Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sven Geruschkat--A Modern Master

Have jusr been introduced to the work of Sven Geruschkat, a veritable Holbein among digital artists.
Just look at his marvelous reconstruction of the head of Nefertiti.  It looks like a photograph of the queen.  Of this guy I totally approve!  When you get to his page click on "CGINew" and you will see it.  Then click on the thumbnail.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Neferura, Heir Apparent

This is thanks to Stuart Tyler and his Hatshepsut Project  at

Perhaps because the fragment rests in a rather obscure Scottish museum, I had never viewed an image of it and was so surprised and appalled that I asked Stuart if there was any possibility it might be a fake. You can see my conversation with him, as well. But he convinced me it was not and I then realized that, at the time of the building of Hatshepsut's mortuary complex, [ca. Year 7] Thutmose III was supposed to be out of the picture entirely.  He really had lost his throne to Hatshepsut's ambitions.
They were not joint rulers at all or Neferura, Hatshepsut's daughter, would have been displayed as a mere princess and not with the diadem and sidelock of an heir apparent--yet another female pharaoh waiting in the wings.    During my conversation with Stuart at his site, you can view the URLs to some images of Ramesside Era princes wearing a nearly identical diadem and sidelock.
[click on image for larger view]
There is nothing in existence depicting Thutmose, himself, as a prince. It is scarcely any wonder, then, in light of the above image, that William Petty, in a couple of articles, has pointed out that there are no unambiguous inscriptions of Thutmose III between his Year  5 and Year 13.   Where was he and what was he up to?  But, sometime after Year 13, Hatshepsut changed her mind and Thutmose began to appear with her on monuments albeit in a secondary position.  Then,  in her Year 21, Hatshepsut, herself, becomes absent from the record.  Under the circumstances, I have to agree with Petty that Thutmose found it convenient to continue the last regnal date of the woman-king.  He may have been the rightful sovereign, but it now seems to me he had been deposed, not merely eclipsed, and was not expected to ever resume his kingship  during a certain period.

William Petty's paper in the journal, Ostracon, "Redating the Reign of Hatshepsut" can be found here:

There he gives an account of the items dated to the years of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut, finding a gap of seven for the former.

Addition of October 30:  There is however, the problem of Thutmose III being depicted at the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.  According to Alberto Siliotti, construction of the temple of Hatshepsut took fifteen years, between years 7 and 22.  Here is where I hit a limestone wall because I have no way of knowing if the depictions of Thutmose are contemporary or retrospective.  For example, he is present in a scene commemorating the famous expedition to Punt in Year 9--but in which year was the scene executed?  Probably not until at very least Year 10 and by then a co-regency may have been restored.  Since I am not familiar with the stages of Djeser Djeseru, I can say no more until I have done more research on the temple.

Monday, October 10, 2011

From Memphis to Gaza--the Road to Conquest

Related to the post, below, is a check of the annals of Thutmose III and his trek with his army from Memphis to Gaza.  Unfortunately, the day in the fourth month of winter that the king set out from his northern capital is not known, but he passed the fortress of Djaru [Sile] , the gateway to Canaan in Year 22, the fourth month of winter Day 25.  It took the pharaoh nine days to reach Gaza from Djaru.

Above:  Thutmose III in middle age by M. Luban

That this is the truth is, ironically, corroborated by a Jewish traveler, Meshullam ben Menachem of Volterra, who made the same trip in 1481 CE.  Thutmose III possibly made his journey in 1482 BCE.  Meshullam, an Italian jeweler, merely wanted to see the Holy Land via Egypt, as he also wished to learn about the  Jews in that country and their number.  The traveler wrote that it was 298 miles from Cairo to Gaza and that was about the distance from ancient Memphis to Gaza, as well.   Meshullam left Cairo on the 4th of July, a time of much greater heat than the departure of Thutmose in the spring.  But Meshullam was not walking and rode donkeys and camels.  He waited  at a place called "Alhanika, that is Rephidim", two miles from Cairo, for a caravan, and left with it at dawn on July 12, reaching Bilbeis in the eastern Delta on the same day.  Meshullam figured that Bilbeis was Goshen.   The caravan left Bilbeis on the 13th of July and  arrived at a small place known as Hatara and from there "entered the desert".   Leaving Hatara, Meshullam and company got as far as Salahia on July 14 where they had to pay a tax [one of many] to the guardian of the roads and riders.  This Salahia is suspiciously Sile, which also once monitored the main way out of Egypt.  [Note of Oct. 11:  An old Encyclopedia Britannica of 1910 confirms this, stating that "Salihia" is just south of Lake Menzala and was the start of a caravan route from Egypt.] There Meshullam remained until the 15 of July and after that continued on to Rivayrar, a spot that meant "wells", according to the traveler.  On the 16th of July Meshullam advanced to Kastaia, " a fine city with many palm trees" and his caravan decided to rest there until Sunday the 18th. 

That same day Meshullam found Bir-Debur "a place of brackish water".  On the 19th El-Arish was reached.  Meshullam sensibly deduced this must be the Succoth of the Torah on account of its name meaning "reed hut".  On the 21st of the month the caravan was at Gaza.   Meshullam's journey from near Cairo to Gaza took nine days but, again, he was not on the march.  The forces of Thutmose III required nine days to reach Gaza from Sile on foot  and they made very good time as it required Meshullam seven days by camel to traverse the same distance.   It is reasonable to think that Thutmose and his men halted and rested at the same places that Meshullam did, although they probably did not have the leisure to sojourn two days at the spot with all the palm trees.   It only required two days for Meshullam of Volterra to get from Cairo to where the desert began and, at most, the pharaoh's army needed four on foot--unless they by some chance had some business to conduct at Avaris in the eastern Delta.  Were it not for that lacuna where it stated the day of departure from Memphis, we might have a pretty good idea if there were any protracted stops along the way to Djaru.  If the army went straight through, it probably left Menphis on the 21st Day of the fourth month of winter.  See my post about "Lemonade" for a description of the winged creatures that bit Meshullam and the men en route. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Biblical Exodus 101

There are a few simple facts to remember about the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt that is described in the second book of the Torah. They are these:

  1. The first plague must have taken place at the very start of the inundation, as only then did the Nile take on a reddish-brown hue, the rains of Ethiopia having washed its red earth downstream into Egypt.
  2. The next nine plagues occur throughout the coming months into  the winter season. The winter crops have been ripening and the Bible, when the wrath of God supposedly brings down hail to destroy the crops, gives a telling clue that it is only sometime in late January or early February because only certain of the crops were ripening and the others had not yet matured.
  3. The legend had it, according to the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, that the exodus took place in the Egyptian month of Pharmouti, the month of threshing, ideally corresponding to April/May. After that month the harvest is done. Pharmouti must also correspond to the Hebrew month of Nisan [by retroactive reckoning] and this only happens during limited periods in Egyptian history. In some years, the 15th of Nisan, the day of the departure, will fall within other months in the Egyptian civil calendar. For example, in 1359 BCE, a year in the reign of Amenhotep III, the 15th of Nisan would fall on Julian 21st of April—but this would amount to 27 Pakhons by the civil calendar.
  4. Nearly all of the ancient historians were convinced that an exodus occurred during the sway of the 18th Dynasty, yet not all agreed as to the reigning pharaoh. But, giving another example, April 3, 1482 BCE, probably a year in the reign of Thutmose III, amounts to 8 Pharmouti and 15 Nisan 2279. I do not know the year in which the Biblical exodus was supposed to have occurred. Perhaps no one did by the time the Book of Exodus was written. However, it is obvious, even from the way the plagues are described, that it had to be in what we call the spring season. Therefore, the Jewish calendar was devised as a lunar-solar one, so that the month of Nisan would always fall in the spring. However, since the Egyptian civil calendar was a lunar one without leap years, this was not the fate of the month of Pharmouti, which could fall within any of the three naturally-occuring seasons of Egypt but was in what we view as the spring only at limited times.