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Researching Egypt

Researching Egypt may sound odd for a blog title, but it isn’t as odd as you might think. I have often talked about doing your research. Well, I have been writing a book that is nearing completion. It is the World of Joseph, subtitled Mentuhotep Vizier of Egypt. Guess what, it takes place primarily in Egypt!

So, it required research. The subtitle itself is a product of this research. Before I started, I didn’t know Joseph’s Egyptian name other than the one given him by Pharaoh. But research showed that the name Mentuhotep was the name that history identified with him. The many and conflicting names of pharaohs and their viziers was just one of the issues I had to deal with when doing research.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do the work all by myself. I am not an expert Egyptologist. But through the internet I was able to gather a great deal of information about the Pharaoh, Sesostris I, along with the Vizier Mentuhotep, and the capital of Egypt, which was Itjtawy pronounced Ish ta way. Through research I was able to find the possible location of this mysterious city, design the palace which resembled other Egyptian palaces, and locate the land of Goshen.

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

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Now back to the article.

Tracking down Joseph in Egyptian history was quite a struggle. Not for me, but for Egyptologists. To begin with, Egyptian dynasties had to be discovered. Using ancient records proved daunting and made for a very unreliable Egyptian timeline, which not only didn’t compare with the Bible but didn’t compare with other well-known facts.

Fortunately, Egyptologists were able to make additional discoveries that led to a new Egyptian timeline. Although not intended, this new timeline merged well with the Biblical timeline.

But another aspect in tracking down Joseph was that Egyptians either did not know Joseph as Joseph or they chose not to use that name. It was a Hebrew name and therefore unlikely to be used by them. What the researchers did is research the Biblical facts regarding the feast and famine. Combining this knowledge with the knowledge they now had of where the Hebrews settled, the researchers were able to zoom in on the 12th Dynasty or Middle Kingdom. And when they did, they discovered that Mentuhotep was likely the Vizier we know as Joseph.

This vizier under Sesostris I was the second most powerful person in the government. He is credited with many things, chiefly the survival of Egypt during a seven-year famine! And not just that, he played a significant role in helping to establish the 12th Dynasty.

So, the truth is that others did the research, and I reaped the benefits! Not only did I now have a reliable history from which to work, I was now able to dive into the 12th Dynasty and discover much information, some of which found its way into my novel.

This is an example of what it takes to create a believable story. It is also an example of how you, the author, should handle the need for information. Whenever possible, let others do the heavy lifting of research. Eventually you have to get involved, but it is a major aid if you let others do the work for you.

And there is a big reward for you when the book is finished. First of all, you get a very special feeling of accomplishing something. While the novel is fictional, when the facts are examined, the book not only comes alive, but the reader gains insight. Moreover, the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the times and the people. And you have written something that has value.

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