Posts Tagged ‘grain silo’
The only lasting evidence of Joseph in Egypt that one might expect to have survived the last 4000 years are the grain silos that were cut into the ground in key Egyptian cities.
Grain silos date back to the Third dynasty and were utilized extensively in the Djoser Complex designed by Imhotep. In fact, the Step Pyramid seems to have been built on top of a shaft that could originally have been used to store grain. The complex seems to be a grain storage and distribution center. When Djoser (Netjerikhet) died, he was entombed in this protypical grain silo and a series of Mastabas were build on top resulting in the Step Pyramid.
The Famine Stele not only confirms that Djoser and Netjerikhet were the same person, it confirms that Djoser was a hereditary Land Lord and left the land to the Priests. The Famine Stele tells the story of how Imhotep came to Djoser in his 18th year and interpreted his dream. It records how Imhotep saved Egypt from a seven year famine.
These archaeological findings and historical records are strong evidence that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person.
The problem remains how to account for the discrepancy in chronological timeline if the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years and the Exodus took place in the 13th dynasty.
The Step Pyramid complex of Djoser contains a dozen shafts that appear to be grain storage bins accessible via tunnels connected to the bottom of the pits and linking to a central open stairwell. Interestingly, there is a shaft with similar dimensions right underneath the center of the Step Pyramid. The shaft obviously predates the pyramid. Access to the shaft was via a closed in stairwell linking to tunnels around it’s base. It would appear that this was a prototype grain silo. Ventilation would have been a problem and it was likely that it was abandoned as a silo once the better ventilated silos were operational. The abandoned silo was subsequently used as a burial chamber for the Pharaoh when he died in the 5th year of the famine. It was encased with ornate limestone and sealed with a granite slab after the pharaoh’s sarcophagus had been lowered into it. A mastaba was built on top of it using solid limestone blocks. Successive mastabas were added to bury the the Pharaoh’s 3 wives and 11 daughters. The result was the Stepped Pyramid.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible?
Joseph (son of Jacob) is a key figure in the Old Testament of the Bible , who became a vizier (sage / viceroy) for an Egyptian pharaoh and during this time was responsible for saving ancient Egypt from a seven year famine. Joseph was able to acquire all the land of Egypt (except that of the priests) by selling grain during the famine. In this way, Joseph made the Pharaohs very rich. Joseph was only 30yrs old when he became vizier and 44yrs old when he had saved Egypt and bought up all the land. He lived to the age of 110yrs and was given a royal Egyptian burial. The Bible is silent about what Joseph did for the last 66yrs of his life although the Bible does say that he was able to not only ensure the survival of his family, he was able to protect them as they grew into a great nation numbering over 2 million at the time of the Exodus (which occurred 430 years after Joseph’s family entered Egypt).
Given Joseph’s position and achievements, one would expect to find some evidence for his existence in Non-Biblical Egyptian records and archaeological discoveries. (See Evidence for the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt).
Imhotep is perhaps the most highly acclaimed vizier in Egyptian history, having designed the first pyramid; the Djoser Pyramid (also called the Step Pyramid). This Pyramid has a large vertical shaft under it and the complex contains many similar structures that seem to have been used to store grain, hence the connection to Joseph. Imhotep is also credited with having saved Egypt from a seven year famine (see Famine Stele). Imhotep is reputed with having designed the first buildings with columns, written many literary works, and developed preservation techniques. Hundreds of years after his death, his legend had grown so much so that he was worshiped as a deity, particularly during the Ptolemaic period. Pilgrims would bring mumified animals to his tomb in the hope of being healed.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible? If Joseph had saved all of Egypt and brought up all the land in Egypt, one would expect him to be a very prominent vizier, if not the most prominent. Imhotep built grain silos and saved Egypt from a seven year famine and his pharaoh, Netjerikhet (Djoser) was considered a hereditary Land Lord (see Famine Stele).
It was Joseph who set the precedent for Mega Tombs and Monuments for Pharaohs by burying Netjerikhet in a grain silo and stacking mastabas on top of it.
Joseph upsized the Mastaba to a Pyramid when he buried his pharaoh in a grain silo. He set the precedent for the pharaohs that followed. Few were able to surpass the solid limestone pyramid that Joseph-Imhotep erected. It was to become the gold standard for the burial of pharaohs in future dynasties.
The Left entrance would have required a ladder or a rope to get in and out while the Right entrance had stairs.
The main entrance leads straight to the Central Shaft in which Djoser’s Sarcophagus was placed. The Right tunnel leads to another tunnel that gradually descends and connects to the galleries connecting to the bottom of the shaft. The Left entrance tunnel leads to a vertical shaft that connects to the another set of galleries that are a bit like a maze. The only way out would be through the central shaft to the galleries on the Right that connect to the stairs or to climb back up the vertical shaft in the Left entrance. If the central shaft was full of grain it would not be possible to cross through to the Right side from the Left. People who fell down the vertical shaft in the Left entrance tunnel would, therefore, be trapped if they survived the fall (unless they had a ladder or a rope to climb back up). This is a scary thought!
Djoser’s sarcophagus was placed on a platform which was above the level of the galleries and tunnels that connected to the bottom of the shaft. It was therefore possible to cross from L to R through the central shaft underneath Djoser’s sarcophagus when the shaft was being used as a tomb.