Ahmed Osman: No Stranger to Revisionist PaleoBabble

Ahmed Osman has authored a number of books promoting fringe revisionist history with respect to ancient Egypt and the Bible (basically, the intersection of the two). His books have apparently sold well (no surprise there). Here are some titles (I love the one with the word “brilliant” in it – how humble):

* Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: Solving the Mystery of an Ancient Egyptian Mummy (1987)
alternate edition: Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: The Identification of Yuya as the Patriarch Joseph (1988)
alternate edition: Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt: The Secret Lineage of the Patriarch Joseph (2003)
* Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt: The Mystery of Akhenaten Resolved (1990)
alternate edition: Moses and Akhenaten: The Secret History of Egypt at the Time of the Exodus (2002)
* The House of the Messiah: Controversial Revelations on the Historical Jesus (1992)
alternate edition: The House of the Messiah: A Brilliant New Solution to the Enduring Mystery of the Historical Jesus (1994)
alternate edition: Jesus in the House of the Pharaohs: The Essene Revelations on the Historical Jesus (2004)
* Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed (1999)
* Out of Egypt: Embracing the Roots of Western Theology (2001-2)
* Christianity: An Ancient Egyptian Religion (2005)

It’s pretty evident by the titles that Osman is a fringe pseudo-historian of which PaleoBabble readers should take note. His message is, like so many other fringe researchers, “everything you thought you knew about the subjects I’m writing about is wrong.” The  message to Osman by those real scholars who have reviewed his books is similar: “Basically every revisionist position you espouse is demonstrably wrong.”

I offer here two examples. First, there is this 1992 review in the Jewish Quarterly Review of Osman’s book “Stranger in the Valley of the Kings” (had Osman’s book been found there, it would have indeed been stranger than anything else). This review tries to be gracious, but it’s a thorough dismantling of Osman’s work. The review by Egyptologist Donald Redford (excerpted below from BAR 15:2) is anything but. It’s brutal. Can’t say it isn’t deserved.

Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: The Identification of Yuya as the Patriarch Joseph, Ahmed Osman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988); Reviewed by Donald B. Redford

This ingenious work is one of those books whose author inexplicably fails to do his homework in one part, and lets his critical judgment lapse in the other. Sadly, Mr. Osman has no new evidence to offer, nor any new reconstruction of history other than that which, at one time or another, has suggested itself to many an undergraduate, only to be dismissed upon sober reflection. I find myself wondering, then, why Mr. Osman felt obliged to write the book at all. But he did write it, and my remarks are directed toward those who might be misled into taking it seriously.

The author seems to accept (p. 117) the notion that the Exodus must have taken place early in the XIXth Dynasty (1307–1196 B.C.). Accepting a four-generation span for the sojourn in the desert on the basis of Genesis 15:16 (“And they shall return here in the fourth generation”), he concludes that Joseph must have come to Egypt under Thutmose IV (last quarter of the 15th century B.C.), and that the family of Jacob lived during the following reign (Amenophis III [called Amenhotep III in the book]). Then, working backward chronologically, our author designates Thutmose III (c. first half of the 15th century B.C.) as the pharaoh of Abraham’s descent. He claims that Thutmose III sired Isaac by Sara (save the mark). Joseph himself is found to be none other than Yuya, the father-in-law of Amenophis III and the source of the monotheism that came to the fore during the reign of Yuya’s grandson Akhenaten. To bolster this pastiche of remarkable brainwaves, our author has recourse, from time to time, to passages not only from the Bible, but also from the Talmud and the Koran. His solemn trotting out of what can only be called a “Child’s Guide to the Documentary Hypothesis” does not save his theory from complete disaster. Mr. Osman certainly fails to make the case that Yuya and Joseph are identical.

The author treats the evidence as cavalierly as he pleases. He presents himself as a sober historian, yet when it suits him, the Biblical evidence is accepted at face value and literally. See, for example, Osman’s treatment of the chronological implications of Moses’ age on the supposed sequence of pharaohs (pp. 118–119), and his handling of the age of Joseph (p. 120). When the Biblical evidence does not suit Osman, it is discarded (pp. 114ff. on the length of the wilderness wandering of the Israelites) or ignored completely (e.g., the age of Jacob [Genesis 47:28], which by Osman’s reconstruction would put his birth well before that of his father, Isaac!). The narratives need not be binding, Osman advises, since they “were handed down over several centuries by word of mouth” (p. 31), yet we are invited to marvel at the precision in the numbers of the genealogy of Genesis 46 (p. 131). Again, all the author thinks he has to do is to state that there is a scholarly consensus, and this automatically becomes (for him) compelling evidence (pp. 71–73, 132). Needless to say, it is not “generally thought,” as Osman claims, that monotheism “had its origins in Yuya” (p. 139).

The work betrays a profound linguistic ignorance—for example, the ludicrous distinction implied between “Amurrites” and “Semitic elements” (p. 73); or the author’s inability to translate Hebrew (p. 73); or his outlandish derivation of the Turkish word wazir, “vizier,” from Egyptian wsr, “powerful” (p. 126). Anyone who would derive the Philistine seren, “ruler,” the West Semitic sar, “magistrate,” and the Latin personal name Caesar from the “same root” and the “same source” (p. 36, note 2) simply has a world of linguistic training ahead of him.

The work abounds in outright errors of fact. The -ham in the name “Abraham” has nothing to do with Egyptian h?m, “majesty” (p. 35); there is no cat-goddess “Bes” (p. 65; he has confused Bes with Bast); Dharukha is not Sile (p. 111); the Yo- and Ya- in the names “Joseph” and “Jacob” are imperfect (or precative) preformatives of Amorite, and have nothing to do with YHWH (pp. 122–123); Yuya was priest of the ithyphallic Min, not the pious monotheist Osman conjures up (p. 123); the Hyksos were not “shepherds” as the author several times claims, completely misled by the erroneous folk-etymology in Josephus. This list could easily be doubled.

Osman’s bibliography is only 50 items in length, and over half consists of works published prior to 1945! The gaps are enormous. He talks about Yuya’s physical remains, yet never cites the epoch-making x-raying of the Cairo mummies; he ponders the location of Pi-Raamses and Goshen (p. 107), and completely ignores the revolution in our knowledge of the eastern Delta brought about by the work of Alan Gardiner, Manfred Bietak, John Holladay and others within the last two decades. The enormous amount of research during the same period by Biblical scholars on the Exodus and the sources relating thereto are passed over in silence. “Recent studies” for our author (p. 95) means works written 35 years ago!

If this work had been submitted as a term paper by one of my undergraduates, I would have felt constrained to fail him or her. Mr. Osman is not an undergraduate, but I don’t see why he should be let off the hook: Stranger in the Valley of the Kings deserves nothing but an “F,” and its author a rap on the knuckles for wasting our time.

Challenge to the Akhenaten Identification of the KV55 Mummy

This link comes courtesy of the KV64 blog maintained by Kate Phizackerley (recommended to readers on several occasions).  Kate points us to a brief article on the Archaeology New Network blog from this past June which sketches reasons for rejecting the KV55 mummy as that of Akhenaten.

This link is relevant to the DNA testing of King Tut and his extended family which we have blogged about several times (see here, here, and here for a few). KV64 (Kate P.) had previously posted about the doubtful nature of the KV55 identification with Akhenaten. The bottom line is that, if the KV55 mummy is not Akhenaten, then his remains have yet to be found and the DNA research done on Tut cannot be linked to him as of yet.

While some Egyptologists would argue that Akhenaten’s remains were destroyed along with the attempt to eradicate his memory from Egypt, I think the obvious answer has been missed: the aliens who spawned him took the body back to their home planet.  It’s eminently logical, isn’t it? Since that big head of his is scientific proof that he was an alien, if his body is missing logic dictates that they took the body!  There can’t be any other more coherent explanation. I find it compelling. Now back to my journal article on Jesus’ appearances in potato chips.

DNA Results for the Fetuses in Tut’s Tomb

Some readers asked about this a while back in response to this post about how the “small bodies” in the tomb were not baby aliens (!) but human fetuses, as well as in response to the recent DNA testing of Tut’s remains (see, in order, here, here, here, and here).  I had emailed some Egyptologists about whether the fetuses had been tested but came up empty as far as any publication.  But apparently I just didn’t ask the right people. But to be fair, maybe I was asking the wrong question. I was looking for publication of the DNA work on the fetuses. That apparently has not been produced, but the fetuses are included here in terms of DNA comparisons.

Today the KV64 blog posted some new discussion of the DNA of the larger of the two fetuses.

The discussion and debate are still swirling about what can and cannot be said about the DNA of Tut and all the other individuals whose DNA was tested and compared. That’s because (a) there are ambiguities in the test results and (b) scholars are typically very cautious people when it comes to publishing their ideas.  Some are now wondering if the fetuses are Tut’s children. There is nothing in the DNA that says they aren’t, but some researchers want all the DNA signs to line up in such a way that the question would be stupid.  The results have just raised certain questions as you can see by reading the above link about the larger fetus.

One question that isn’t being entertained is “hey, what do we do about all the extraterrestrial DNA signatures in the results?” Sadly, there are none. The fetuses are all too human.  Another bummer for the ancient astronaut crowd.

Tut DNA Update

The examination of the DNA of Tut’s family is becoming a clinic in how mainstream “archeo-journalism” commits paleobabble. The discussion among people who care and know whereof they speak continues (and this blog will continue to make sure you know about it). But journalists?  They’ve moved on after (what else is new) dismissing the need to temper their headlines or re-examine conclusions.

Akhenaten’s Mummy Identified via DNA Testing?

I just wanted to post an update on what has emerged as a controversy regarding the identification of Akhenaten’s mummy (or not). The Egyptology News blog has been keeping up with the discussion pretty closely. Yesterday a post appeared in favor of confirmation that the mummy of KV55 is indeed Akhenaten. It’s cranial features certainly would be in concert with that (below).

The identification was put forth as a result of new DNA testing on several mummies published a month ago in the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA).

However, the KV64 blog has a pretty technical summary on why the KV55 mummy is “probably not” Akhenaten, and argues that the DNA evidence is on *that* side of the debate. Here are the summary’s conclusions:

Combining the DNA data with known historical facts shows that Akhenaten is probably not the KV55 mummy.

It is tempting to consider the KV55 mummy (Tutankhamun’s father) alternatively as Smenkhare although this can be no more than conjecture on the basis of the available data.

There is a very strong probability of a second line of descent from Yuya and Thuya  to the KV62 foetuses.

This secondary line of descent is consistent with the historical Nefertiti.

There is a strong probability of second line of descent from Amenhotep III to the foetuses not via the KV55 mummy.

This second line of descent is consistent with the historical Akhenaten.

It is possible to construct a family tree along these lines which fully fits the STR analysis published in the JAMA paper and which assumes Nefertiti is a granddaughter of Yuya and Thuya.

It is possible, but not essential, to accommodate the Younger Lady and KV21B mummies in this revised family tree as further daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

Notice that the DNA evidence has received a thorough going-over by qualified interested parties of differing opinions. That’s called peer review. No one is “noticing” any alien DNA. That’s too bad for all those who wanted Akhenaten as an extraterrestrial.

Leaked DNA Findings on King Tut

Very interesting post today over on Archaeoblog. The results of DNA testing on King Tut have been leaked a bit.  Now, this isn’t paleobabble, so why note it? Because there are some items of interest to the paleobabblers out there:

Genetic testing found evidence that Tutankhamun had been infected with plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes an often deadly form of malaria. The scans and genetic fingerprinting carried out on Tutankhamun also showed he had several disorders, some of which ran in the family . . . Using genetic fingerprinting, the researchers also lifted the veil on another mystery surrounding King Tut: his lineage. Using partial Y-chromosome information, the researchers determined that Akhenaten (..) was Tut’s father, and that Tutankhamun’s mother was Akhenaten’s sister. Tut also sired two children, both girls, but they died in the womb, the study found. (..)”

The two children alluded to would be the two “alien babies” paleobabblers love to talk about on the Web. Yes, they’ve been examined. Sex identified: girls.  But here’s the real relevant part for those who care about logical thinking. Thorough genetic testing has been done on the father (Tut) of the two children. He’s not an alien, nor is there evidence of alien DNA (I can hear it now: “It’s being covered up.” Yeah, and we can now expect the team of scientists working on this will all mysteriously disappear).  So that would in turn mean his children aren’t aliens or have alien DNA. Here’s the kicker, the tests show that Akhenaten, the famous alien pharaoh, was Tut’s father. How could it be that Tut doesn’t have alien DNA? Maybe . . . because Akhenaten wasn’t an extraterrestrial either. Just maybe.

On a more sane turn, the DNA also proves that Akhenaten (and thus his progeny, many of which have elongated skulls) did not suffer from Marfan’s syndrome. More recent work on Akhenaten’s condition has been done, and blogged here.

Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Unusual Physique: Proof of Alien DNA?

Uh . . . nope. Well . . . it does have something to do with genetics . . . but not from space aliens.

Fortunately, we have something called  . . . science . . . to help us understand what may have been going on with Akhenaten (and other members of the 18th dynasty).

An interesting 2009 technical article from the professional medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, addresses Akhenaten and others in his lineage. You can beam it up here.