Digging up the past

Chapter 1 Land of the pyramids

Exodus from Kahun

Sir Flinders Petrie excavated in the Faiyum from 1880 onwards and in 1986 Dr Rosalie of the Manchester Museum reviewed his work there. She published this review in "The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt". Chapter 7 is titled "The Foreign Population at Kahun".

On page 191 she wrote:
"It is apparent that the Asiatics were present in the town (Kahun) in some numbers and this may have reflected the situation elsewhere in Egypt. It can be stated that these people were loosely classed as `Asiatics', although their exact homeland in Syria or Palestine cannot be determined ... The reason for their presence remains unclear".

Both Petrie and David assumed the traditional dates and did not associate these migrants with the Israelites, but by the revised dates the Israelites' identification would be obvious.

One curious discovery made by Petrie was of large "wooden boxes ... underneath the floors of many houses at Kahun. They contained babies, sometimes buried two or three to a box, and aged only a few months at death". This would be consistent with the record, that Pharaoh decreed that all the male children were to be killed at birth, (Exodus 1:16), though some mothers managed to protect their babes until they were a few months old, (Exodus 2:3).

Dr. Rosalie David and her groundbreaking book on the Kahun Exodus

Home burial boxes for Israelite babies

Israel fled Egypt under God's command

The most striking feature of this slavery was their sudden disappearance from the scene


David wrote, (page 199) 'The quantity, range and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind in the houses may indeed suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated' (page 199).

According to the chronology provided in 1 Kings 6:1, the Exodus occurred about 1,445 BC. That would be soon after the end of the 12th dynasty. Moses would have been born during the reign of Amenemhat III who had no surviving sons, and only one daughter, Sebekneferu, who was childless.
This would explain why she was bathing at the river instead of in her palace.
She would have been praying to the Nile god Hapi, who was also the fertility god She would have seen the baby in the bulrushes as an answer to her prayer, and proposed to make him her son and heir to the throne.

But when Moses was 40 years old he murdered an Egyptian who was ill-treating an Israelite. When Pharaoh heard of the incident Moses was obliged to flee. This left Amenemhet without an heir. When his daughter died the dynasty came to an end, to be replaced by the 13th Dynasty.

Baby Moses rescued from the bulrushes by Sobekneferu

Nile fertility god, Hapi