Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

New discoveries in the land of Goshen

The storage city of Rameses was identified with Tanis in the past, but it is now identified with Tell el Daba in the eastern Nile Delta. Here is what the Bible says about Rameses in the land of Goshen:

  • It is called the land of Rameses (Genesis 47:11).
  • The Israelites built the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11).
  • Rameses was the starting point of Israel’s exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:3, 5).

Prof. Dr. Manfred Bietak.

Prof. Dr. Manfred Bietak

Austrian archaeologists, under the direction of Professor Dr. Manfred Bietak and Irene Forstner-Mueller, have been working at Tell el Daba for several years. The history of this area may be divided into three periods:

  • Pre-Hyksos, when the city was named Rowaty (the door of the two roads).
  • Hyksos (about 1663-1555 B.C.), when the city was named Avaris.
  • Post-Hyksos, when the city was named Peru-nefer (happy journey).

The excavators recently uncovered a cuneiform letter written in southern Mesopotamian style. It is thought to date to the time of the Old Babylonian Kingdom of Hammurabi. The news release indicates a date of about 1600-1550 B.C. This illustrates a significant contact between Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Cuneiform Tablet from Tell el Daba.

Babylonian Cuneiform Tablet from Tell el Daba in the land of Goshen.

A second discovery was the burial of a horse, a mare likely used for breeding. Horses were introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos. The location of the burial near the palace of the Hyksos king Khayan suggests that this mare was a pet of the king.

Hyksos horse skeleton discovered at Tell el Daba.

Hyksos horse skeleton discovered at Tell el Daba.

The complete news release may be read in German here. Photos Copyright: Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut (ÖAI) Kairo. I had the pleasure of visiting Tell el Daba in January, 2009.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer