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
We might think, however, that
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.
strataThe most important fact about Egyptian history is that the archaeological character of this land is unlike that of
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
The "Intermediate Periods" are inextricably keyed to the chronological numbering of the dynasties. So the "
This is followed by the
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
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
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
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
The Book of Sothis is another source for the names of kings, starting from the founding of
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
astronomyIt 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
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,
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 clichéd, 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-14For 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
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).
ManethoThe 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
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
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."
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
Because Manetho does not entirely support the modern understanding of
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
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
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.