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Egyptian researchers digitally unwrap the mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, the pharaoh of the Exodus?


Limestone statue of Amenhotep I at the British Museum in London.
Credit: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)/Wikipedia/Creative Commons 4.0

Over Christmas, Egyptian researchers digitally unwrapped the mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who ruled Egypt between 1526 and 1506 BC.

He was the second ruler of what is referred to as the 18th Egyptian dynasty, started by his father Ahmose.

Amenhotep is the only royal mummy from the 19th and 20th century discoveries not to be unwrapped. Egyptian researchers had refrained from physically doing this because the mummy was intricately decorated with floral arrangements and a mask embedded with precious stones.

So they chose a digital approach, using an X-Ray machine that provided 360-degree scans as they digitally removed each layer.

Through the unwrapping process, the Cairo-based researchers discovered that Amenhotep I had been unwrapped and reburied at least once before, probably by later Egyptian priests who often repaired the damage done to previous royal mummies by grave robbers.

They discovered that Amenhotep I was around 35 years of age when he died and there were no outward indicators of what he died from such as disease or physical wounds. He was also the last of the Egyptian royal mummies to have his brain left inside the body

Amenhotep was 5′ 7″ in height. He had curly hair, a complete set of mildly protruding teeth, and similar to his father a narrow chin and small nose.

So what makes Amenhotep interesting is that I believe he was the Pharaoh during Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.

Despite movies to the contrary, Biblical scholars are certain of one thing, Ramses was NOT the pharaoh of the Exodus.

But there is disagreement on whom it actually was, with many suggesting it was Amenhotep III who ruled between 1386 and 1350 BC.

But I am convinced it was Amenhotep I because he fits the criteria in several ways:

His father was Ahmose

Prior to the arrival of Ahmose, the Hyksos had invaded and taken over northern Egypt, where they ruled for 200 years.

They drove the Egyptian government out of the Nile Delta into the south and forced them to pay tribute. The Hyksos assumed the Egyptian ways, including naming their leaders Pharaohs.

The arrival of the Hyksos explains how Joseph, who was also Semitic and had a similar language and culture, rose to second in command in Egypt.

In 1550 BC, the Egyptians, under Ahmose, were finally able to drive the Hyksos out of Northern Egypt and this is referred to in Exodus 1:8:

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

Ahmose did not know Joseph and his family because they were Semitic and arrived during the Hyksos rule. This is also why he is referred to as a new king. He was different from the previous Semitic rulers.

And having just defeated the Hyksos, the pharaoh subjected the Hebrews to slavery because he was concerned they would join with the Hyksos if they tried to retake northern Egypt (Exodus 1:9-10).

The extended time span

We know that the pharaoh of the Exodus was not Ahmose, because several years would pass before Moses would deliver Israel from Egypt. He would be raised in the Pharaoh’s home and spend several years in the wilderness after killing the Egyptian guard.

So most likely, the Exodus occurred during the reign of Ahmose’s son, Amenhotep.

Ahmhontep was the third son

It was also unusual that Amenhotep, who was Ahmose’s third son, succeeded as Pharaoh. Normally this is reserved for the firstborn. It is uncertain as to why this happened.

But this is referenced in the final plague of Egypt, the death of the firstborn. Though a member of the pharaoh’s family died during the plague, the pharaoh did not, meaning he was not the firstborn son of the previous pharaoh (Exodus 12:29-32).

The death of Amenhotep’s son

We know that the Pharaoh’s son died in the plague of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29), which forced Amenhotep to finally allow the Hebrews to leave. The archaeological records showed that Amenhotep’s son died as an infant and that the pharaoh had no more children before his death.

How did Amenhotep die?

The Egyptian archaeologists noted that Amenhotep died at the young age of 35 and there were no outward indicators of how he died.

Though the Bible does not explicitly mention that the Pharaoh died when his army drowned as the walls of the parted Red Sea collapsed upon them, we know that the Pharaoh had joined the pursuit:

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. (Exodus 14:5-7 ESV)

Dying by drowning would not leave an outward mark.

And we know that the bodies of the dead Egyptian soldiers washed up on the shore of the Red Sea in the days following (Exodus 14: 30), which explained why they were able to retrieve Amenhotep’s body.

READ: Mummy of Amenhotep I is ‘digitally unwrapped’ for the first time: CT scans reveal the Egyptian Pharaoh was some 35 years old, 5’7″ and circumcised when he died 3,000 years ago AND Egypt ‘digitally unwraps’ mummy of famed pharaoh

I did a more detailed podcast on why I think Amenhotep is the Pharaoh of the Exodus, where I also specifically address the mystery of the Egyptian guard:

13 | What is so mysterious about an Egyptian guard?

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