Excavations at the temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis (ancient Nekhen) on the west bank of the Nile (north of Aswan, and south of Edfu), produced some remarkable finds, including a hollow-cast copper statue of Pepi I.
Pepi I had a lengthy reign of about 50 years (c. 2283-2287 BC). His reign is in Dynasty 6, Old Kingdom. Numerous inscriptions record his influence and wealth.
“It is from Pepi’s funerary monument that the modern name of Memphis derives. His pyramid was called Mn-nfr, ‘[Pepi is] established and good'” (Clayton, Chronicles of the Pharaohs, p. 66).
To keep things interesting, Pepi married two daughters of a provincial prince of Abydos who both had the same name, Ankhnesmerire.
Pepi’s pyramid is at South Saqqara, and is badly smashed.
Merneptah, son of Rameses II, ruled Egypt 1213-1203 B.C., in the 19th Dynasty. The Merneptah Stele, made of granit, is an inscription of great archaeological and biblical importance. It contains the first mention of Israel in a source besides the Bible. On our recent tour of Egypt, this is one of the main artifacts I wanted our group to see and photograph while visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The stele was discovered in 1896 at Thebes by F. Petrie in 1896. 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 Tenhenu 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-ne Ptah Hotep-her-Ma'at, granted life like
Re, daily. (Frank Yurco, BAR, 16:05, Sept/Oct 1990)
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. Go to:
At the top of the stele there are two engraved scenes in which Pharaoh Merneptah is wearing ceremonial dress and offers Amun-Ra the reaping hook that symbolized victory and scepters of royalty. In the first scene Merneptah is followed by the goddess ut and in the second by the god Khonsu. Both were members of the Theban triads of gods with Amun-Ra.
Pharaoh Menkaura/Mycerinus was the builder of the 3rd pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The triad of Menkaura represents the Pharaoh at center, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. To his right is the goddess Hathor. To his left is Waset representing the 4th Nome of Upper Egypt). This rendering is from a single block of stone. More statues survive of Menkaure than those of his 4th Dynasty predecessors.
Pictured here is the Pyramid of Menkaura:
At left can be seen a portion of the pyramid of Cheops. To the far right are three subsidiary pyramids. Menkaure’s chief queen, Khamerernebty II, was entombed in the larger of the three.
And to close this post, a photo of my wife & me:
In the background can be seen from left to right, the pyramid of Cheops, Chephren and Menkaure.
Egypt’s 4th Dynasty was founded by Snefru c. 2613 BC. His son Cheops (Khufu) succeeded him, and is the builder of the largest of the great pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Cheops’s reign is dated c. 2589-2566 BC. This tiny statue depicts the king wearing the crown of Lower Egypt. This artifact was discovered by Flinders Petrie in the Osiris temple at Abydos in 1903. “In a curious inverse ratio we find that the smallest statue represents the builder of the greatest pyramid, while some of the finest multiple statues extant from the Old Kingdom represent the builder of the smallest of the Giza pyramids, Menkaure (fifth ruler of the 4th Dynasty)” (Chronicles, Clayton, p. 49.
Cheops’s Great Pyramid is located on the Giza plateau. Originally reaching 481 feet, it was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century AD, an architectural record that stood for 4 1/2 thousand years. There are said to be 2,300,000 building blocks averaging about 2 1/2 tons.
Here is my group photo (Oct. 19, 2022) at the pyramids of Giza.
At far left you can see the Great Pyramid of Cheops. At left center you see the pyramid of Chephren (Khafra/Khafre), which appears to be taller, but is in fact on higher ground. At far right is the pyramid of Mycerinus.
In this post we will give consideration to the first of the pyramid Builders, in the context of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (2686-2181 BC). For your convenience we share the following chart (keep in mind that dates are approximate and may vary):
“Djoser’s pyramid and its surrounding mortuary complex is recognized as the first stone building in the world” (Chronicles of the Pharaoh’s, by Peter Clayton, p. 33), built by his vizier, Imhotep. Though begun “as a simple tomb, the structure was enlarged in height and breadth on five occasions, eventually rising to its present 197 feet. Unlike Egypt’s other pyramids, the Step Pyramid was built with comparatively small limestone blocks” (BAR Nov/Dec 1990, Richard Nowitz).
The pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid, began as a mastaba (an ancient Egyptian tomb rectangular in shape with sloping sides and a flat roof) “but was subsequently subject to several major enlargements, adding one mastaba upon another, until it consisted of six unequal steps rising t to 204 ft 962 m). Its base area is 358 X 411 ft (109 X 125 m)” (Clayton, p. 34).
A statue of King Djoser is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is thought to be the oldest life-size statue from Egypt.
The statue was found in a small chapel on the north face of the pyramid.
We should note that many have the mistaken notion that the Israelites were used as slave labor to build the pyramids. The pyramids were built some centuries before Israel came into being. They were built prior to the time of Abraham!
Having just returned from a 12-day tour of Egypt, I want to share some of our photos in upcoming posts, beginning with some from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
One of the very significant displays considered to be “of major artistic and historical importance” (Illustrated Guide to the Egyptian Museum, eds. Bongioanni and Croce, p. 28, discussed in “Protodynastic and Predynastic Periods”) is the Narmer Palette. This votive tablet “is the earliest record from Egypt (Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Clayton, p.18).
Gary Byers wrote:
More than 100 years ago, archaeologists excavated an ancient Egyptian temple in the Upper Egyptian city of Hierakonpolis. Here they discovered a stone palette used to grind cosmetics, with carving on both sides. One side had the picture of a man wearing the crown of Upper Egypt, and the other side had a man wearing the crown of Lower Egypt. Scholars decided the picture on each side was the same man, and his name was Narmer. This was the earliest representation of anyone wearing the crowns of both Upper and Lower Egypt. It suggests that this was the first king of a united Egypt.
Byers, G. A. (2003). The Scorpion King. Bible and Spade, 15(3), 28.
The hieroglyphs of the royal name are a mud fish depicted horizontally above a vertical chisel, read as the name of Narmer (Chronicles, 18). He is shown in as wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt (the hedjet) and the Red Crown of Lower Egypt (dishret), indicating that he is now king of both lands, i.e., the unification of the country is commemorated. Narmer is presented as a victorious king, smiting a prisoner with his mace. This became an icon of majesty from ancient Egyptian history down to Roman times.
At the top are facing heads of the cow-faced goddess Hathor. The Horus falcon is depicted in front of Narmer.
On the obverse of the Palette the king is escorted by officials towards two rows of decapitated corpses.
One of the most visible mosques in Cairo is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, located in the Citadel. Muhammad Ali, who reigned in Egypt 1805-1849, built the mosque. At the height of his power, he controlled Egypt, Sudan, Hejaz and the Levant. He permanently ended the Mamluk hold over Egypt.
The mosque is located inside the Citadel of Saladin. This mosque is also called the “Alabaster Mosque” due to its marble paneling on both its interior and exterior walls. It is built on the Turkish style, specifically the architectural style of the Ottomans, and consists of an open court and prayer hall. The main building material is limestone, likely “recycled” from the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Our photo here shows the interior courtyard and the fountain for washing:
Yesterday (September 14, 2022) marked the 200th anniversary of the date that Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) cracked the code of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script. The granodiorite stela, which dates to 196 BC, is written in Egyptian hieroglyphic, demotic (cursive Egyptian) and Greek, and is displayed in the British Museum. Previously I posted an article here.
The Biblical Archaeology Society made an informative post yesterday — click here.
Fant and Reddish have the following information:
The Rosetta Stone is the most visited object in the enormous British Museum, viewed by millions of visitors since it was first displayed to the public in 1802. It has been called “the most famous piece of rock in the world.” Unlike many famous ancient artifacts, such as the King Tut treasures, the fame of the Rosetta Stone does not derive from its intrinsic value or beauty, nor from the message of its inscription, as is the case, for example, with the Code of Hammurabi. Yet this inscription has yielded incalculable value for an understanding of ancient history, as it provided the key to unlocking the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics. As a result, scholars have been able to decipher the meaning of countless historical writings previously lost to civilization. The inscription itself is unremarkable, a flattering decree issued by the priests of Memphis that granted a royal cult to the young King Ptolemy V, only thirteen years old at the time, in exchange for certain favors. It was written in three languages, representing the languages used by the powerful and literate groups of Egypt at that time: hieroglyphics, understood stood and used only by the priestly class; demotic, the cursive script used by the literate population at that time; and Greek, the language of the ruling government. Since ancient Greek was a language understood by modern scholars, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone enabled them to compare the Greek letters against the hieroglyphic signs and therefore solve the mystery of hieroglyphics.
(Clyde E. Fant; Mitchell G. Reddish. Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Kindle Locations 587-592).
The Lexham Bible Dictionary makes the following observations:
In addition to renewing interest toward Egypt, Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt resulted in the recovery of the Rosetta Stone, which would prove to be of immense importance to the future of Egyptology (Pope, Decipherment, 60). The Rosetta Stone was commissioned by Ptolemy V in 196 BC, and featured a message written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic (a cursive form of Egyptian), and Greek (Pope, Story, 62). The triscript monument would provide the key to deciphering the previously unintelligible Egyptian language.
Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, linguists had hypothesized that Coptic (which could be read) was a late form of Egyptian, some hieroglyphs were consonantal, and cartouches demarcated royal names. Several scholars used this information and the Rosetta Stone to decipher Egyptian language. English linguist T. Young made great strides toward deciphering Egyptian, but he was impeded by his belief that hieroglyphs were mostly symbolic rather than phonetic (Bard, Introduction, 33). French philologist J. Champollion proved most successful. His identification of the name Ptolemy in the hieroglyphic portion of the inscription enabled him to begin compiling a list of consonantal hieroglyphic signs. Soon he successfully detected the name Cleopatra on an obelisk from Philae as well as the name Xerxes on a Persian vase inscribed with both hieroglyphs and Persian cuneiform (Pope, Decipherment, 70–75). He published his findings in Precis du systeme hieroglyphique in 1824 (Pope, Story, 76). Subsequent linguists expanded on Champollion’s work, and by the end of the 19th century, scholars were producing translations of entire Egyptian texts.
The decipherment of hieroglyphs was a vital element in the progress of Egyptian archaeology. Egyptian tombs, temples, and public monuments were usually inscribed with a record of who built them and why (see Chavalas and Hostetter, “Epigraphic Light,” 53–58). Funerary texts were written both on the walls of tombs and on scrolls placed within them. Excavators were no longer dealing with just stones, statues, and pots, but with intelligible texts.
Harmon, J. A. (2016). Egypt, Archaeology of. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.