Valley of the Kings

September 11, 2010

In previous posts we have featured Tut and Merneptah.  Both of these pharaohs were entombed in the Vally of the Kings at Thebes.

Tombs for Tut and Merneptah. Valley of the Kings. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The peak of al-Qurn dominates the Theban hills.

Al-Qurn. Valley of the Kings at Thebes. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

During the 16th trough 11th centuries BC this area was the burial grounds for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt’s 18th through 20 dynasties.  Sixty-three tombs have been discovered here.  My daughter and I were able to visit Merneptah’s tomb in 2003.  This is the approach.

Merneptah's Tomb. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

It was thrilling to me to go inside the tomb, realizing that this was the burial site for the pharaoh that mentioned Israel by name in the Merneptah stele.  That is the earliest reference to Israel outside the biblical text, and dates back to 1207 BC.  See our previous post.

Entrance to Merneptah Tomb. Valley of the Kings. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Photos inside the tomb were not permitted.  I did get to see the Merneptah’s elaborate sarcophagus cover.

Below is the view looking out from the tomb entrance.

View from outside Merneptah's tomb. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Remember to click on images for higher resolution.


Merneptah Stele

September 9, 2010

Merneptah, son of Rameses II, ruled Egypt 1213-1203 B.C.  The Merneptah Stele is an inscription of great archaeological and biblical importance.  It contains the first mention of Israel in a source besides the Bible.

Merneptah Stele. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The stele was discovered in 1896 at Thebes. It is 7.5 feet high, and made of black granite.  It is displayed now in the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. The inscription includes the lines:

“The princes, prostrated, say ‘Shalom’;

None raises his head among the Nine Bows.

Now that Tehenu has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified.

Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe. Ashkelon has been overcome.

Gezer has been captured.

Yano‘am was made non-existent.

Israel is laid waste (and) his seed is not.

Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt.

All lands have united themselves in peace.

Anyone who was restless, he has been subdued by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ba-en-Re-mery-Amun, son of Re, Mer-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma‘at, granted life like Re, daily. (BAR 16:05, Sept/Oct 1990).

Note: italics are supplied to emphasize the portion of the inscription that references the area of Canaan and Israel.

The date of this inscription would be about 1207 B.C.  By that point in time, Israel was established in the land of Canaan to such an extent that it would be included in a listing of nations defeated by the world’s most powerful monarch.

Many “scholars” deny that Israel even existed as a nation by this point in time, but the inscription proves them to be wrong.

For further reading I recommend Todd Bolen’s article in The Bible and Interpretation. He wrote on his blog, “I thank God every day for the Merneptah Stele.” Go to:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/bolen357916.shtm

“The princes, prostrated, say ‘Shalom’;

None raises his head among the Nine Bows.

Now that Tehenu has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified.

Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe. Ashkelon has been overcome.

Gezer has been captured.

Yano‘am was made non-existent.

Israel is laid waste (and) his seed is not.

Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt.

All lands have united themselves in peace.

Anyone who was restless, he has been subdued by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ba-en-Re-mery-Amun, son of Re, Mer-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma‘at, granted life like Re, daily.”[i]


Editor, H. S. (2004; 2004). BAR 16:05 (Sep/Oct 1990). Biblical Archaeology Society.


King Tut

September 7, 2010

This month’s issue of National Geographic features King Tut, with a report on recent findings resulting from DNA testing.

In Egyptian chronology, King Tut (Tutankhamun) fits in the 18th dynasty, and the New Kingdom, 1550-1070 B.C.  This most famous pharaoh was really a minor king; he ascended the throne at age 9 and died at age 18 (1333-1323 B.C.). But it is because his tomb escaped the attention of centuries of grave robbers and when finally discovered (1922) was still intact and replete with thousands of artifacts valued in the millions of dollars, that King Tut is so well known.

The National Geographic article documents the results of DNA testing on King Tut and other mummies believed to have been family members.

…our team was able to establish with a probability of better than 99.99 percent that Amenhotep III was the father of the individual in KV55, who was in turn the father of Tutankhamum

…the KV55 mummy, the son of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the father of Tutankhamun, is almost certainly Akhentaten.

The article makes an interesting read.  We photographed Tut’s funeral mast, crafted of gold, in the Egyptian Museum in 2003.

King Tut's Funeral Mask. Egyptian Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Since our visit at that time, it is no longer permitted to take photos in the museum.  Hopefully, that prohibition will be lifted in the future.

Biblically, the reign of this king would have transpired during the period of the Judges.

Click on image for higher resolution.


Island of Santorini

September 3, 2010

Last March our group tour included the Mediterranean islands of Patmos, Rhodes and Crete, and we have made posts of photos w/info for each of these.  Additionally, the island of Santorini, also know as Thira,  was included.

Santorini is grouped with the Cyclades islands in the Aegean which are essentially the mountain peaks of the sunken continent of Aegeis. The word “Cyclades” is derived from the word Delos, the sacred island of the ancient Greeks.

Approach to Santorini, one of the Greek Islands. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The Cyclades are geographically positioned as a bridge between East and West, and accordingly played an important role in the history of the Greek World.  Civilization is traced back to the Bronze Age, the most important of which was located at Akrotiri on Santorini. Ruins in excellent condition have been preserved, due to the eruption of the volcano of Thera (ca. 1500 BC), which covered the site with a thick layer of ash.  Evidence abounds of an advanced culture, assimilating that of the Minoans of Crete.

Santorini is a unique sight. Its cliffs tower out of the sea, capped off by whitewashed buildings.  At center of photo you can see towers for the sky-lift; also the zig-zag road for walking, or riding donkeys.

Santorini of the Cyclades. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This is the view at sunset:

Sunset at Santorini. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click on image for higher resolution.


Lindos, Rhodes

September 1, 2010

At the highest point of the acropolis at Lindos, Rhodes, there are the remains of a temple devoted to the worship of the goddess Athena.  It is said that architectural remains belong to a temple built in the late 4th century B.C.

Temple of Athena at Lindos, Rhodes. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Often the worship of Athena is associated with the city of Athens, and its Parthenon, but the worship of this goddess was geographically widespread.  There was an important temple located at Pergamum, as well as Smyrna (two of the cities of the Seven Churches of Rev.2-3). There was a very visible temple devoted to Athena at the island of Assos (Acts 20:13).

One of the more striking impressions one receives in visiting the Bible lands is just how pervasive idolatry was.  Even today, evidences of such are seen everywhere.

When the Gospel was preached in the 1st century, there were many, such as the Thessalonians, who “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thes. 1:9). There can be no fellowship with, no agreement of “the temple of God with idols” (2 Cor. 6:16).  Wherever such temples as depicted in our photo existed, the charge was,

Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty (2 Cor. 6:17-18).

Natural beauty abounds at Rhodes.  Below is a photo of the harbor at Lindos.

Harbor at Lindos, Rhodes. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click on photo for higher resolution.