Zahi Hawass, Archaeology and the Exodus
Zahi Hawass (Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania) is an Egyptian archaeologist who is Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs. He has served in a variety of high profile roles including director of excavations at Giza, Saqqara, and the Bahariya Oasis.
Hawass is an outspoken leader of the movement to return to Egypt important ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone and the bust of Nefertiti. Politically controversial, Hawass has been a long-standing opponent of the normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt.
Nevertheless in the field of Egyptology Kahi Hawass is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading activist. He has implemented the systematic preservation and restoration of historical monuments. At the same time he has trained Egyptians to improve their methods of excavation, retrieval and preservation of antiquities.
Recent discoveries by Zahi Hawass
Above: The Step Pyramid of Djoser
Zahi Hawass has been credited with many recent discoveries, including the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya and the Pyramid of Queen Sesheshet, mother of 6th Dynasty Pharaoh Teti, located at Saqqara northwest of the city of Memphis.
Perhaps the most important archeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis (necropolis literally means "dead city") is the Step Pyramid of Djoser. This was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier Imhotep, during the 27th century BC. Djoser was the first or second king of the 3rd Dynasty (ca. 2667 to 2648 BC) of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (ca. 2686 to 2125 BC).
Video Clip: Zahi Hawass Reveals a Glimpse of the Latest Discoveries in Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass Claims Exodus Was a Myth
According to the Torah, the story of the Exodus is the pivotal moment in the creation of the Jewish people. To this day, Jews worldwide celebrate this in annual Passover holiday.
Above: Crossing the Red Sea from the movie, The Ten Commandments (1956)
According to the biblical narrative, Moses was born the son of a Hebrew slave, who cast him into the Nile in a basket so the baby would escape being killed by the pharaoh. He was saved by the pharaoh’s daughter, raised in the royal court, discovered his Hebrew roots and, with divine help, led the Hebrew people to freedom. Moses later climbed Mount Sinai, where God appeared and he received the Ten Commandments.
Visitors to Mount Sinai in Egypt today are sometimes shown a bush by tour guides and told it is the actual bush that burned before Moses.
A growing number of Old Testament scholars question the historical accuracy of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus, because of the alleged lack of historical and archaeological evidence in Egypt. Although many of those advancing these claims are not specialists in the study of Egyptian history and archaeology, Zahi Hawass is.
Hawass contends that archaeologists have never turned up evidence to support the biblical account. He insists there is only one archaeological find that even suggests the Jews were ever in Egypt.
With his infamously "tell-it-like-is" bluntness, Dr. Hawass told reporters from The New York Times in 2007: "Really, it's a myth... If they get upset, I don’t care. This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.”
Some scholars vigorously disagree with Hawass...
Dr. Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, Head of Antiquities of Lower Egypt offers another theory.
Referring to the portion of the story that claims that God parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape then closed the waters on the pursuing army, Maqsoud told reporters, “a pharaoh drowned and a whole army was killed… his is a crisis for Egypt, and Egyptians do not document their crises.”
James K Hoffmeier Ph.D., professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois has reexamined the most current Egyptological evidence. He argues convincingly that it supports the biblical record concerning Israel in Egypt. This exciting research substantially contributes to the discussion on the subject of Israel's presence in Egypt. Hoffmeier affirms the Old Testament as a valuable historical source.
I appreciate the affirmation of Hoffmeier's work in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society as "an important contribution to the study of the Hebrew experience in Egypt. Its two major strengths are the author's powerful refutation of hyper-critical views on the narrative and his presentation of the latest Egyptological data."
Ancient Egypt Unearthed
Dr. Hawass has appeared on television specials on channels such as the National Geographic Channel, the History Channel and Discovery Channel. He has also been a National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence grant recipient
Ancient Egypt Unearthed is the acclaimed Discovery Channel documentary on the history, mythology and culture of ancient Egypt featuring Zahi Hawass.
Click on the DVD cover to order this DVD series.
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