Remains in good condition found of a previously undiscovered ancient pyramid south of Cairo, Egypt. (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. – Daniel 2:22 (ESV)
Early evidence points to the likelihood that a discovery of a “new” pyramid in Dahshur, south of Cairo, Egypt, may be from the 13th Dynasty of kings. Much more excavation and study are planned. At this time, archaeologists believe that the pyramid is about 3,700 years old (based on the conventional timeline), but are not sure for which rulers’ family it was built.
The new pyramid was found near the royal necropolis that was used during both the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Egypt. This area also contains the famous Bent Pyramid (named for its construction style) and the Red Pyramid, which were built during the reign of the Old Kingdom’s Pharaoh Sneferu. While researchers are not yet sure who is buried in the pyramid; other pyramids in Dahshur have contained remains of high-ranking courtiers.
It is believed that this “new” pyramid was built about 900 years after the Bent pyramid, which was a precursor to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Some reports have noted that the date of the new pyramid may align with the time of the Exodus (more on that below).
Corridor inside the “new” Dahshur pyramid.. (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
There is little known about the 13th Dynasty compared to other eras in ancient Egypt’s history, but this well-preserved pyramid may provide more pieces of evidence to the puzzle.
Outer Remains of the pyramid.. (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
Adel Okasha, the head of Dahshur Necropolis, said that the remains belong to the inner structure of the pyramid, including a corridor. An alabaster block, measuring 15 cm by 17 cm with engravings of a 10-line vertical hieroglyph was also found and is still being studied. Another early discovery is that of a granite lintel and a collection of stone blocks that indicate the interior design of the pyramid.
Archaeologists are studying the hieroglyphics found on this alabaster block. (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
As noted in an article published by Mada, an Egyptian Media organization, the vast majority of Egypt’s pyramids (estimated at between 118 to 138) were constructed between the 3rd and 12th dynasties (around 2700-1800 BC under conventional dates). Only a few were built during the 13th Dynasty, which witnessed the last pyramids. In the New Kingdom (dynasties 18-20), pharaohs no longer made pyramids for their tombs.
The pyramids of the 12th and 13th dynasties were constructed differently than earlier ones. While the pyramids of the Old Kingdom (made in dynasties 3-6) had a core of cut limestone blocks, those of the Middle Kingdom (made in dynasties 12-13) were made of mudbrick with an outer casing of limestone.
The 13th Dynasty is of particular interest in the search for the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. As seen in the film and book Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, a pattern of remarkable evidence fitting the major events of the Bible’s Exodus account exists in Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (12th and 13th dynasties). Such conditions are lacking in the traditional New Kingdom Exodus periods of the mid 18th Dynasty (about 1450 BC in conventional dating) or the mid 19th Dynasty at the time of Ramesses II (about 1250 BC in the conventional scheme).
The lack of evidence at the leading dates has caused great skepticism about the Exodus among most archaeologists. However, some scholars, such as Egyptologist David Rohl, have proposed that a dramatic reduction of Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period (or dark period) is needed, which would pull the late 13th Dynasty forward in time – into the 1400s BC – centuries later than the dates assigned to it within the conventional system.
Critics of the idea of shifting the dates for Egypt’s Kingdoms typically claim that the traditional dating is so firmly established that such a large revision is impossible. Nonetheless, amazing discoveries in recent decades highlight that our knowledge of ancient history, especially in the dark periods, is far from complete. These discoveries include new pyramids, new pharaohs (and potentially a new dynasty), and even a massive and mysterious graveyard containing more than a million bodies from many different periods of Egypt’s history, yet no large city in the vicinity. In future projects, Patterns of Evidence hopes to investigate a growing body of evidence suggesting that major problems exist with the standard dating.
Tim Mahoney in Egypt investigating mudbricks made with straw for Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus.
Using straw in the construction of mudbricks makes them stronger.
The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ – Exodus 5:6-8 (ESV)
Pyramids made of mudbricks provide an interesting potential connection with the Exodus. If Hebrew slaves were included in the pyramid workforce during the 13th Dynasty, they would have mainly been working with mudbricks, not stone blocks. Mudbricks were used in different types of construction throughout Egypt’s history, but in the Middle Kingdom the demand for mudbricks to construct the massive pyramids would have been inordinately high. This fits the Bible’s emphasis of the Israelites’ producing mudbricks in their forced labor for Pharaoh. Could this be one more factor pointing to the Exodus occurring at this time?
As details emerge based upon further study, keep an eye on assumptions made and dating applied to these new finds – and what that might mean for the different Exodus theories.