Title: Unwrapping the Pharaohs
Author: John Ashton and David Down
Major Themes: Egypt, Bible Times, Israel
Synopsis: A very readable study of Egyptian archaeology and how the Biblical timeline is confirmed by the records left from the past.
History has always been my favorite subject. I’ve been reading a lot of ancient history in the past year, and when I saw Unwrapping the Pharaohs, with the subtitle “How Egyptian archaeology confirms the Biblical timeline,” I snatched it up. What a fascinating read! I think my family knows when I’m especially enjoying a book because I constantly read out little tidbits that catch my attention.
The authors of this book tell the history of Egypt from the earliest step pyramids, to the mastabas, to the massive pyramids we’ve all seen pictures of, to the kings who had their tombs dug in the Valley of the Kings. Why so much about burial places? Because that is where we get most of our information about the ancient Egyptian kings.
For many years, historians have believed that there was no way to correlate the Biblical account of ancient history with what we know about Egyptian history. They believed that, for example, the oppression of the Children of Israel occurred during the 18th Dynasty. There are no records of large numbers of slaves in Egypt during that dynasty, however, so critics claimed that the Bible is unhistorical. However, if you read the Egyptian records with the belief that the Bible is true, you will find evidence that greatly shortens the Egyptian chronology, moving the date of the 12th Dynasty to the years around 1445 BC, the Bible date for the Exodus. Guess what? There is, according to the authors of Unwrapping the Pharaohs, “prolific evidence for slaves in Egypt” during the 12th Dynasty. Interestingly, the pyramids built during this dynasty were made of sun-dried mud bricks reinforced with straw! A city named Kahun has been excavated in the Delta Region. This city was the home of huge numbers of Asiatic slaves who were employed in building for the Pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty, and shows evidence of having been abandoned suddenly. Also, immediately after this time, the Hyksos invaded with no opposition—could the Egyptian army have been drowned in the Red Sea?
I also found the correlations with the Hittites fascinating. For years, historians have believed that the Hittite Empire was wiped out during the 13th century B.C., because they synchronized Hittite records with Egyptian records. However, 400 years later, during the 9th century B.C., the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III was fighting against the Hittites, and the Bible mentions the Hittite army, in 2 Kings 7:6 as a force to be reckoned with—worse than the Egyptian army. If the Egyptian chronology is shortened, the Hittite chronology makes a lot more sense.
The authors show many more examples of stories in the Bible in which unnamed Egyptian pharoahs can be identified with kings known from Egyptian archaeology, if a different timeline is used than the traditional one. The main problem with the traditional timeline seems to be that many dynasties overlapped each other or were in power simultaneously in different parts of Egypt.
As I said above, I found this book to be, not only fascinating, but also very readable—and the authors have a nice sense of humor which I enjoyed. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient history, especially as it relates to the Bible. A DVD comes with the book (my copy, anyway), but we haven’t watched it yet.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults