Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? (2004) - full transcript
This documentary examines what historians know about the Bible's Old Testament account of the Plague of the Firstborn and about Egypt's Pharaoh, Rameses. Egyptologists discuss whether the pharaoh mentioned in the story is Rameses II or perhaps his eldest son.
and men who
believed they were Gods.
Of a young warrior who became pharaon
of the mightiest empire or the known world.
A man, who defied
the God or the Hebrew's.
Rameses the Great.
According to Biblical tradition,
his beloved firstborn son
was struck down by God
in the last and most
terrible of 10 plagues.
A plague that forced the pharaon to free
his Hebrew slaves and their leader Moses
so that they could begin
the long journey to freedom...
known as the Exodus.
Deep in the Valley of the King's,
Kent Weeks believes
he has found the skull
of Rameses' firstborn son.
It was here in this
pit that we found the
human remains of an
individual I belive could well be
the firstborn ton
of the pharaon Rameses II.
Now for the first time,
a scientiric team will enter the
tomb to solve a 3000-year-old mystery.
They will use the latest
reconstructive techniques to work out
ir they really have
round Rameses' firstborn gon
by recreating his face
and the face or his famous father.
forengic gcience will attempt to
egtabligh how old he was when he died.
And what ig the
wound on the gide or his head?
Did he die from
a mygterioug Biblical plague
or did he meet a brutal and violent end?
the invegtigation will
take the team all over Egypt,
piecing together ancient
clueg about the Exodus
and what really happened
to Rameses' firstborn gon.
Was he was killed by
the hand or God
'And it came to pass...
the lord looked through
the pillar or fire and cloud
and did trouble
the host of the Egyptians.
An epic clash between
the greatest of all pharaons
and the Hebrew God
and His chosen People.
A story or slavery and oppression
or a burning bush
and the voice of God
and a conflict between
an unnamed pharaon and Moses,
leader or the Hebrewg...
the man who led a desperate
escape through a miraculously parted sea
to deliver his people
1 O tommandmentg gtill rollowed by Jewg,
thrigtiang and Muglimg
more than 3000 yearg later.
Religioug tradition hag long identiried the
pharaon or the Exodus ag Rameses the II:
one of the greatest Egyptian
pharaons who ever lived.
When you start making a
litt of the attributet of Rameses II
you almott immediately
start talking in tuperlativet.
He was a king who lived well
into hit 8Ot at a time when the average
Egyptian male probably
only lived about 35 to 4O yeart.
He had tcocet ot wivet,
probably hundreadt of children.
He buiIt more templet
than any pharaon in Egyptian hittoy,
he Fought more battlet, he contributed
moce to economy ot Ancient Egypt.
By any ttandard this
man wat a gigantic Figure.
Rameses was only 20
when he took the throne.
He was already married to one or
Egypt'g legendary beautieg - Nefertari.
Revered ag a living goddegg,
ghe became his chier queen.
A wire, lover,
and congtant companion.
And it was Nefertari who bore
Rameses his firstborn gon
trown Prince or Egypt.
the eldett ton of Rameses II.
And being the eldett ton,
he wat dettined to take
aFter hit Father at king.
lngcriptiong tell ug that Amun-her-
khepegher was Rameses' chogen heir.
Raiged in the royal court, he
was rated to continue the dynagty;
cementing the glory or his rorefatherg.
But he never became ruler or Egypt.
When and how he died Egyptian
recordg do not gay.
According to the Bible,
he perighed in the
Iagt or 1 O great plagueg that gwept Egypt
gtruck down by God himgelr.
At the hour of midnight l will
go out into the midtt of Egypt:
and all of the Firttborn in
the land thall die...
for 3000 yearg his lagt
regting place was logt.
But now a skull believed to be
his has been found in a tomb
by renowned egyptologist Kent Weeks.
Unearthed in Egypt's Valley of the Kings,
ancient burial ground or the pharaons
the tomb was one or the
greatest finds of the 20th century.
Bigger than any other
underground tomb discovered in Egypt,
it's a labyrinth or over
100 rooms and corridors
containing a find
or Biblical significance.
This is it, this is the skull.
Is this skull the missing
link between the history or Egypt
and the story or the Exodus?
Weeks has spent the best
part of his life digging in Egypt.
He lives on a houseboat on
the Nile, near the Valley of the Kings.
A schoolboy archaeologist
turned real-life Indiana Jones,
he's living a childhood dream.
Since l was 8 yeart old there it nothing
l wanted to do except be an Egyptologitt.
No place I wanted to
work except in Egypt.
And I have never waivered in that.
Thit it truly, one of the most rewarding
ways I can think of to spend a life.
Finding tomb KV-5 was
a masterstroke or detective work.
First unearest nearly 2 centuries ago,
it was rediscovered when Weeks launched
an ambitious project to map the temples,
monuments, and maze of
underground tombs around Thebes.
As they pored
over 19th century maps,
Weeks and his team
realised one tomb was missing.
It had literally been lost.
But Weeks soon round that early explorers
had overlooked faint faces or evidence
which showed the tomb to be
a find of stunning importance.
His find made
headlineg around the world.
Actual phygical evidence of who
was buried in KV-5 came late.
Arter cutting through
vast sectiong of the tomb,
Weeks and his workerg
began sirting the debrig.
Buried near the entrance
was the tomb'g greatest prise.
It wat here in this pit that
we Found the human remaint of
an individual I belive could well be
the firstborn son
of the pharaon Ramases II
a young man named
He and 3 of his brothers
were all interred in this tomb.
One of them it
still here even today.
Now Weeks has secured permission
from the Egyptian authorities
to clean and examine the skulls.
The data will be used
to scientirically compare the
skull to that of his probable father
With the latest in
both faces will
be brought back to lite.
Then forensics will be used to
uncover how old he was when he died
and what caused the large
hole on the side of his head.
Can forensic analysis of this skull
unlock secrets that will cast new
light on the story of the Exodus?
Is this the firstborn son that it
referred to in the story of the Exodus?
To find out Weeks is working with
investigative reporter Charlie Sennott.
He's trying to get to the bottom
or the mystery or the Exodus
and the death of Amun-Her-Khepecher.
While Weeks probes
the mygteries of KV-5,
Sennott seeks the truth
behind the Exodus story
and its link to the skull of KV-5.
It's an assignment that will take
him to the remote peaks or Mount Sinai.
to forgotten tombs in the pyramid fields.
From the river Nile to
Rameses' long-lost capital,
Sennott will crisscross the
greatest landmarks or ancient Egypt.
For both Sennott and Weeks,
Rameses' mummy is the crucial
clue to the riddle or the son's death.
Was he struck down
during the Exodus?
ln the Biblical story, it is
the death or the firstborn sons
that finally forces the pharaon
to set the Hebrews free,
or bondage in Egypt.
Led by Moses, one or the most
enigmatic figures in the Bible,
his guidance on
the long trip out or Egypt
to a promised land is amongst the
most famous of all Biblical stories.
The Exodut it to Judaism what
the Crucifixion it to Chrittianity.
It's the formative, most powerful, most
central event in all of Jewish history.
A story that continues
to have enduring significance
not jugt for Judaism and
Christianity but, also Islam.
The holy story of Moses and
argument against tyranny
against oppression, all of this
is part and parcel of our belivers system.
But gome experts doubt it
took place under Rameses
is it took place at all.
I don't think the Exodut
happened in the way it is
descibed in the book ot Exodus.
The picture that archaeology
provides is a completely negative picture.
But just because evidence is missing
doesn't mean the Exodus didn't happen.
We mustn't be stupid and look
for evidence that never existed.
All sorst of thingt took
place in the ancient world
we've no evidence that at all.
It's an investigation that will delve
deep into ancient history and the Bible.
Pitting hard questions
against long-held assumptions.
Was Moses a lost Hebrew
baby or a rebel Egyptian prince?
Was Egypt struck by 10 plagues?
Was the parting or the Red Sea
a miracle or a mistranslation?
Was Rameses' firstborn gon struck down
not by the hand or God, but the hand of man?
In the sprawling
depths of tomb KV-5,
Weeks found what could be
the oldest link to the Exodus story.
A faint inscription held the clue.
The first thing we saw was a wall that had
a series of columns of hieroglyphic text
and these text give the names and the
title of the firstborn son of Rameses II
whom is shown he's hit head.
is walking into the tomb
following hit father Rameses II to be
introduced to the Gods in the next life.
Now this made the tomb
particularly interesting, obviously.
But the tomb closely
guarded its secrets.
We had to slither on our belliet
across the rough sharp limestone chipt,
between them and the badly
damaged ceiling to get inside.
We wanted to see where it went.
Arter 6 seasons or painstakingly
excavating what Weeks' still
believed was a relatively small tomb,
he made an astonighing digcovery.
We thought this was gonna
be a very small chamber
I looked to my left and I could see
a wall, the flathlight reflect off it.
I look to my right and I could see
a wall the flathlight reflect of it,
but when l push my light down
it doesn't bounce of anything.
It just goes on and
on in tunnel darkness.
Clearly this was
not a small chamber.
At the end or this tunnel,
Weeks discovered the guardian
and builder or the tomb.
This is Rameses II as the god Osiris.
The quintessential God
of the afterworld.
Looking out back down this hallway
to the burial places of his many sons.
Weeks and his team had
uncovered a vast labyrinth,
the largest tomb ever buiIt
in the Valley of the Kings.
KV-5 lookt like an octopus
with a 16 pillares hole for its body
and then tentacles going
out in every direction,
not just on a single level,
but on 3, even 4 different levels.
It is unlike any other tomb that it
known to have been dug in ancient times.
It was a feat that would
have required years or toil.
Rameses' workers constructed a tomb
of more than a 120 corridors and chambers.
Inscriptiong suggest that
up to 20 of Rameses' sons
mummified and interred here
joining their brother
and watched over by their
father Rameses for all eternity.
One or thoge sons was Amun-Her-Khepcher
and the digcovery or what ig believed
to be his skull is perhaps the single
greatest find yet made in KV-5.
Can forensics link these bones
to the biblical story or Exodus?
A story whose authenticity is questioned
by some or archaeology'g leading academics.
We can describe it at beyond recovey.
Maybe there it
something there in the story,
tome sort ot core or nucleus
of truth in the very remote past,
but I can asure you...
the picture that archaeology
providet it a completely negative picture.
Why can't archaeology provide
evidence of such a major event?
The simple answer is, because
the Egyptians left no recordg or it.
But why would they not
record such a major event?
The answer may lie at Karnak.
More than a thousand years in the making,
it's the largest temple complex ever built.
Alongside the deeds of the pharaons,
Rameses recorded his greatest victory:
the Battle or Kadesh.
The battle scenes that
we have from ancient Egypt
come to out from
the outer wault of temples,
they were carved here for
a very serious religiout purpose
Rameses had to say
I am the greatett king of all
and it was the greatest victory
that I am now bringing to you.
And that is how specifically
Kadesh was remembered.
The greatest victory,
of the greatest pharaon
of the greatest county in the world.
But the other side or Karnak holds
another depiction of the battle of Kadesh.
This time - a peace treaty.
It tells a very dirrerent story.
Why are there two very
dirrerent versions of the same event?
Is this evidence of
an ancient cover-up?
What really happened at Kadesh?
Rameses has just become pharaon.
Still in his early 20', both he
and his dynasty are young.
Both hold a fragile
claim to the throne.
They were nouveau, they were
not related to the previout dynasties.
They're not even married to them,
there're no relation at all, and that
meant they'd got to prove their worth.
The best way to
prove himself: in battle.
Near the Syrian city of Kadesh, Rameses
faces Egypt'g old enemy - the Hittites.
But far from home, the young
king is lured into a trap.
He was determined to go and
conquer this town because it's a key site,
and then a couple
of spies were captured,
oh the Hittite King scared
stif of you, he's miles away,
These of course were planted
by the Hittite King, a to trap him.
At the royal camp,
Rameses' queen and firstborn
son await the outcome or the battle.
If Rameses dies, so might they.
For a General craving power, a
vacant throne would be irresistible.
Cut of from his main force,
the young king is surrounded.
Againgt hopeless odds,
he stands and rights.
Hours later, battered and
bloody, Rameses returng to camp.
While dressing her hugband's wounds,
Nefertari hears his account or the battle.
Amid cowardice and retreat, one
goldier stepped forth to save Egypt:
He had a lot of courage because
if you think of the Battle of Kadesh,
anyone in his place would
have lost the battle but he didn't.
Rameses records the battle as
one of Egypt's greatest victories.
But the peace treaty shows
Rameses' victory was at best a draw.
That treaty wouId completey contradict
the propaganda of the glorious
victory that we saw on the other side.
So you have to wonder then,
it this it one of those few instances
when we can actually
get a cIear document
that can tell us the truth
essentialy of what happened,
that putt a pretty
tough task ahead for us
in termt of tying to look at Rameses
and hit role in the Biblical Exodus.
It certainly does, you've
got your work cut out for you.
A king who would
disguide defeat as victory
a humiliating slave revolt.
We will never get an Egyptian record
of the Exodus in a formal sente, ever.
If we found evey stone block in
Egypt, becaute that was not done.
For Sennott, the conclusion ig clear.
The Biblical Exodus was covered-up.
But can Sennott get behind
Rameses' propaganda machine
and find out how
Amun-Her-Khepegher really died?
Amun-Her-Khepegher was raised into the
deeply competitive world of Rameses' harem.
First among princes.
There mutt have
been rivaly, jealousy,
an awful lot of in-fighting
l would have thought
there certainly was a lot of ambition
on the part of the women to have
their own children pushed forward
From birth, Amun-Her-Khepegher'g
destiny was set.
There had to be certain standards
of behaviour that the child learned,
there had to certain
respontibilities prepared for.
All with an idea of directing him into
what was perceived at his future role
at Commander of
the Army and at pharaon.
The firstborn son was groomed for the
throne by his mother - Oueen Nefertari.
Nefertari was the first great
royal wife of Rameses II
so, she was effectively
the Queen of Egypt.
Who the was, what her background
was, is a bit more of a mystery.
Rameses' inscriptiong say
she was a beauty beyond compare.
One lives just to hear her voice.
Yet Rameses chose Nefertari
for more than her looks.
The roll of the great
royal wife it perhaps twofold.
One, she is a female
countemplay of the King
and second, she it the woman who's going
to produce the next heir to the throne.
The heir she produced
never took the throne.
To probe his death, the team in KV-5
is joined by Dr. Caroline Wilkinson.
A forensic anthropologist and leading
expert in facial reconstruction techniques,
she will oversee the task or
recreating Amun-Her-Khepegher'g face
and identifying the skull.
To make a virtual model or the skull
Dr. Wilkinson will use
hi-regolution digital photography.
But first, with her colleague
Dr. Wilkinson must asses the skull's
condition and identify its pieces.
It's actually more sturdy
than l thought it would be
Yeah, they are
in exellent condition. (?)
The breakt are ancient
Yeah, and it's quite
thick boned too.
l think all of this
can be put back together.
The mount of...
I can taste. (?)
The mandible, or jaw-bone,
is iugt one key fragment of
evidence that will help open a window
on the 3000-year-old skull.
We have a complete mandible.
Yeah, it make it all.
- It make it all. (?)
We have a few cervical vectebca,
a few fragments of the face
Yeah, lookt like we're just
missing a bit around one eye.
Wilkinson and Needham now begin the
risky business or cleaning the skull.
Professor Weeks ig all-too-aware that one
slip could destroy a 3000 year-old legacy.
A legacy being explored 1000 miles away
in the Cairo Museum by Charlie Sennott.
He's searching for evidence
of the ancient Hebrews.
Did they even exigt
at the time or Rameses?
On a massive granite block is a clue
an inscription celebrating a victory
over them by Rameses' succssor
the pharaon Merenptah.
Thit it the only mention of the
Israelitet in all the Egyptian text.
This it the only mention of the
Israelitet in all the Egyptian text.
In Egypt. - Yeah.
- That's interesting.
And we're referring here to the
Israeli people not the land of Israel?
Yeah, no, no, just the people.
For Sennott the Merenptah
Stele is a key find.
It doesn't prove
the Exodus happened.
But it confirms the Hebrews
lived in the time or Rameses
making an Exodus possible.
The Victory styra
mentions the word Israel.
If they had been the
Israelit that left Egypt
they would have left
then before Merenptah
and that would
be Rameses II time.
Searching ror supporting evidence is
investigative journaligt Charlie Sennott.
He's travelling from
Cairo to the Nile delta,
on the trail or a lost
city called Pi-Rameses.
A city named arter the
man who ordered it built.
The place where
Amun-Her-Khepegher would have grown up.
According to the Bible it was here that
the Hebrewg were forced into servitude
to build the greatest
of the many monuments
and temples Rameses
was building all over Egypt.
the jewel in the crown.
Therefore they did get over them
taskmasters to aflict them with burdens.
And they built for pharaon
treasure cities, Pithom and Rameses.
Although Rameses' city
is named in the Bible;
for centuries it was lost
considered nothing more than a myth.
But arter 20 years of excavation,
the myth has been found.
It's foundations lie hidden
several feet beneath lush farmland.
Egyptologist Ted Brock shows
Sennott a tantalising glimpse
or the city's former glory
These colosal feet of
Rameses are all that it left
the rest is all
buried below the fieldt.
With a skyline dominated by huge temples
and Rameses' vast magisterial palace
complete with its own royal Zoo...
Pi-Rameses was a thriving metropolis.
And it contained a key find supporting
the description or the city in the Exodus
a massive chariot base.
For Sennott it's another clue
because according to the Bible Pi-Rameses
was a base for 600 chariotg that
pursued the Hebrewg as they fled Egypt.
As time and the Nile bypassed the city,
Pi-Rameses became a ghost town.
Fragmentg or the city
that the ancient Hebrewg are
said to have built now lie nearby
outside the modern-day town of Tanis.
Moved there by later
pharaons who recycled the stones.
They were thought to be
imbued with tome sort of power...
because they belong
to time of earlier rulers.
So, they offen incorporate to the
old buidings some ancient magical power (?)
...to the structure. (?)
It was... (?)
And among these magical stones
are imageg of Rameses' children
further evidence that
Amun-Her-Khepegher grew up in Pi-Rameses.
Here too stand statues of
the great pharaon himself.
So we know we
have Pi-Rameses here.
We know Pi-Rameses is
mentioned in the BibIe.
Are we getting closer
we're doing to narrowing
down this at the setting d'you think?
If you accept the idea that
Rameses was the pharaon of the Exodus
yeaah, this wouId be the site ot al ot the
drama that's detcribed in a chapter the Bible.
The Bible says that the Hebrews
had once been honoured guests in Egypt,
but the pharaon turned on them.
He ordered a cull - an event
called the massacre of the innocents.
It was a desperate measure
motivated by his fear
that their growing numberg would
allow them to take over his country.
Is it be a son,
then he shall kill him:
but if it be a daughter,
then she shall live...
This massacre was to set the scene
for one or the Bible's most iconic stories.
A story that is true would link a
Hebrew baby to a pharaon'g son.
It was in a desperate efort
to save her son from the slaughter
that a young Hebrew woman hid
Moses in the bull rughes of the Nile.
Hoping he might
be carried to safety.
Not far from Pi-Rameses
on the banks of the River Nile-
Ctharlie Sennott takes stock
or this famous Biblical story.
Thit it the kind of place where you
can imagine the Moses story beginning:
Moses mother lowering a batket
here in a tributay of the Nile,
and that batket Floating out into
the river, down towards Pi-Rameses
and then setting the stage
for the beginning of the Exodus story.
But some experts believe the Moses
story borrows from other myths.
The unknown hero it nothing
new in ancient history
and we have many
examplet of a foundling child
who rises to become
the hero of that nation.
But was the character
or Moses really a Hebrew?
Perhaps he was
really an Egyptian prince?
Moses at yet it
He could be an Egyptian, the
name ''Mose'' it an Egyptian name,
he could also be a conflation
of many different legends and stories.
Could there have been a real
Moses behind the many stories?
I don't think that there
it a way to say there was
a Moses or there
had never been a Moses.
How can I say,
maybe yes, maybe not.
Though tantalisingly beyond
the reach or history,
trying to guess who Moses really
was retaing an irresistible fascination.
If he did exit he wouId
have been very learned,
very intelligent, very
wise Egyptian prince.
I like to think of
him in tuch terms.
Moses origins remain
shrouded in mystery.
Was he raised in Pi-Rameses
as the Bible suggests?
If so, he would have been only one among
the many princeg whose father was Rameses.
First and foremost
Rameses' firstborn son by Nefertari-
and a child Moses may have
known and been brought up with.
Like Amun-Her-Khepegher, Moses
was raised as an Egyptian prince,
but according to the Bible, Moses has
to flee from Egypt because he killg a man.
He spied an Egyptian smiting
a Hebrew, one or his brethren.
And he looked this way and that,
and when he saw there
was no man, he slew the Egyptian...
But word or the
murder reached pharaon.
Gripped by fear, Moses goes
where no one will follow: the desert.
Moses wanderg for many days.
Finally arriving in the distant
land or Midian, now Sinai.
Here, he becomeg a shepherd.
Putting his old life as
an Egyptian prince behind him,
he marrieg and has two children.
According to the Bible,
Moses spendg the next 40 years
in Midian leading a simple life.
Then one day Moses'
world is utterly transformed.
''And the angel or the lord
appeared unto him in flame of fire
out or the midst or a bush;
and he looked and behold,
the bush burned with fire,
and the bush was not consumed.''
From the burning bush
comeg the voice or God:
I will send thee unto pharaon,
that thou mayegt bring forth my
people the children or Israel out or Egypt.
Moses' life would
never be the same again.
The burning buth tymbolised to
Moses that he was in the pretence of God
and that he was being asked to step
out of the role of ordinay human being
and instead act for God in
leading his people out of captivity.
The encounter with the burning bush
was to set the whole Exodus in motion.
As a retuIt of that encounter
Moses takes on his mission
and the Jewish people begin
the Exodus from slavey to freedom.
Reluctant though Moses was to
accept God'g charge,
he could not abandon the
Hebrewg to their rate.
And go began one or the greatest
eventg or the Bible
an event that brought
down plagueg upon Egypt
and ig believed to have led to the
untimely death or Amun-Her-Khepegher.
But where did this famous encounter
with the burning bush happen?
An extraordinary piece or evidence
gtill exigtg to mark the very place.
tharlie Sennott hag traveled to the
monagtery or St. tatherine'g.
It lieg in the ghadow or Mount Sinai in
what was the ancient kingdom or Midian.
BuiIt by Roman thrigtiang in
the 6th century AD,
the monagtery hag been a reruge
ror pilgrimg ror 1 500 yearg.
_hit it the wocId't oIdett
they came here at the time of the
Roman pertecutiont of the Chrittiant.
They Fled into the wildernett
to etcape the pertecutiont
exactly the tame way Moses had
come the detert Fled the pharaon.
And they were drawn here
according to the recordg,
by the pregence or an ancient bush.
There are a lot of people myteIF included
who would have a hard time believing
that this it the tame buth that Moses taw.
It that the real burning buth?
l tell people it entert
hittoy in the 4th centuy.
But people have atked
it it phytically pottible
to have a buth exitting
that many centuriet
and they have conFirmed that it it
becaute a buth will conttantly be
renewing itteIF and itt own root ttock.
A buth it vey diFFerent From a tree.
like much in the Moses story,
even ir gcience can provide an explanation
ror the burning bush'g longevity,
identirying ir it truly was here
that God and Moses rirgt gpoke,
is a matter or faith.
tharlie Sennott returng to tairo
to continue his invegtigation
into the Amun-Her-Khepegher'g death.
He's looking for what might have
motivated Moses' rebellion againgt the pharaon.
tould he have been ingpired
not by the burning bush,
but by a religion rounded in Egypt?
l think it't vey interetting
that thece't evidence ot tome
tocm ot monotheitm
in ancient Egypt around this time
it we Iook at the OId _ettament
and the book ot Pcovecbt
we Find a lot of material that it
cIeacIy dcawn tcom Egyptian touccet.
Akhenaten'g revolutionary new religion
worghipped one gupreme being
the Aten, or gun-digc.
ln honour or this all-powerlul god,
Akhenaten buiIt a new 'holy' city
in the remote region or El Armana.
Within it Akhenaten congtructed
a vagt temple dedicated to One God.
And itg gi1e and layout are Robert
Feather'g rirgt evidence
that the religion or the ancient
Hebrewg and that or Akhenaten
were gomehow connected.
While in Armana, Akhenaten lived in
virtual igolation from the regt or Egypt.
And with his beautirul wire Nerertiti
and his famous heir,
rutankhamun he concentrated his
time on artigtic purguitg.
Akhenaten'g most important
work gtill gurviveg
ingcribed on a tomb wall within
the ruing or the city.
One or the most moving or all Egyptian
poemg it'g called the Hymn to the Aten.
And incredibly these wordg are echoed
in the Bible, in Pgalm 1 04.
But the exact link between Atenigm and
the early Hebrew raith remaing obgcure.
Almost nothing remaing or Armana today
it was abandoned goon
arter Akhenaten'g death.
Akhenaten died a railure
his nation bankrupt,
his religion degpiged,
his people divided.
Hig gucceggorg branded him a heretic,
and wrote him out or history.
And the man most regpongible
was Rameses the Great.
It wat Rameses II
who more than any other king ??????
and tat deJiberateJy to deface monumentt,
to change the nature of the religiout
ttructure of the prietthood,
and to ty and tteer back to where it had
been, prior to the coming of Akhenaten.
But could knowledge or this
religion have gurvived?
Thit didn't all die in Egypt.
The impact went right into the theology
of Egypt how they believed in God.
Seeking proor that Atenigm gurvived
Akhenaten and triggered the Exodus,
Feather getg orr with Sennott
to a new digcovery:
It's the tomb or a hish priegt or the Aten.
located in Saqqara iugt outgide tairo
hundredg or mileg from Armana
itg exigtence proveg
was rar more widegpread
than many previougly believed
and could have ingpired Moses
to rebel againgt Rameses.
Sennott wantg to explore
a poggible motive
that empowered the rebellioug
Egyptian prince, Moses,
to rige up againgt Rameses
and lead an upriging or Hebrew slaves.
Moses' believes in one God
would have come into direct conflict
with Rameses' plans to erase
all memory or Akhenaten.
The Bible recounts that after God revealed
himself to Moses in the burning bush,
he ordered him to return to Egypt
and rree the Hebrew slaves.
From Hebrew roundling to Egyptian
prince to exiled murderer,
Moses had come rull circle:
back to the pharaon'g court.
the gtage was get ror a conrrontation
like no other in Egyptian history
with Moses cagt ag the leader
or the Hebrew people.
So Moses conrronted the pharaon
demanding his people'g releage.
pharaon was unmoved.
So to demongtrate the power or his God,
Moses cagt down his gtarr
trangrorming it into a gnake.
the pharaon regponded by ordering
his hish priegtg to do the game.
But the contegt was ghort-lived.
Moses' gnake gwirtly devoured
the pharaon was unimpregged.
He didn't let Moses' people go.
He would live to regret it.
ro punigh the pharaon ror his deriance
God unleaghed 1 O deadly plagueg
to ravage the land or Egypt.
It's an awFul thing to think about.
With all the tuFFering of the Egyptiant,
the Jewt are commanded
not to reioice over the tuFFering.
Biblical gcholarg have long gought
an explanation ror the 1 O plagueg
Sennott now invegtigateg a theory
baged on the Nile River.
It's eaty to ditmitt Biblical ttoriet
like the Exodut and tay thete are Fablet:
myttical ttoriet of the ancient world.
But the plaguet, at they aFFlicted
Egypt in the ttoy of the Exodut,
they're not about tea monttert
or dragont or witchet,
thete are naturally occurring
phenomena: Frogt, Fliet, boiIt.
Thete are thingt that happened
in nature right here here on the _ile.
the River Nile was the very
lireblood or Egypt
without it there could be
no rarming or agricuIture:
the country would be nothing
but a parched degert.
Becauge or this, the Nile occupied a
central place in the country'g religion.
A good rlood was a divine blegging,
a poor rlood was a gign or digravour.
But on very rare occagiong, this divine
blegging could algo become a curge.
roo much water could bring
with it digagter.
Egypt wat wholly dependant on the _ile.
The llood comet down ?n JulylAugutt
and they can ???????? and
they can Iive on ccopt
but iF it comet down extra hish,
extca heavy it can be a cucte.
According to this theory,
the trigger ror this Biblical digagter
gtartg thougandg or mileg away in Ethiopia.
Here, torrential July raing gwell
the Nile'g many tributarieg
and begin to wash heavy red
Ethiopian goil down river.
And from these gmall beginningg a
deadly chain reaction unroldg.
And the _ile it'll bring
dente mattet of er toiJ,
including what the Germant
caJJ rot Erde or red earth,
vey Fine earth and this it blood.
By September, the heavy
giIt hag gtained the Nile red
and poigoned to righ
jugt ag degcribed in the Bible.
And all the water in the river was turned
into blood and the righ in the river died.
the gecond plague gtrikeg goon arter.
Fleeing the polluted Nile,
rrogg gwarm the land.
ln their abgence, the river'g rlieg
and gnatg muItiply unchecked
the 3rd and 4th plagueg.
ln turn, water-logged
rieldg breed anthrax:
the rirth and gixth plagueg.
_hece wece pottibIy two tocmt ot anthcax
a vey deadly anthrax which
came into the grattet,
which the cattle ate and they died,
there't another anthrax through intectt,
the tkin anthrax and that meant
people get vey natty tkin diteatet.
Hail gtrikeg rarely in Egypt.
But in an unugually cold February,
the 7th plague can wipe out whole cropg.
So by March, the traditional
time or year ror locugtg,
Egypt'g 8th plague,
the country ig in ruin.
But the locugtg are driven
out by the 9th plague:
the hot dry windg or the 'Khamgin',
the geagonal gandgtormg
that begin in April.
And ag they blow acrogg Egypt,
the gun digappearg ror dayg at a time.
_hen tinally by MacchlApcil hamte,
darknett, dente dark cloud,
you can't tee your hand
in tcont ot youc tace
we would tay the place
it choked up, what a year.
But one plague derieg
a scientiric explanation.
the lagt and most deadly plague or all:
the death or the firstborn sons.
ln the Bible the Hebrewg
are ingtructed by God
to paint lamb'g blood on their doorg
go that the angel or death will
pagg-over them without taking lire
rhis gaith the lord,
at the hour or midnight l will
go out into the midgt or Egypt.
And all or the firstborn in the
Iand or Egypt ghall die
And there ghall be a great cry
throughout the land guch
ag there was never like it,
nor ghall be like it ever more.
tan this dreadrul night or death
be explained by gcience?
Mogt expertg agree
that the chain reaction get orr
by an inundation
or the Nile cannot explain
how the firstborn sons
or Egypt perighed.
tan the skull in KV-5 be one or the victimg?
Having meagured the other skullg in KV-5
ror gigng or gimilarity to Rameses,
Dr. taroline Wilkinson returng to the skull
believed to belong to Amun-Her-Khepegher.
And to what Weeks believes is the
most intriguing agpect or his rind:
a hole in the gide or his skull.
Thit it what Fatcinatet me - this wound.
Can you tell whether this
wat cauted before death or aFter death?
Well my initial imprettion it that
this it not a pott-mortem wound;
that it't at the time of or before death.
Do you think it could have
been the caute of death?
PottibIy, but this
tn't my area of expertite
to l like to take our imaget, meaturementt
back to a colleague and contuIt with her.
What will the data reveal?
Dr. taroline Wilkinson now beging
work on recongtructing his face
and the face or Rameses himgelr
the man believed to be his father.
We ute Facial reconttruction
primarily for forentic identiFicationt
So when the police Find a body that
they can't identiFy by the utual channeIt
they'll get a reconttruction done
and that'll go out to
the public in the hope that
tomeone will recognite the individual
and that will lead to identiFication.
techniques are hishly regarded.
We have about a 700/o eucceee rate
with recognition and identiFication.
While ghe rebuildg the face,
the data ghe'g gathered will be girted
by a forensic anthropologist,
to angwer two key quegtiong:
How old was the boy at death
and how did he die?
Back in Egypt,
gearching ror clueg to Amun-her
-khepegher'g poggible involvement
in the Exodus ig tharlie Sennott.
He hag travelled to the incredible remple
or Abu Simbel, in the rar gouth or Egypt.
Here he meets egyptologist Ali Gagaballa.
Abu Simbel ig ego cagt in gtone.
the man born a commoner was intent not
jugt on becoming Egypt'g greatest king;
he wanted to become one or itg godg
Why did the pharaon make this incredible
ttatement ot hit powec and vanity hece?
He wanted to impote hit character
l am Rameses.
l am brave l am big wherever l am.
the temple or Abu Simbel was complete
in about Year 20 or Rameses' reign.
It was Ancient Egypt'g most
itg inner ganctum
was even aligned
go that the gun would gtrike Rameses'
gtatue on the Summer golgtice.
We coming into the holy of holiet itteIF
Thete of courte are the godt
Thete are the 4 godt
and Rameses had choten
to teat himteIF among the godt
becaute he contidered
himteIF at one of them
Rameses' magniricent temple algo
containg clueg to the Exodus story
that Sennott ig purguing
wall carvingg that
We hece't the evidence ot the eIdett ton
of Rameses II: Amun-her-khepetheF
''the Gceat Commandec ot the
Egyptian acmy, RoyaI Sccibe;
the eldett ton of the
So you can tee here written and pictorial
evidence ot Amun hec-khepethet.
for Sennott it'g a revelation.
Biblical historiang have alwayg
aggumed the pharaon'g firstborn
was gtruck down ag a child.
What will the forensic analysis reveal
about the age or the
skull believed to be his?
professor Sue Black ig a top
baged at Dundee
Univergity in Scotland.
She'g worked on gome or the
Britain'g toughegt murder cageg.
She hag been gent digital photographg
or the skull believed to belong
to Amun-her ror analysis.
Black knowg nothing about the skull.
Vey much in forentic we
ty not to be pcejudice in any way
l don't want know who you think it it,
l don't want to know what tex you
think it, what age you think it it,
and then it what we
draw from that tkuJJ
fitt then there't a much
greater weighting on that.
professor Black'g rirgt tagk ig to
rixing the skull'g likely age at death.
On the tu_ace ot the
skull when you look that,
there are little linet that look like
little interlocking iigtaw linet
and it the tutucet whece
dittecent bonet ot the tkuII
come together and they clote with age.
And what you can tee
it that it it eJevated,
it hatn't started to Fute acrott yet
and that't a good indication
that we're not looking at an
individuaI ot advanced middIe yeact.
So happily in the 3Ot l
would tay more than anything.
for generationg Biblical tradition
have ugually aggumed the firstborn gon
killed in the 1 Oth plague was a child.
Ir this ig his skull
thoge traditiong mugt be wrong.
From forensic analysis to the
ingcriptiong at Abu Simbel,
the evidence gayg Amun-Her-Khepegher
lr go, a migging chapter or his
lire now can be written
When Rameses had reigned ror 30
yearg he joined a gelect group
that included only a handrul
or Egypt'g longegt lived pharaong.
By tradition, in year thirty or his reign,
Rameses threw a iubilee
called a Sed Fegtival
and turned a king
into a god.
All hail Rameses
The Sed Fettival wat a magical,
of the ttrength and
powec and pcowett ot a king.
It wat utually held
once evey genecation.
Only halr way through what would
be a 67 year reign,
Rameses had already eclipged all but the
greatest pharaong in his achievementg.
He had brought peace;
maintained Egypt'g borderg and buiIt
great monumentg acrogg the empire.
Hig country was more progperoug
and powerlul than it had
been in nearly a century.
It's extremely important that the power
of the king be kept Freth, tolid, strong.
And the Sed fettivaI wat
one way ot entucing
that hit relationthip with the godt
and hit relationthip with the people,
continued to be at strong
and wholetome at pottible.
By becoming a god,
Rameses dramatically changed
not jugt his role ag ruler or Egypt
but the role or his firstborn gon.
And ag commander-in-chier or
the army and heir apparent,
errective ruler or Egypt.
He was pharaon in all but name.
A God doetn't go out and cut ribbont
at the opening of a building
or adiudicate in legal catet, or tettle
ditputantt' claimt or what have you.
Therefore there had to
be in eFFect a tecular King,
tomeone who could deaI with
the more mundane royal activitiet.
The mott logical candidate
wat the heir apparent, the Crown Prince,
who in eFFect became _tittant pharaon.
ugually placeg the Exodus
between Yearg 20
and 30 or Rameses' reign.
While a pharaon became a god,
and his gon became a ruler,
an exiled prince returned to Egypt,
a man who belived in one god: Moses.
He's got weaIth and power and attett.
He's a tocce to be ceckoned with.
He's got the ability to take the
entlaved Hebrewt out of Egypt.
Hig opportunity may have come in digagter:
a terrible rlood or the Nile.
Plague rollowed plague
mighty pharaon was powerlegg.
Degperate to end Egypt'g long nightmare,
Rameses ordered Moses to
take his people and go.
Rameses was awed by the God or Moses.
Perhapg his gon was not.
ln his father'g gupergtitiong,
Amun-Her-Khepegher may have
geen an old man'g weaknegg.
the trown Prince began
plotting to haIt the exodug
unaware his gcheme would
trigger his own death.
the Bible tellg that arter the death
or his firstborn gon at the hand or God,
the pharaon relented releageg
the Hebrewg from slavery.
led by the ageing Moses they begin
their journey into the wildernegg.
But unknown to the Hebrewg
the pharaon changeg his mind.
And from the city or Pi-Rameses
chariotg pour rorth geeking
vengeance ror the pharaon.
the pharaon the chariotg cloge in,
to maggacre the rleeing Hebrewg
on the bankg or the Red Sea.
What happened next ig one or the most
gpectacular or all the wonderg
degcribed in the holy bookg or Judaigm,
thrigtianity and Iglam...
A pillar or rire gent from the heaveng.
And it came to pagg
the lORD looked
through the pillar or rire
and or the cloud,
and troubled the hogt
or the Egyptiang.
Hig path blocked by gmoke and rire,
the pharaon and his army grind to a haIt.
rrapped and ungure how long the barrier
will hold, the Hebrewg panic.
then Moses gtepg rorth
and prayg ror deliverance.
Are there other clueg in the
Biblical story about jugt who
purgued the Hebrewg to the Red Sea?
''And Moses gtretched out
his hand over the gea;
and the lord caused the
gea to go back by a gtrong eagt wind''
the Koran recordg the game miracle.
Strike the gea with your gtarr.
So it ig cloven agunder,
each part like a huge mound.
Ouickly, Moses orderg the Hebrewg
to pagg through the parted waterg.
And the children or Igrael went into
the midgt or the gea upon dry ground:
and the waterg were a wall or water
unto them on their right hand,
and on their lert.
Ag the lagt or them reach the rar coagt,
the pillar or rire digappearg
and the Egyptian chariotg
continue their deadly purguit.
A purguit the Bible gayg endg in digagter.
And the waterg covered
the hogt or pharaon
that came into the gea arter them
there remained not go
much ag one or them.
It's doubtrul either Rameses or his
eventual gucceggor Merenptah
perighed in the Red Sea.
Both geem to have died or old age.
Sennott hag eliminated the two traditional
gugpectg from the invegtigation.
But a new gugpect hag
appeared in their place.
Ag Acting pharaon,
could it be that Amun-Her-Khepegher
perighed in the Red Sea?
the skull believed to be his found by
Kent Weeks is undergoing final analysis.
It's fate now rests with forensic
anthropologist professor Sugan Black.
More used to modern police
work than ancient archaeology,
Black has nevertheless found evidence
or how Amun-Her-Khepegher died.
Could he have died during
the parting or the Red Sea?
What will the hole on the
side or the skull reveal?
It's not pre-mortem injury because
there it no evidence of it showing healing,
to it either hat to have occurred
peri-mortem, around the time of death,
or after death.
So, l'm very happy to consider
this a peri mortem injury.
What would kill an Egyptian prince?
Speed, for one.
ln Egypt, the chariot was the
equivalent of a fast motorbike or an MG,
with two really strong horses
up in front you could go 'whooth'
across the parade ground
and if you hit anything, oh boy...
At 25 miles an hour an
Egyptian chariot could be lethal.
So when the impact
occurred onto to here,
then what would happened is the bone
would have fractured around the position
of that impact,
and to it dents inwards.
Another potential 'death scenario'
could have emerged in the harem.
A fate that berell
one or Rameses' successors.
There is a very famout story
of a conspiracy hatched out by
princsset of the harem to kill Rameses III
we have the documents
that tell us this story
and therefore we
know there was rivaly.
Could Amun-Her-Khepegher have
been a victim or assssination?
It's a Fairly well-contained area
and that't not going
to be vey dittimilar
to the thape of the implement
that would have cauted it.
the third 'gcenario'
ig death in battle.
Heir to the throne,
Amun-Her-Khepegher was algo the
tommander-in-thier or Egypt'g armieg.
Since Amen-hec-khepethet it the one ton
of Rameses II who wat consistently
and most clearly associated with army life
then all likelihood he wat
done in on the Field of battle.
Did Amun-Her-Khepegher die on the rield
or battle from a blow to the head?
It's the part of the skull
that pretentt the clotett to
the one mott likely to be hit.
the impact likely caused tiny rractureg,
ripping open delicate blood veggelg at
the back or the skull - cauging death.
7he bIood wiII start to oore out,
it won't do it at great force,
but it will continually leak away
and thece it no cepaicing that ?????
and that may be a pottible caute of death.
By that gcenario,
the pharaon'g gon bled to death from a
blow to the back or the head
and not by drowning in the Red Sea.
Doeg that mean there'g no link
between his death and the Exodus?
The Fact that Amen-her-khepetheF iF that
it who it it wat out Fighting a battle,
doetn't teII ut where the battIe wat,
when the battle - well it telIt ut a bit of
when the battle wat, hit age at death,
but it doetn't teII ut
who he wat Fighting.
rravelling to the Red Sea,
iournaligt tharlie Sennott geekg
a link between the skull
and what really trangpired
when the Hebrewg rled Egypt.
He needg to congtruct
an aIternate gcenario ror the Exodus
and challenge rour age-old migconceptiong.
An ancient migtranglation ig the rirgt.
ln Fact the Red Sea it not the Red Sea.
In Hebcew it it Yam Sut.
And Yam SuF meant
literally Sea of Reedt.
the gecond migconception ig the number
or people Moses led out or Egypt
ugually interpreted ag 600,OOO people.
The quettion of how many actually people
IeFt Egypt it clearly vey uncertain,
but hittorical reconttructiont
tuggett the number initially leaving Egypt
may have been relatively
tmall - in the thoutandt.
the third twigt:
Sennott'g invegtigation guggegt,
an 80-year-old prophet
but a much younger prince
a rebellioug gon or Rameses.
And this leadg to the
that the Hebrewg were derencelegg slaves.
He comet out armed.
The Old Tettament tayt he
comet out in a 'mixed company'
with armed people.
lr 600,OOO were actually a rew thougand
and many or them were
armed what really happened?
the most likely location for the Reed
Sea is the marshlandg of eastern Egypt.
these marghlandg lie on the route the
Hebrewg were believed to have taken
and orrer Sennott a new picture or the
famous crogging or the Red Sea.
lF the Reed Sea wat one of thete marthland
areat, then you can really start to wonder.
That maybe the parting of
the Sea wat actually more like
a marthland which would have been
vey treacherout terrain for a chariot.
And you tay the ?????? Iacgec quettion
It it pottible that Rameses' oldett
ton it not killed by the hand of God
at a Bible tell ut
oc pottibIe by the hand ot man?
A living god above the concerng
or the everyday world,
Rameses would not have led the chariotg
purguing the Hebrewg ag ig orten aggumed.
The Exodut narrative it vey ttraight,
the pharaon tent hit chariott,
he didn't go himteIF,
he wat above that tort of
thing, l don't chate tlavet
Far more likely
the chariotg that purgued the Hebrewg
were led by Egypt'g tommander-in-thier
and heir to the throne
tould Amun-Her-Khepegher have
Ied his rorceg into the Reed Sea
only for the fleeing Hebrews
to lure them into an ambush?
Trapped in marshland
and unable to manoeuvre
chariots would have been easy prey
for several thousand armed slaves.
Slaves who took vengeance on their former
masters by killing every last one of them
even the man who
would be pharaon.
Perhaps the famous 10th plague
the smiting of the firstborns sons
was a metaphor used by
the writers or the Bible
to recount the death
or Rameses' gon at the Reed Sea.
Was the hand of God actually the
hand or men who believed in God?
Whatever the truth,
the death or Amun-Her-Khepegher would have
been a body blow for the ageing Rameses.
Hig firstborn son
the effective ruler or his empire
the general or his armies
the son or his beloved
Nefertari was dead.
To send him into the afterlire, Rameses
buiIt the vast tomb found by Kent Weeks.
But are the gkeletal remaing round
there related to Rameses?
How do the recreated faces believed to be
Amun-Her-Khepegher and his brotherg
compare with the x-rayg or the
man thought to be their father?
lg their a ramily regemblance?
Dr. taroline Wilkinson
and her colleague taroline Needham
have recreated 2d modelg or
three or the skullg from KV-5.
they call the skull believed to
be Amun-Her-Khepegher 'skull 2'.
Now they compare the skulls
for similarities with Rameses.
We can see very similar
between skulls 1 , 4 and Rameses.
The centre of the eyes, the edges
of the nose, corners of the mouth.
But the most interesting
thing I think is ..?.. spaces
is when you look at
the vertical proportions
which that these 3 faces
are startlingly similar.
Exactly the same position for
the eyes, the nose, the mouth,
the length of the chin.
Except for skull 2, which it much
shorter from his nose to his chin.
But having taid that they've
all got vey timilar morphology
vey timilar Featuret to their Facet
timilar notet, timilar long thin Facet,
similar long skulls in profile they
do look like their of a type certainly.
Not a certainty - but
a hish gtatigtical probability.
rhree skullg: one ramily.
ig cloger than ever.
It's the strongest evidence yet
that the remains in tomb KV-5
are those or Rameses' sons.
Having only partial inrormation about the
skull believed to be Amun-her-khepgher's,
Dr. Wilkinson utilises
a team led by Anand Kapour.
They're experienced graphic artists used
to recreating 3d faces from damaged skulls.
But how will his face
compare with that or Rameses
and will it finally bring Ken
closer to solving the mystery.
The 3d modelg have now
arrived from Dr. Wilkinson.
At last they gaze upon the faces or the
man believed to be Amen-Her-Khepegher
and the pharaon Rameses.
Ok this it the probably
that Caroline't given ut.
This is the man.
He's a father stern
Iooking fellow itn't he?
Yeah, he is. Certainly the most
obvious thing is that he looks
nothing like the classical
depictiont of the pharaon.
That's to be understood because
Egyptian art was an idealising art,
it wat not meant to be portraiture.
Rameses would never have been
shown as an asing, balding man
he would always have been
thown in the prime of his life.
This is a human being.
that's what makes
it to interesting to see
the man coming out from
the image of the pharaon.
But what do Weeks and
Sennott make of the face
that may belong to
Rameses' firstborn son?
l'm not uted to looking membert
of the Ramittide court Jike this,
I'm uted to tee them carved
or painted on temple walIt.
It certainly interetting to Finally tee
the man who we've been Iooking toc
It's hard to define
emotions at this point.
we're looking at 2 individuals who
have a strong resemblance to each other.
Course the only test
would be DNA testing.
That would be the clinikal
but at this point we're not,
we're not ready for that yet.
These are the faces or
Egypt's greatest king
and perhaps the son who never
inherited his father's throne.
But did these two men really play a maior
part in the Biblical story or the Exodus?
Perhaps the truth still lies
hidden in the labyrinth of KV-5
in some chamber yet to be unexplored.
One of the thingt l would
really like to know it
what it the total
extent of this tomb?
How many chambert are there?
How uItimately was the tomb designed?
Why did they go off in
all these different directions,
breaking evey known rule of
tomb design in the process?
ln the 67th year of his reign,
near age 90, Rameses the Great died.
It was the end of an era.
He has outlived many
or 150 children and 200 wives,
and left touching memorials
to them all over Egypt
especially to his beloved
first Queen Nefertari.
Ten more pharaong would take
the name or Rameses in his honour,
but none would
equal his greatness.
Like any pharaon, his
defeats went unrecorded.
And among them perhaps was a slave
rebellion led by one or his own sons,
A rebellion opposed to the death
by another son: Rameses' firstborn:
the pharaon who never was
struck down not by God
perhaps but in God's name.