Daily Archives: March 8, 2011

Pharaoh’s chariot wheels and other things that won’t float — Examining the claims of the late Ron Wyatt

The late Ron Wyatt is noted for his fabulous claims to have located just about every secret thing there is, including Noah’s Ark, the location of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain, Mount Sinai, the location of the crossing of the Red Sea, wheels from Pharaoh’s chariots, the ashes of the red heifer, the ark of the covenant, etc., etc., etc.

Standish and Standish, two Seventh Day Adventist researchers, wrote a response to Wyatt, who was also a Seventh Day Adventist. In Holy Relics or Revelation, they give a list of 92 things Wyatt claimed to have found. This book is available at Amazon, and is partially available online at Google Books.

Ron Wyatt (1933-1999) was a nurse-anesthetist with no training in archaeology. We might more correctly call him an explorer. Few famous, recognized archaeologists have more than one or two fabulous finds to their credit, but Wyatt found almost everything that was missing!

Typically I receive several Emails each year asking about some of the claims of Wyatt, though they do not always mention his name. Recently I received a PowerPoint presentation attached to the Email. The presentation is entitled “Moses & the Red Sea Crossing Truth or Fiction?” Of course, I believe Moses led the developing nation of Israel through the sea. No one takes credit for producing the presentation. There is no documentation other than Scripture references. Looking at the “Properties” of the presentation that someone borrowed a template from some other presentation.

The Claim

The presentation includes a map showing Succoth immediately north of the Gulf of Suez. That is the wrong position. Israel then traveled across the Sinai peninsula through a wadi running east toward Eilat/Aqaba, then southerly to Nuweiba on the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat). This, according to Wyatt, is exactly where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea out of Egypt (he considered the Sinai peninsula as Egypt) into the wilderness on the east of the Gulf of Aqaba. This is necessary to place Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia. Wyatt did some scuba diving and found Pharaoh’s chariot wheels, chariot bodies, human and horse bones.

The photo below is one I took in the vicinity of Nuweiba January 26, 2011. The view is east from the Sinai Peninsula to Saudi Arabia. This point is about 160 miles on a straight line from where the presentation map shows Israel leaving Succoth. It is about 45 miles south of Eilat/Aqaba. Eilat is in Israel; Aqaba is in Jordan. Even the modern roads in the Sinai are not built on a straight line.

So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. (Exo 14:6-9 NAU)

Think about it. A large, powerful, professional Egyptian army had to chase “about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children” (Exodus 12:37-38). The Israelites also had their “flocks and herds” and “a very large number of livestock” with them. Yet, the Egyptians could not catch them for more than 160 miles!

Peninsula east to Saudi Arabia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View from Sinai Peninsula east to Saudi Arabia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I don’t have the time now to do more, but I have located some articles that raise serious questions about Wyatt’s claims. Wyatt was never taken seriously by archaeologists (whether conservative or liberal).

Being Certain About What is Uncertain

Carl Rasmussen comments on the scholarly divide concerning landmarks like the Red Sea and Mount Sinai:

Indeed there are at least ten different proposals for the location of the Red Sea or Reed Sea — including three lakes near the Mediterranean Sea, five lakes along the line of the present-day Suez Canal, as well as the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Elath. In addition, there are at least twelve different candidates for Mount Sinai: five in the southern part of the peninsula, four in the north, one in the center, one in Midian (Saudi Arabia), and another in Edom (southern Transjordan). (Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, Rev. Ed., 103).

Responses to Wyatt

Wyatt was a Seventh Day Adventist, but when he was actively making his claims several Seventh Day Adventists scholars took up pen to respond to him. We have already mentioned the book by Standish and Standish.

Dr. David Merling

Dr. David Merling

Dr. David Merling is currently Research Associate in Near Eastern Archaeology at Andrews University, Institute of Archaeology, Berrien Springs, MI. For a number of years he served as Curator of the Horn Archaeological Museum. During the 1990s Merling wrote a number of short articles responding to the claims of Ron Wyatt. These have been archived on the Andrews University web site. Merling discusses the following questions:

  • Who am I and why have I opened this Web site? He explains something about his credentials and states that he has been asked these questions “over and over again.” His comments were last updated in 2006.
  • Has Noah’s ark been found?
  • Ark of the Covenant, has it been found?
  • Did the Israelites cross the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aqaba? This is the specific question that we are now discussing.

You may find Dr. Merling’s material here.

The page dealing with the question of the Red Sea crossing includes maps showing the difference between what the Bible says and what Wyatt claimed. There is also a photo of the column that Wyatt claims is from the time of Solomon. Merling shows that it is from the time of Jesus [Roman], and unlike columns from the time of Solomon.

In another post we will mention more material responding to Wyatt and other pseudo-archaeologists.