logi­cal evi­dence is assumed, rather than actual; we have al­ready dis­cussed this, but to men­tion it once again: there is no signifi­cant archeo­logi­cal stratification in Egypt.

As for synchron­isms, where rulers are ex­plicit­ly listed by their foreign contem­porar­ies, there are absolutely none — not any — pri­or to Dynasty XVIII (of the New Kingdom, which followed the pe­riod of the Hyksos in Egypt, and in Mesopotamia, after the periods dom­i­nated by Sumer, Akkad, Ur III, and Isin-Larsa). For the New King­dom, on the basis of synchron­isms it is pos­sible to put approximate dates on some of the kings named, and from data in the king lists, other dates can be calcu­lated; but because of gaps in the lists, coregencies, and other factors, the results are far from satisfacto­ry.” So, once more, we see the foun­dation of the Egyptian Hypothesis re­duced. Where then does it find its strength? — aside from the pre­sumption of Evolutionism? From Manetho, as we will see.

Again, there are astronomical events that are mentioned in a very few ancient texts, from which are de­rived dates, but we will see that there is no reliability here either. This leaves only the king lists and the historians, which we will now discuss; then we will return to the more techni­cal and theoretical consider­ations, of astronomy, and while we are at it, ra­diocar­bon dating.

When we consider the evidence it­self, we must first look at the writ­ten record. Any wide-ranging chroni­cle of the pharaohs that may once have ex­isted is now lost. But of course there are other sources — from monuments and tombs, king lists, and historians. From these sources the Egyp­tian Hy­pothesis was synthesized. The "dy­nas­tic" nomencla­ture is based on the his­to­rian Manetho — augmented by king lists (e.g., of Thutmose II and Seti I, or from Saqqarah).

The reliability of the information for the earliest period is generally dis­counted by modern­ists. The very long lengths given for the reigns of the early kings caused such consterna­tion among historians, that if any historicity is to be al­lowed for the record, excuses must be found. Thus, to explain the early lengths, we read that Evidence from the later period that Egyptians practiced the custom of co-regencies suggests that these [ear­ly] figures incorporate some overlap­ping of reigns.” From a biblical perspective, we under­stand that the first generations after the Flood en­joyed a life span that was very long compared to ours, but was ever dimin­ishing when compared to that of the pre-Flood race.

The monuments are of only limited val­ue, and other evidence gives us a broader perspec­tive. Monuments may tell us that such-and-such an event occurred in a cer­tain year of a given king's reign. Howev­er, this is not as straightforward as we might suppose, since such errors can be made as assuming a certain festival occur­red only every 30 years, when it actually happened every three years after a ruling king's 30th year. So such information does not necessarily tell us how long a king ruled, and it also does not warn us of any possible co-regencies.

The lengths of reigns given for any individual (from king lists or from monuments) need not agree, since the starting point and termina­tion, and the precise nature of power — nominal or practical — is not explicitly stated. So, any notation of the length of a king's reign may include some office or power he held before he mounted the throne, or may refer to some early, local rule, or to a regional or national rule; it may include or exclude coregencies, and may or may not count time spent in exile. Since these details are not stated, and since the cus­toms of the pre-Exodus Egyptians are quite obscure, even dates that are consistent may not be as reliable as we would wish.


There is also a problem in identifying a pharaoh, simply because he had so many names. It was the custom of pharaohs to have at least five names: 1] the Horus name, signifying the patriarch Ham; 2] the "two ladies" name, in reference to the goddesses of upper and Lower Egypt; 3] the mysterious "golden Horus" name — which we may identify as the name commemorating the younger Horus (fair Apollo, known in history as Gilgamesh); 4] the prenomen, almost always compounded with ‛Re’ — the king's principal and most used name; and 5] the nomen, prefixed by "Son of Re" — the king's name when he was prince, num­bered, and used most by us. The latter two names are found in cartouches.

Some kings are thought to have been extremely boastful, greatly exaggerated their accomplishments. Part of this understanding is due to faulty chronology, where a great king may be known under two names, with his accomplishments assigned to only one of those names, which has the effect of making his other persona into a blowhard. But other kings truly were blowhards, claiming for themselves the achievements of others. If we do not have a sure source that tells us all the names of a pharaoh, then if a certain text uses one name, and another text uses some other name, unique or obscure — how can we know the same individual is being referred to? We will meet this problem with the first two pharaohs of Dynasty XII, where Mentuhotep II and III may be the same person, and Amenemhet I may be the previous vizier of the same name. Again, in the New Kingdom, we shall find the same pharaoh called by different names, and so misidentified.

From archeology, our information regarding the Thinite and Memphite dynas­ties” (I through VI) comes only from stony shards of king lists. These frag­ments, however, are in such poor conditions that they raise more chronologi­cal problems than they solve.” For example, the Palermo Stone goes year by year for the first five or six dynasties, mentioning the year's most notable event. Without this stone, the re­cord of the earliest dynasties would be practically non-existent. But only the sec­tion dealing with the earliest times survives, and it is so fragmentary that it is rarely referred to. Furthermore, even insofar as the details are accurate, the organization of the Stone may not be, in that its informa­tion was compiled by much later scribes who were working with an agenda and a preconception about their own history.

The badly damaged Table of Karnak (from the reign of Thutmose III) had 61 names of kings, but only 48 are still legi­ble — though apparently not in order. Many known kings are simply omitted, and apparently only rulers deemed worthy are mentioned, while modest or unpopular kings are ignored. In other words, this list is more a political document than a historical one. Many names of kings are included who were either ephemeral, or unknown from any other source. The Karnak list is in close agreement with Manetho's first six dynasties — which suggests that it, or some similar source, was used by Manetho when he compiled his history. However, after the kings of Dynas­ty XII, it adds many names of ‛fantastic’ appearance. By my reconstruc­tion, these names would be the regional kings of Dynasties XIV, XIII, X, VIII, and perhaps others, all of which followed Dynasty XII.

From the tomb walls at Abydos, we find paintings that show Seti I and Ramses his son making oblation to 76 of their ‛ances­tors’ — that is, royal predecessors. Again, Ramses II left the Saqqarah Table, originally showing the cartouches of 57 kings.

In the scribal copies of king lists made during the Ramessid dynasty (XIX), only names, and not events, were listed. And of these copies, only a single shredded papyrus survives: the Turin Papy­rus (or Canon), located now at the Museo Egizio in Turin. In this important source, written in hieratic script, only the most important kings seem to have been listed. Temple and tomb in­scriptions sometimes reprise some of this list, but they give little help in chronological matters.

The Turin Canon gives a span of 955 years from Menes to the end of Dynasty VIII. The standard paradigm has guessed that Menes dates from around *3100 BC, so, using this 955 figure, it places the end of Dynasty VIII in the *2200's. Astronomic calcu­lations have been used to date Dynasty XII; ‛dates’ earlier than ≡1872 BC can be calculated with some degree of certainty back to the 11th dynasty, but before that time the paucity of detailed information allows only reasonable estimates to be made.” The duration of the ‛obscure’ period from the start of (the standard understanding of) Dynasty IX to the end of Dynasty X is simply guessed. I have just told you how the standard chronology was constructed: with guesses and a single figure from a fragmen­tary source. In comparison, using the Turin Papyrus informa­tion, my reconstruction has Dynasty VIII ending around 1236 BC.

The Book of Sothis is another source for the names of kings, starting from the founding of Egypt. It may record — at least in part — the correct order of the dynasties, and it certainly remembers otherwise forgotten kings, all the way down to the time of the Persians, in 525 BC. This source is not respected by histori­ans because it disagrees so strongly with the accepted view.

Again, Eratosthanes was the librarian of the great Library of Alexandria. Using this incredible resource, he produced a history of Egypt; although his work has not survived, we have some of his information, which does not agree with the modernist model, but fits very well with my reconstruction.

The upshot is that the written record in itself is inade­quate to justify confidence in the standard construction of Egyptian chronology. We are faced with the fact that the narra­tive of Egyptian history is insubstantial and full of gaps. This inadequacy becomes more marked the farther back the story goes.” With what are we left, then? To achieve a continuous history of Egypt and to bridge the gaps left by the fragmen­tary state of the extant chronological material, scholars must turn to other means, particularly astronomi­cal references found in dated texts.


astronomy

It is said that when the Egyptians formed their calendar they noticed that the Dog Star, Sothis or Sirius, appeared on the horizon at about the same time that the Nile rose. But the stars do not observe leap years, and so the Sothic calendar and the sea­sonal flood of the Nile grew increasingly out of synch. Given the uniform progres­sion of the stars, only every 1,460 years would Sothis appear at the same time as the Nile flood. This disparity was not difficult to notice, and the convention arose of noting the "Sothic Cycle", looking to the time when Sirius would rise again on July 19/20.

However, we have already noted that it is very unsafe indeed to assume that the heavens have turned at a uniform rate. We are told that after one of the cyclic catastrophes, it was Abraham who taught the Egyptians the new motions of the heavens. From the sure testimony of the Bible itself, we know of the long day of Joshua, when the rotation, and perhaps the axis, of Earth was interfered with. We also know of the retrograde shadow of Hezekiah's obelisk. There are other examples as well. Even the Egyptians themselves explicitly noted that the courses of heaven had changed. So the calcula­tions are unsound, that have used astronomy to date dynasties.

These astronomical references are related principally to the rising of Sothis and to the new moon.” Only three documents exist that allow a correla­tion to the Sothic year. The earli­est reference is for the 7th year of Sesostris III (Dynas­ty XII), from which stan­dard chro­nology has fixed the start of his reign in either ≡1877 or ≡1872 BC. The second notation was for the 9th year of Amenho­tep I (Dynasty XVIII), variously cal­culated as ↕1539, ↕1538 or ↕1536 — or ↕1518 — depending on where the astro­nomical observation was made, Memphis or Thebes. The last refer­ence would have the 54-year-long reign of Thutmose III include the year ↕1469, ↕1458, or ↕1438 BC.

While several confounding factors allow for an error of a decade or so, no manner of conventional excuse will reconcile such dates with my reconstruction of history. Neither can this astronomic method be reconciled with the Bible, given its ex­plicit testimony that the course of the heavens has been dis­rupted on more than one occasion.

The Sothic cycle is responsible for the misconception that the ancients had regarding the age of their civilizations. As astronomical observations become more clich├ęd, and the recognition of long-term cosmic cycles entered into the time-reckoning scheme of some particular region, it is only natural that some chronologist should attempt to clear up the murkiness with regard to the origins of the civilization. The means of this ‛fix’ was to connect the legendary beginning of the land to the extrapo­lated beginning of, say, a Sothic cycle, or the 432,000-year-long yuga cycle of the Hindus (or other astronomical fictions of briefer durations). The emotional satisfac­tion that a scribe would derive from such manufactured elegance would cement the date.

As for new moons, if accurate observations were made, cer­tain documents should allow for fixing a date within a 25-year lunar cycle. There is some doubt [about accuracy], howev­er, shown by the attempts of very competent scholars to covert these moon dates. Sometimes even moon dates given by the same papyrus contradict themselves; in another case, the dates given by a document had to be amended to achieve a reason­able result.... There­fore, every date given for a fixed reign should be used with caution as the astronomi­cal observation on which it is based may be inexact .... the more time recedes, the more the chronology of the Egyptian history becomes uncertain, even when astronomical data are available. Up till now even carbon-14 data are of no great help, as uncertainties are mostly not greater than the standard deviations to be expected in a carbon-14 calculation.


C-14

For my detailed discussion of radiocarbon dating, see Idols of the Cave and The Pillars of Heaven. Briefly, the theory that Libby developed is an impres­sive achieve­ment, but its assumptions are not sound. Specifically, the theory requires that the amount of radioactive carbon in the atmosphere has remained constant; however, this isotope is entering the system about 12% faster than it is leaving: that is, it is still accumulating, indicating that it has not had enough time to come to a balance, which should have occurred within 30,000 years of the starting point of the system — supposedly millions or bil­lions of years ago. Libby ignored this discrepancy, by assuming that such a variation was within the limits of experimental error. Alas, more sophisticated methods of measuring the total amount of atmospheric radiocarbon indicate that the imbalance is not 12%, but 50%.

Whatever the rate of build-up, radiocarbon dating is total­ly inaccurate for the early centuries after the Flood. The pre-Flood atmosphere was of such a character as to prohibit the build-up of C-14, and so organisms of the immediate post-Flood world had an effective zero-level radiocarbon content — which would have the effect of making their fossils appear to be ex­ceedingly old, on the order of many tens of thousands of years old. During the decades and centuries that followed the Flood, the production of C-14 in the atmosphere increased geometri­cal­ly, until its ratio to normal carbon dioxide approached the modern level. Thus, the more recent an artifact is, the more accurate its "date" will be. I have made the rough estimate that any date from after about 1000 BC will be reliable.

Applying what we know, we note that C-14 dating — of a beam from a tomb at Saqqarah — places the start of Dynasty I at around the *30th century BC, 170 years. Since the cor­rected time was the 22nd century BC, we may deduce that C-14 ‛dates’ are 700 or 800 years off for this era. A comprehen­sive survey of radiocarbon measurements of Old Kingdom monuments has tended to support the dating of Breasted, some three centuries earlier than that which is commonly accepted now because of the demands of the current theory. How­ev­er, because the chronology is in such chaos, some "dates" appear to be too young.

Thus, for sites in
Anatolia and elsewhere, it has be­come increasingly clear that C-14 dates for the *third millenni­um, and probably for the latter part of the *fourth millennium as well, are generally much too low. Perhaps the physicists will eventu­ally be able to explain the cause of this discrepan­cy; for the moment, however, it would seem best to ignore the C-14 dates when they are in clear conflict with solid archaeological evi­dence. This is exactly what has been done by the excava­tors of Beyce­sultan . . .” Whether through faulty assump­tions about na­ture, or about chronology, for early periods radiocarbon dating is simply not secure.

Despite all these uncertainties, some Egyptologists state with confidence that the "Archaic" period (Dynasties I and II) started around *3090 BC, Dynasty XI in ≡2133 BC, the Middle Kingdom (centered on Dynasty XII) in ≡1991 BC, and the New King­dom in ↕1567 or ↕1552 BC (depending on which lunar cycle Ramses II is supposed to have begun his reign, circa ≡1304 or ≡1290 BC). We have looked at the foundation of such "dates", and may dismiss them on grounds both empirical (manifest contradic­tions and ambigu­ities) and historical (e.g., the Bible, Josephus, and the Egyptians themselves).


Manetho

The question remains, is the hypothesis correct, of consecu­tive dynasties? While ancient historians also organized pharaohs into dynasties, the numbering of the dynasties as we have it today derives from one source only: Manetho, the true father of the Egyptian Hypothesis. He was an Egyptian priest of the third century before Christ, and Ptolemy II Philadelphus commissioned him to write a history of Egypt in Greek. His work is lost except for some excerpts used by Sextus Julius Africanus and Eusebius in writing their chronicles” — and excerpts have also been preserved by Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century AD.

Despite this grave shortcoming — where we cannot even examine the original source, but only second-hand paraphrases — the
absolute chronology of Egypt relies upon indigenous historical traditions organized . . . by the priest Manetho into a framework of thirty-one dynasties, stretching from the beginning of historical times throughout the Persian period.

If we would understand Manetho correctly, we must realize that he told the complete story of each royal city, before moving on to the next. His treatment was thematic, rather than chronological. In contrast to this, Babylonian scribes told the history of their whole region as it occurred, chronological­ly. Manetho's system implies that, for a time, each dynasty dominated at least some region of Egypt; it does not mean that each dynasty was expended before the next took its place. Neither does it mean that two dynasties were not rivals — in fact, even the standard model real­izes this. Manetho's dynasties themselves do not always conform to the sequence of suc­cession and of changes of houses as they can be observed from more ancient sourc­es.” So, attempts to rec­on­cile whol­ly the dynastic tradition recounted by Manetho with the names in the king lists and the surviving monuments have been unsuccess­ful.

Now, given that all agree that Manetho is not as reliable as we would wish, it is still my position that, while he got the scheme wrong, yet Manetho got the details correct in terms of the locale, order and duration of the kings within his dynasties. The apparent disagreement between his several extractors, I take to be the result of their use of different events in a given king's reign — his appoint­ment as heir, his investiture as co-regent, his ascension as sole ruler, and so on.

In the things that could be checked easily, such as the order in which kings ruled in a given dynasty or city, Manetho is accurate. All any of his contemporaries had to do was go out into the public places and read the monu­mental inscriptions for himself, to test Manetho's writing: "I, such and such a king, ruled so many years after my father, so and so." Temple walls, pyramid casings, tomb faces, obelisks, steles — all amount to the raw stuff of history. Egypt was, and remains, the land of monuments. While the absolute order of kings in a dynasty would be easy to estab­lish, the rela­tionship between kings of different cities, differ­ent regions, different eras, would be very diffi­cult to check.

But as for Manetho's grand design, I maintain that he is simply wrong. This is where he committed an error that has utterly distorted our modern under­standing of the ancient world. He organized the dynasties into an incorrect scheme. His facts are right but his interpretation was wrong. Rather than dynas­ties running end to end, consecutively, more than a few of them ran side by side, contemporary to each other.

The practical effect of Manetho's error was to extend Egyp­tian history a thousand years too far into the past. Whether he did this deliberately as a propaganda ploy to establish Egypt's primacy as the founding civilization of the world, or whe­ther he simply made a mistake, or was misinformed, I cannot say. Given that he was writing at the same time as the Babylonian historian Berosus (who was also a priest, but nominally of dif­ferent gods), and given that Manetho and Berosus may well have been rivals, vying for the honor of their own lands — well, it is certainly possible that any distortion in Manetho's work was deliber­ate, which made Egypt older than its cultural rival.

Because Manetho does not entirely support the modern under­standing of Egypt, only that part of his evidence which is friendly is accepted, and Manetho himself is not re­spec­ted as reliable. So it is stated that Manetho added semi­historical traditions and stories . . . . There had been, undoubtedly, fewer historical facts in Manetho's his­tory than one might expect. . . .During copying and recopying, Manetho's text clearly suffered many changes, unintentionally or by propose.” Scholars assert that early reigns may have been leng­­thened, and excerpting done carelessly. There­fore, Manetho's work, as handed down to us, is short of useless. Never­theless, to­ge­ther with the fragments of the annals and of the king list of Turin, they create a frame­work of Egyptian chronol­ogy; so the division into dynasties was taken over from Manetho.

Notice, Manetho is considered almost useless, yet his scheme is the foundation of Egyptology. His details are ignored, and his over-all philosophy adopted — precisely the opposite of what I maintain is correct. Somebody made a guess: Manetho's scheme is correct, let's trust him. But what if he wasn't cor­rect? What does that do to our entire under­standing about an­cient history? Every­thing depends on the accuracy of Manetho. If he is dis­credited, the entire modern understanding of the roots of civi­lization is shattered.

The voices of the other historians of antiquity directly contradict Manetho, and support my reconstructed version. Thus we find recorded by Josephus the detail that from "Menes to Solomon was over 1,300 years" — which is as much as to say from Babel to Solomon. Now, Solomon ended his reign in 931 BC, and the Confusion at Babel occurred c. 2192 BC, so this total of about 1,260 years is pleasingly close to Jose­phus's "over 1,300". Again, the Romans recalled that, between the defeat of king Philip of Macedonia in 197 BC, and the beginning of the reign of Ninus [Nimrod] king of the Assyri­ans . . . lies an interval of 1995 years.” Nimrod was the contempo­rary — indeed, the nephew — of Menes / Mizraim. So two inde­pen­dent sources, citing different traditions and different ref­er­ence points, still give us the same time frame. This cer­tain­ly is not a clincher for my reconstruction, but it is yet anoth­er valida­tion. Note that, contrasted to this, the standard chro­nology would place about 2,200 years between Menes and Solo­mon (instead of 1,300 — a disagreement of 900 years), and about 2,600 years between Nimrod and Philip (instead of 1,995 — a disagreement of 600 years).

Again, we have met Eratosthanes, the librarian of the great Alexandrian Library, reputed to have had all the books in the world. In his history, the order of pharaohs within dynasties agrees with Manetho, but the order of the dynasties themselves, in relation to one another, is at odds. And the Book of Sothis agrees with Eratosthanes, but not with Manetho. The fragmentary Turin Papyrus confirms that Manetho was in error, as does the fragmentary Palermo Stone. Scattered references by historians of other nations shed light on the true age of Egypt — and again, Manetho is contra­dicted, and again these other sources are confirmed.

The upshot is that in formulating the modern system of the chronology of the ancient world, Manetho's scheme was chosen, while all other ancient historians were virtually ignored. This is understandable, given that these other sources were even less well-preserved than Manetho, but it is a shame. Had Eratos­thanes' work survived intact, we might very well have a very accurate picture. Had the Palermo Stone not been damaged, we would have a surer footing. Had the Turin Papyrus been pub­lished and copied more than the scheme of Manetho, history would be other than it is. And most of all, had the Bible been be­lieved, we would be correct.

But let's deal with reality instead of regrets. And as a part of seeking truth, we need to examine not the conclusions that experts spoon-feed us, but rather the actual data that they piece together to form their beliefs, which become our beliefs. Examine the charts. Compare them with the standard conception of Egyptian, and world, history. Between these two views, there can be no compromise. While even the most conven­tional of historians agrees that several dynasties ran side by side, that is a far cry from admitting to the paradigm that I am presenting. Once it is admitted that Egyptian histo­ry is significantly other than is commonly thought, all other aspects of the ancient world are automatically altered. Egyptian history has served as the template through which Meso­potamian history has been interpreted. In effect, Egyptian history is chronology, and if it is wrong, then all relevant chronolo­gy is wrong.

So. Are the dynasties of Egyptology facts? No, they are concepts. Do we find ancient Egyptian histories, detailing the reigns of successive pharaohs? No, we find enigmatic lists. Do we find various contemporaneous docu­ments substan­tiating the reality of these dynasties? No, we find gaps. We have taken the word of a single source, Manetho, and from this witness the chronology of not only Egyptian civiliza­tion, but of all the ancient world is derived. The Egyptians built mighty pyramids, massive structures on a broad foundation. But our understanding of Egyptian civilization is an inverted pyramid: a massive struc­ture balanced on a single point.

We have two choices. We can take Manetho as our authority, and date all history from his scheme of consecutive Egyptian dynasties, or we can take the Bible as our authority, and take its unified and consistent account as our standard. This book, obviously, is written from the latter position. As for the strengths of one or the other, again, this book examines the evidence, by which — along with any independent checking you might care to do — you may choose what it is you wish to believe.

No comments: