My book Thera and the Exodus has now been available at Amazon and other online stores since February 2013 and I initially presented several articles based on my book on my website, with the intent of giving potential readers a taste of what they might expect in the book. However, I feel that these articles no longer serve any purpose and after some positive but mostly negative feedback for reasons I discuss in Section 2.2 below, I feel obliged to make a statement about and pose a challenge or two to my critics. Hence, "A Final Word (for now)". Since the publication of the bookI had another look at the identification of Nefertiti as the elusive Smenkhkare and present some new ideas in Section 2.3. Book reviews are listed in Section 2.4.
2.1 Thera and the Exodus order details
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2.2 Thera and the Exodus - A Final Word (for now)
I have to confess that I was (and will probably continue to be) astounded by the lack of interest from especially scholars in the field, despite my theories being well defended and referenced. I soon learned that the main reason for this apathy is the radiocarbon dating of the eruption of Thera (modern Santorini) to ca. 1613 ±13 years BCE, which predates not only the conventional dates of the Exodus, but also my proposed date of the reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1360 BCE, by about 250 years. In the words of Eric Cline on the possibility of a link between the eruption of Thera and the Exodus,
"Yes, there's a consesus - it ain't true. ... The problem is the dating ... It cannot be connected, no matter what .. I can see why you're saying this, and here's why it's just not gonna work ..."
When I wrote Thera and the Exodus I made the mistake which scholars in this field appear to be making - having absolute blind faith in science. Due to the published accuracy of the radiocarbon date (±13/(1613+2013) = ±0.36%, I assumed that there was no question about this date and that a second eruption must therefore have occurred long after the 1613 BCE eruption, during the reign of Amenhotep III. As proof I pointed out that the discrete fragments of solidified volcanic ash from Thera found among the tsunami deposits at Crete clearly indicate that two separate eruptions must have occurred, as it would take many decades if not a century or two for the ash to solidify (see Chapter 18).
Due to the largely negative feedback I received on my book, most of it due to the radiocarbon dating of the eruption, I decided to take a closer look at the method of radiocarbon dating itself. It is essentially based on the measurement of the ratio of the unstable carbon-14 to the stable carbon-12 isotopes in organic matter, which can nowadays be measured within an accuracy of 0.2%. The uncalibrated date of the eruption of Thera is coincidentally very close to 1360 BCE, but scientists have long noted discrepancies between radiocarbon dating and other dating methods and have subsequently introduced calibration curves for correcting the raw radiocarbon dates. However, there is a host of assumptions on which this process is based. Are all of these assumptions accurate to within 0.36% (actually, they all need to be significantly more accurate for the net result to be within 0.36%)? Even though 250 years is a huge gap in terms of years, in the radiocarbon dating formula it amounts to a difference of only 3% in the C-14/C-12 ratio. Can radiocarbon scientists guarantee that the C-14/C-12 ratio at the time of the eruption was what they assume it to be today, with an accuracy of significantly better than 3%, everywhere around the world, and at vastly different altitudes and environments? They have of course conducted numerous checks on the validity of these assumptions and appear to be 100% confident that they can indeed achieve accuracies in the range of a fraction of a percent. With that, radiocarbon scientists and Egyptologists alike seem to simply dismiss any link between the eruption of Thera and the plagues of Egypt as pure fantasy.
However, if that is true, they (and also my critics at the forums on which I presented my work) have simply no logical explanation for the following:
The plagues of Egypt
There are numerous aspects of the biblical plagues of Egypt that cannot be explained in any manner other than having been caused by a volcanic eruption. These include the 'wall(s) of water' (tsunami), the ash like soot from a fire that descended upon Egypt and which was so thick that people could neither see (the plague of darkness) and hardly breathe (dense volcanic ash), the discolouring of the water all across Egypt (the result of the ash fallout), the pillar of cloud by day which turned into a pillar of fire by night (the ash cloud of a volcano), rocks with fire inside falling upon Egypt (volcanic rock blown into the atmosphere and falling upon Egypt), a sonic boom as recorded in the Koran, a path through the sea on which the Israelites escaped from Egypt (the Lake Manzala land bridge through the sea) and the horrific plague of boils caused specifically by the soot from Moses' furnace (a typical result of volcanic ash).
So, if the eruption of Thera occurred 200 to 250 years before the Exodus, how would the legends about the plagues have come into existence if nobody in Israel or Egypt had ever witnessed a volcanic eruption ? And how would they have been able to describe the after-effects of a volcanic eruption so accurately? And why apply it to the Israelites in Egypt? There is only one explanation - they witnessed it first-hand.
When did it happen?
The vast majority of modern scientists and Egyptologists seem to reject the notion that an Exodus had occurred at all. Manetho tells us that the Exodus event occurred during the reign of a pharaoh called Amenophis, who had a scribe of the same name. Manetho is therefore telling us that the pharaoh in question was Amenhotep III, who had famous a scribe called Amenhotep the son of Hapu. Graham Phillips recognised that the only set of circumstances in the Egyptian chronology that would match the circumstances of Moses in Egypt, was that of the household of Amenhotep III. His firstborn son, Crown Prince Tuthmosis, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, closely matches the biblical Moses. In my book I present several arguments that prove this identification of Moses. For instance, has not one scholar or Egyptologist ever noticed that both Crown Prince Tuthmosis and Moses officiated at the first ceremonial burial of the Apis bull ? Manetho informs us that Moses sent messengers to the Hyksos kings in Jerusalem, inviting them to invade Egypt and join him in his fight against Amenhotep, which they did. The same event is described in practically identical fashion in the EL Arish Shrine text, where the person who sent the messengers to the Asiatics 'in their land' is called Seb, the son of king Shu, the ruler of Egypt. In my book I show that in those times the royal family members of Egypt were often given the names of ancient gods of Egypt. Has not one scholar ever noticed this common aspect of these two narratives ? Probably not, as they all seem to be convinced that the EL Arish Shrine text is simply a fairy tale concocted by an Egyptian priest or scribe. In Thera and the Exodus I show that the EL Arish Shrine text confirms several aspects of Manetho's version of the Exodus, including the violence used against the queen (Nefertiti) and the disappearance of King Shu's army (Amenhotep's retreat into Ethiopia with his officials and the entire Egyptian army for 13 'fatally determined' years, and the biblical story of the entire Egyptian army having been drowned in the sea).
Again I have to ask the learned professors - where did all these stories come from? How is it possible that they could share so many distinctive points, if not based on the truth?
About Joseph being Yuya and Saul being Labayu
Whenever a controversial claim is made in each and every field of study, it is guaranteed that its opponents will fiercely attempt to destroy its credibility. One such claim was made by Ahmed Osman in his book Stranger in the Valley of the Kings. In this book he argues that the biblical Joseph was none other than the Egyptian official called Yuya, who had a very close relationship with Amenhotep III. The vast majority of the arguments he uses in the book cannot be refuted directly, so to counter them it is usually argued that the specific attributes he identifies as unique to Yuya and Joseph, can apply to anyone in any of the Egyptian households. One particularly strong argument against Yuya being Joseph is that there appears to be no mention of the fact that Yuya's daughter Tiye became the wife of Amenhotep III and queen of Egypt. Surely that would have been remembered by the Jews? It seems that the critics of Yuya's theory are blissfully unaware of the legend of Joseph and Asenath, his wife, who supposedly ruled Egypt for 48 years. As Amenhotep III's right hand Joseph did effectively co-rule Egypt with the king, so vast were the powers the king had allotted him. And Asenath? It was not Asenath, but Tiye, who had married Amenhotep III at a young age and was still alive during the so-called Amarna era. The conventional duration of Amenhotep III's rule is assumed to be 38 years, but if he had fled to Ethiopia as claimed by Manetho (Amenhotep littered Ethiopia with his monuments, no doubt to mark it as his territory), he could easily have lived for another ten years. Tiye was alive for most of that time, hence the legend of Joseph and 'Asenath'. Simply put, a woman related to Joseph ruled Egypt for 48 years - it could not have been anyone but Tiye.
Crown Prince Tuthmosis was Yuya's grandson, which appears to disqualify Tuthmosis as the biblical Moses. According to the Old Testament several hundred years passed between Joseph arriving in Egypt and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. However, two ancient historians independently make Joseph and Moses contemporaries. In one instance both of them are made priests (both Yuya and Crown Prince Tuthmosis were Egyptian priests), and in the other Moses is the son of Joseph. He was in fact not the son but the grandson of Joseph. So, it would appear that the long time span between Moses and Joseph was either a simple error by the Old Testament scribe or scribes, or perhaps a lie deliberately introduced to distance Moses from Crown Prince Tuthmosis.
In his book A Test of Time David Rohl systematically identifies Labayu as the biblical Saul and a person named Dadua as the biblical David. Since Labayu was an Amarna contemporary, Rohl then moves the Amarna era later in time to the generally accepted era of the United Monarchy of Israel ca. 1000 BCE. His revised timeline has almost universally been rejected by academics. However, if we move the United Monarchy earlier in time to the Amarna era, numerous other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The link between Labayu and Saul has been rejected by several scholars, amongst others who noted that the areas in which the two kings were active differ. This discrepancy could be nothing more than an error by either of the two scribes, but the other exploits in their lives match closely. Perhaps the most important of all is that Labayu, like Saul, is furious at his son joining his enemy. This event is like a fingerprint in time - how can it be explained away? In fact, in an article called Saul, the Last Labayu the renowned archeologist Israel Finkelstein states "I see a great deal of similarity between Sechem under Labayu and his sons in the 14th century and the Saul territorial entity in the 10th century B.C.E", yet rejects identification of one with the other on archaeological grounds. Would he put his head on the block that these two kings were not the same person? And is archaeology infallible? Apparently not, as Finkelstein himself had to revise the very dating he had proposed for so long.
If Saul and Labayu were Amarna contemporaries, so would Solomon have been, and also his Queen of Sheba. Josephus calls this queen the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, which scholars reject as an error by Josephus. But what if Sheba was a person, i.e. the Queen of Sheba was Sheba's queen (of Egypt)? Has no one ever considered this possibility? There was a very famous Sheba who was in fact a mortal enemy of David, and he could very well have been the father of Bathsheba, the wife David took from Uriah. David had her newborn son murdered, but she must have sent her young daughters to Joseph in Egypt to protect them from David. Messengers were sent between the Queen of Egypt and the king of Jerusalem, matching Manetho's account of messengers being sent to Jerusalem. If the Queen of Sheba was indeed the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, who ruled during the Amrana era, she could not have been anyone else but Nefertiti. How many scholars are aware of the Arabic document called The History of the Queen of Sheba? This document supports my theory in basically all respects, from Nefertiti being raised by Yuya as Joseph, to a popular revolt against the tyrant king and a treacherous banquet at which she murdered this king. It would seem that this legend too is regarded as nothing more than fantasy in academic circles. If so, how can the common thread between all these legends, as I point out in my book, be explained away?
Some other points of interest
Jehova supposedly revealed himself to Moses in a burning bush. What could the origin of this insane legend be? In my book I present proof that Moses, along with all the other firstborn children in Egypt, was to be sacrificed in a fire to appease the perceived anger of the gods, who wre punishing Egypt with a devastating plague. In fact, whereas the Bible attempts to create the impression that the Egyptians woke up one morning to find all of their firstborn deceased, Jewish legend tells us that they knew very well about the impending death of their children and attempted to hide them. In the end the Egyptian army had to be called in to ensure that their firstborn could not escape death. The only conclusion? These children were executed as commanded by the king (and his high priest). If this was not what had actually happened, how do scholars explain the story of the burning bush?
Regarding the identity of the legendary Egyptian king Sesostris, has any scholar ever considered the possibility that the name may be of Greek origin? It seems that scholars universally and without thinking twice identify Sesostris with Senusret, a Twelfth Dynasty king of Egypt, as also done by the Egyptian historian Manetho. There is of course a vague phonetic similarity between the names, but in my book I show that the name Sesostris, as well as its other forms Sesonchosis and Sesoosis, can all be translated directly from Greek (Sesostris = Se-sos-tris, meaning You-and-Yours-the-Third, an appelation earned by the Tuthmosid family who carried off entire nations, with their belongings, to work as slaves in Egypt), and that many of Sesostris' attributes closely match those of Tuthmosis III, probably the greatest ever of Egypt's pharaohs. I also show that some of the legends attributed to Sesostris actually relate to Amenhotep III, often called Egypt's Golden Pharaoh and like Tuthmosis the third ruler in his family.
I assume the most effective way to dispel any new theories which do not fit the conventional mould is to ignore them.
How to read Thera and the Exodus
I wrote Thera and the Exodus for a wide spectrum of readers, from those unfamiliar with Old Testament history to scholars in the field. That made the presentation of the book rather difficult and it will not read like a novel. For those of you who are not familiar with reading books of this type, I would recommend that you read it slowly at your leisure, and have a notebook at hand in which you can jot down whatever you wish to remember or read up again later, by page number. Apart from the Contents at the beginning, there is also a detailed Index at the back of the book, which should assist you in finding most of the important topics I deal with in the book. There is no need to check each reference in the text, as these are meant only to indicate where I got my information from. There are no additional comments in the references, as some authors like to do.
In case some of you should feel intimidated by the amount of information you have to digest without being and expert in this field, rest assured that ancient history is no longer the exclusive domain of university professors. The Internet has brought all the information we might need to the tips of our fingers, and all one needs to do is familiarise yourself with the basic facts, weigh up the different theories and make up your own mind, without relying on the learned others to do so on your behalf!
2.3 Nefetiti vs Smenkhkare in Pictures
A key aspect the unfolding of my theory of the Amarna events is the identification of the king called Smenkhkare as Nefertiti. This is the opinion of Nicholas Reeves and others, as discussed in my book Thera and the Exodus, but what I would like to do in this article is to show, in pictures, that there was a queen who ruled Egypt during the Amarna era and that she was no other person than Nefertiti. From a visual perspective this can only be done by showing that the images that are normally associated with Smenkhkare can be identified with other rulers of Egypt.
The collage below shows images of royal couples from the Amarna era. All the images without the red border are related to Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti. Those with a red border are usually identified with other persons, namely the male Smenkhkare and Meritaten (Figure 1) and Tutankhamun and his queen Ankhesenamun (Figure 2, image from the back of Tutankhamun’s golden throne). The images in Figures 131 to 152 are often assumed to represent Smenkhkare and his wife Meritaten. Note that Figures 8 and 13-15 do not appear in Thera and the Exodus. Before going into the details, it should be noted that all the persons in the images are wearing royal clothing of some kind, either as crowns or as the royal regalia draped around their shoulders. In other words, they represent kings and queens of Egypt.
The following similarities between the various images can be observed:
The royal couple in Figure 1.
X-ray of Tutankhamun’s mummy
The royal couple in Figure 2.
Build and posture
Smenkhkare and Meritaten in Figure 13
Table 11.3 (from Thera and the Exodus)
The images presented above depict devoted royal couples wearing the exact same clothing, regalia, wigs and crowns and having the same build and relative height. Other legends (e.g. about the Queen of Sheba) and evidence (the letter to the king of the Hittites) confirm that Egypt was ruled by a queen during the latter stages of the Amarna period, and that queen would have been Nefertiti. The images above all appear to show either Akhenaten and Nefertiti or Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun, but not a male king named Smenkhkare.
Manetho lists the rulers from Amenhotep III as Orus (Amenhotep III), Acenchres his daughter (in law - Nefertiti), Rathotis (Tutankhamun), and two successive rulers named Acencheres (Table 11.2 in Thera and the Exodus), one of which must have been Akhenaten. In drafting my list of the Amarna kings (Table 11.3), I assumed that Manetho must have introduced an additional Acencheres due to the confusion regarding the Amarna period, but what if he was correct? It would then imply that the modern chronology of the Amarna era probably has to be changed to read:
Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb.
2.4 Thera and the Exodus reviews
ForeWord Clarion Review: Four stars (out of Five)
His work, Thera and the Exodus, is not antireligious; to the contrary, it is a well-organized, scholarly, richly illustrated, and heavily footnoted effort to prove that the great migration of the Jewish people out of Egypt under Moses did occur. ... Even if readers disagree with the conclusions Booysen puts forth ... those who like their Bible more for history than theology will greatly appreciate and thoroughly enjoy Thera and the Exodus. Booysen’s grasp of, and evident enthusiasm for, Egyptology in particular is evident. He has delved deep into the history, legend, and archaeological evidence of the land of the pharaohs, and any who share his interests will find this book utterly fascinating and engrossing.
Read full review here
Riaan has been selected as Graham Hancock's Author of the Month for May 2013
"We are both pleased and honoured to welcome as May 2013 Author of the Month, Riaan Booysen. Please join Riaan on the AoM Message Boards this month, to discuss his new book Thera and the Exodus>, in which he researches and makes the case linking two ancient volcanic eruptions on the Mediterranean island of Thera (modern Santorini), with the biblical story of the Exodus. It’s fascinating work and reading that demands attention."
Read more here
Amazon customer review: Five stars (out of Five)
"Interesting combo of history and archeology - You will never think of history in the same way again. Thera (now called Santorini) was a monster of a Greek volcano which erupted circa 1500 B.C. and 1350 B.C. A great read."
Midwest Book Review - Highly Recommended
The history behind the events of the Bible is curious, trying to find reality in fact. "Thera and the Exodus: The Exodus explained in Terms of Natural Phenomena and the Human Response to It" is an intriguing and different interpretation of the Biblical story of Exodus. Riaan Booysen seeks to tell the story of the Thera volcano's unrest, and how the Amenhotep III, ordered a sacrifice of all the first born to appease the Gods, and how his own first born was saved...and that this son would become Moses. An intriguing take on the legend trying to connect human nature with natural history, "Thera and the Exodus" is an enticing read for a different take on ancient history, highly recommended.