Pi-Ramses and Zarw

THE recent archaeological discoveries at Kantarah (see Chapter Eleven) have made it unnecessary to argue in as much detail as I had earlier envisaged that this was the area where Pi-Ramses, the city of the Exodus, was to be found on the site of the Hyksos capital Avaris, and the fortified city of Zarw. However, some further evidence that led me to this conclusion may be of interest to the reader.

(i) The City of Pi-Ramses

Pi-Ramses was the Eastern Delta residence and capital of kings of the Nineteenth, Twentieth and early Twenty-first Dynasties until, during the Twenty-first Dynasty, a new capital was established at Tanis, south of Lake Menzalah in the northern part of the Delta. One reason why the precise location of Pi-Ramses has been the subject of considerable debate and disagreement is that it appears to have been constructed at an existing site: another that Ramses II, the third king of the Nineteenth Dynasty who gave the city its name, ruled for sixty-seven years and left many constructions all over the Eastern Delta.

Texts of the Ramesside period speak frequently of a location called Pi-Ramses myr Amun, House of Ramses, Beloved of Amun. We learn, for example, from his triumphal poem known as the Poem of Pe-natour, mentioned briefly in Chapter Eleven, that when, in the summer of his Year 5, Ramses II set out on his first Asiatic campaign he ‘passed the fortress of Zarw’ and it seems that he remained for some time in a location beyond the fortress. The text then proceeds to say that ‘His Majesty being in [the town of] Ramses, Beloved of Amun’ started his march on Palestine from this point. This text indicates that the Ramses residence not only lay beyond the fortress of Zarw, but at the start of the ‘road of Horus’ that leads to Gaza.1 What confirms this location is the fact that, on his return from this campaign, the first place mentioned was the ‘House of Ramses, Beloved of Amun Great of Victories’. It was only when proceeding from Egypt to Palestine that he had to pass the fortress of Zarw before reaching his Eastern Delta residence.

Dr Kitchen of Liverpool University is one of a number of scholars who does not accept this interpretation. Instead he regards the ‘town of Ramses, Beloved of Amun’ as being a different city that Ramses II built in Phoenicia, to the south of Syria. This view is based upon the fact that in the text there are five missing squares, followed by the Egyptian word for ‘cedar’. The text then goes on to tell us that the king ‘proceeded northward and arrived at the upland of Kadesh (in Syria)’. It is this juxtaposition of ‘cedar’ and Kadesh that has led such scholars to believe that the reference is to a city in Phoenicia.

Gardiner rejected this view, however, as there is no evidence from any other source that points to the existence of such a Ramses city in Phoenicia.2 Then, as the extant text mentions only two points – the starting point, ‘the town of Ramses’, and the arrival point, Kadesh – it seems curious that he jumped from the fortress of Zarw to a city in Phoenicia without any explanatory reason.

In fact, the mention of ‘cedar’ cannot be taken as evidence of a Phoenician location for the Ramses city. In the Kamose Stela, the king, after arriving at the Hyksos capital, Avaris, on his war of liberation, talks of ‘ships of fresh cedar’ as well as ‘all the good products of Retenu (Palestine)’ which he captured in war from the Avaris (Zarw) area.3

A further point is that mention in the text of passing the fortress of Zarw may have contributed to misunderstanding of its precise location. It is clear from the positions held by all the known mayors of Zarw that it consisted of two entities – a fortress and a city. Their relationship is made clear in Seti I’s reliefs at Karnak. The fortress was situated on either side of the canal linking the Waters of Horus with the Sea of Reeds; the city lay beyond it to the east, at the start of the ‘road of Horus’ leading to Palestine. Anyone coming from Egypt and wishing to reach Sinai had therefore to enter the western part of the fortress, cross to the eastern part – where Pi-Ramses was built – by the bridge (kantarah) that linked the two sections, and then pass through the city of Zarw.

Another text found in a papyrus known as Anastasi V mentions a letter, also touched on briefly in Chapter Eleven, sent by two army officers to the Royal Butler in which they describe how they were despatched from the palace where Pharaoh was in residence – Memphis, perhaps – to deliver three stelae to Pi-Ramses. They report how they reached Zarw by boat and are about to unload their vessels at ‘The Dwelling of Ramses, Beloved of Amun’, from which point they will have to drag the stelae to their final destination.4 This text appears to agree with the Poem of Pe-natour in placing Pi-Ramses in the vicinity of Zarw, but beyond it from the Egyptian side.

It was also at Zarw that Seti I, the second king of the Nineteenth Dynasty, was welcomed – as can be seen from his Karnak records – by high priests and officials on his return from his first-year campaign against the Shasu in Sinai and Southern Palestine. This indicates that the royal family must have had a residence in this area from the early days of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The implication, as they had no means of knowing precisely when Seti I would return from his campaign, is that the high priests and officials who greeted him were residing in Zarw at the time of his arrival. As for Seti himself, both he and his father had been Mayors of Zarw and Commanders of its Troops during the reign of Horemheb and it is a logical deduction that he had had a residence there since that time.

This is by no means the end of the evidence linking Zarw with Pi-Ramses. In 1886, Francis Griffith, the English Egyptologist, found part of an obelisk at Kantarah bearing the names of Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II. Clédat later discovered the missing portion of the obelisk and recognized correctly that it came from Zarw. Griffith also found at this location a base for an image, dedicated by Ramses I. Both the obelisk and the image base mentioned the god ‘Horus of Mesen’ (Seth), often referred to as the god of the Eastern Delta’s fourteenth nome.

Although from an early time in Egyptian history Seth was regarded as a god of Upper Egypt, he was also associated with the area of the Eastern Delta at the frontier, near the start of the Sinai desert and the road to Asia. It is even thought the whole of the fourteenth nome, the north-eastern area of the Delta between Kantarah and the ancient Pelusiac branch of the Nile, was named Sethroite after him.

From the end of the Sixth Dynasty, during the twenty-second century BC, Seth, as mentioned earlier, became discredited as a result of the development of the myth that he had been responsible for the assassination of the good god Osiris: he became associated with Evil and is the source of the later name Satan. However, after another four centuries, as we saw in Chapter Eleven, Nehesy, a king of the weak Thirteenth Dynasty, re-established the worship of ‘Seth, Lord of Avaris’ as the chief deity of the fourteenth nome. According to Manfred Bietak, the Austrian Egyptologist: ‘Nehesy (c. 1715 BC) is known from several monuments as the first king with the title: Beloved of Seth, Lord of Avaris. This Seth later became the principal god of the Hyksos, but was clearly established in Avaris by the local dynasty before the rise of the Hyksos rule.’5

An obelisk of this Nehesy was found in Tanis, but must have been brought there from its original location as it was not in situ. John van Seters, the American Egyptologist who researched the origins of the Hyksos, tried to identify the obelisk’s origin from its text: ‘On one fragment … were traces of a dedication by the “eldest royal son, Nehesy, beloved of Seth, Lord of Rakhit” and on another fragment the inscription “beloved of Hershef (Arsaphes)”. There is a degree of uncertainty about the location of the place name Rakhit, which means “gateway of the cultivated fields”. The gateway referred to would then be the region of Sile (Zarw), where the cultivated area meets the desert.’6

It is clear that Nehesy established Seth, Lord of Avaris, in the same location as that of Zarw. Further confirmation of this is provided by the 400-year stela, the most important evidence regarding the continuity of worship of the god Seth at Avaris and Pi-Ramses for four centuries. Although the stela was actually found at Tanis, which became the new capital towards the end of the Twenty-first Dynasty and is one of the other sites suggested as the location of Pi-Ramses, it was not in situ, and Jean Clédat, the French Egyptologist, believed that it must have been moved there from Zarw because, although it was made during the reign of Ramses II, it includes a commemoration of an event – the four centuries of worship of Seth – that took place at Zarw during the reign of Horemheb when his grandfather, Ramses I, and father, Seti I, were both Mayors of Zarw and Commanders of the fortress: ‘Now there came the Hereditary Prince; Mayor of the City and Vizier; Fan-Bearer on the Right Hand of the King, Troop Commander; Overseer of Foreign Countries; Overseer of the Fortress of Sile (Zarw); … Seti, the triumphant, the son of the Hereditary Prince; Mayor of the City and Vizier; Troop Commander; Overseer of Foreign Countries; Overseer of the Fortress of Sile; Royal Scribe; and Master of Horse …’7

The celebration of Seth’s worship at Zarw is a further pointer to the fortified city having occupied the same site as Pi-Ramses and Avaris, and the fact that both these high officials of Horemheb, who became the first two kings of the Nineteenth Dynasty, had all their titles relating them to Zarw, and to nowhere else, is a further implication that they must have had a residence at Zarw during their vizierates. It is this residence that is most likely to have been rebuilt to become what was later called Pi-Ramses.

(ii) The Fortified City of Zarw

The first mention we find of Zarw dates from the campaign by Ahmosis I that resulted in the defeat of the Hyksos and the establishing of the Eighteenth Dynasty: ‘The war against the Hyksos may have lasted longer than is usually reckoned … The fall of Avaris is usually put early in the reign of Ahmosis I. Yet the neglected colophon (written section) on the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus tells of fighting in the eleventh year of an un-named king. Since the main text on the papyrus is dated to the thirty-third year of Apophis, whom Kamose (the brother and predecessor of Ahmosis I) opposed, this can only be… a successor … On the twentieth of the first month (of Year 11) “the Southerner” invested the frontier fortress of Zarw, near modern Kantarah, and entered it a few days later …’1

This account makes it clear that Zarw and Avaris occupied the same site. From this point, however, the name Avaris disappears from the scene and the next mention is of Zarw, which occurs more than a century later, during the reign of Tuthmosis III and at the time of the first Asiatic campaign that followed the death of Queen Hatshepsut: ‘Year 22, month four in Peret, day 25 … Zarw, the first victorious expedition …’

Then we have the evidence of the Tuthmosis IV stela, found at Serabet El-Khadim in Sinai, which makes it clear that Neby, his Mayor of Zarw, was also ‘Royal Messenger in all countries, Steward of the Harem of the Royal Wife’, indicating that Tuthmosis IV’s queen, Mutimuya, the mother of Amenhotep III, must have had an estate or residence at Zarw. Björkman, commenting on Neby’s titles, wrote: ‘ … the constellation of titles … might be interpreted as a vague indication of the existence of a harem of the Queen in Zarw, supervised by the local mayor, Neby.’2 There is reference to another ‘Mayor of Zarw’ on jar seals found in the Malkata complex at Thebes in the reign of Amenhotep III, who ultimately made a present of the city to his wife, Queen Tiye. We still have the name as late as the Greek Ptolemaic period, when it was called Sile.

(iii) The Case Against Qantir/Tell el-Dab′a

Manfred Bietak, the Austrian archaeologist in charge of the exca-vations at Tell el-Dab′a and Qantir, which are just over a mile apart, gave an interim report in 1979 on the expedition’s findings.1

To the north of Tell el-Dab′a there is a natural lake basin while old survey maps, partly confirmed by the ground survey, show traces of a feeder-channel from the direction of the former Pelusiac branch of the Nile and a drain-channel flowing from the lake towards the larger Bahr el-Baqar drainage system. North and east of the lake remains were found of the Middle Kingdom (the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties, c. 1991–1785 BC) and the Second Intermediate Period that followed, including the weak Thirteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties (c. 1785–1575 BC), at which time the Asiatics infiltrated the Eastern Delta and began the era of Hyksos rule there that lasted just over a century until they were vanquished in battle by Ahmosis, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1575 BC). Among other finds in this new area were the lintel of a house belonging to vizier Paser of Ramses II and, almost two miles to the east of Tell el-Dab′a, an old well bearing the same king’s name.

In all, eleven strata were found. The remains at the very bottom belonged to the earliest settlement, starting some time before 1750 BC, and the latest an early Ptolemaic settlement of a limited area, dated to the third century BC. The strata covering the Hyksos period (E3-1 and D3-2) are characterized by increasing density of occupation. The remains of two Canaanite temples were found, dating from c. 1690–1660 BC and 1660–1630 BC respectively, and there was evidence that from about 1630–1610 BC to 1610–1590 BC the settlement began to develop its own Asiatic cultural line, distinct from Syria and Palestine. The site was largely abandoned after the Hyksos period, but occupied again towards the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the time of Horemheb. Remains of a temple were found, including a lintel of a sanctuary dedicated to ‘Seth, great of might’ and bearing the name of Horemheb.

Bietak encapsulated the expedition’s conclusions in the following words: ‘To summarise briefly, apart from the later remains there is evidence, extending through a series of strata, of a huge town site of an Asiatic (Canaanite) community of the Syro-Palestiniân Middle Bronze Age Culture IIA and B in the north-eastern Nile Delta from the time of the Thirteenth Dynasty until the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Although several other sites of this culture have been discovered and identified since the beginning of our excavations, Tell el-Dab’a is the largest and most impressive of all the sites, and, by its fine stratigraphie series and abundant excavated material, the most representative.’2

He went on to say: ‘The temples of stratum E3–2 are Canaanite, and the size of the main sacred area excavated thus far shows that we have here, at the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period, the most important city-state of the Syro-Palestinian Middle Bronze Age Culture in the eastern Nile delta. It is not difficult to deduce, therefore, that this Asiatic community, after it had had time to establish itself in the eastern Nile delta, must have been responsible for the Hyksos rule in Egypt …

‘After a break in occupation we have evidence of a pre-planned town of the Ramesside Period covering four to five square kilometres (some 250 acres).’

In this final statement, Bietak is not commenting on the results of the excavations at Tell el-Dab′a, but has introduced the remains at Qantir, just over a mile to the north, without any justification beyond the proximity of the two locations. And what conclusion did he come to about the implications of the expedition’s findings? ‘All the evidence taken together – the cultural and the stratigraphic – would fit well with the identification of the site on the one hand with the capital of the Hyksos, Avaris, and on the other with the delta residence of the Ramessides, Pi-Ramses, as already maintained by M. Hamza, W. C. Hayes, L. Habachi and John van Seters.’3

In fact, in the light of what is known about Pi-Ramses, rather than confirming the Tell el-Dab′a site as that of Pi-Ramses/Avaris, the results obtained by the Austrian expedition make such a conclusion impossible:

•  Pi-Ramses/Avaris, according to the Nineteenth Dynasty texts we examined earlier, lay in the vicinity of, and beyond, Zarw. Zarw was a frontier fortress, the forefront of every foreign land, the end of Egypt, located between Palestine and Egypt. This description cannot be applied to Tell el-Dab′a which, while beside the Nile and in the Eastern Delta, was situated some thirty miles inland from the ‘end of Egypt’;

•  Pi-Ramses lay in the centre of a great vineyard. There is nothing in the evidence found at Tell el-Dab′a to confirm, or even indicate, that it was a wine-producing area. The five ostraca of wine jars found at nearby Qantir were said to have come from the west of Pi-Ramses. This location was not identified, however, and could therefore well have been in another area. Moreover, the stela of Kamose, brother of Ahmosis, who drove out the Hyksos, makes it clear that Avaris, their capital, was in a wine-producing area because one of the threats contained in the stela is that, when Avaris has been taken, ‘I shall drink of the wine of your vineyard, which the Asiatics I captured press out for me.’

The existence of vineyards at Pi-Ramses is also confirmed by the Papyrus Anastasi, and remains of wine jars, originating from Zarw, that were found in the Malkata palace as well as in Tutankhamun’s tomb, confirm that Zarw was also a wine-producing area. We know from other sources that, in addition, the area west of Alexandria as well as Memphis and Fayyum were wine-producing areas, but there is none to indicate that either Qantir or Tell el-Dab′a were;

•  Pi-Ramses could be reached by water from Memphis. This is equally true of Tell el-Dab′a. However, we have the story about the three stele sent from the place where Pharaoh was in residence – Memphis, probably – that had to be unloaded at the ‘Dwelling of Ramses, Beloved of Amun’ after passing through the fortress of Zarw. Bietak suggests4 that, after arriving at Zarw, the stele were taken by water to Pi-Ramses, which is for him Qantir/Tell el-Dab’a. This does not make sense. In the first place, the letter to the Royal Butler speaks of the stele being unloaded after the vessel had passed Zarw and then being dragged into position; secondly, if they had been en route from Memphis to Qantir/Tell el-Dab′a, why would they first be transported to Zarw on the frontier, some thirty miles to the east, and then brought back? Any vessel proceeding from Memphis to Zarw along the former Pelusiac branch of the Nile would have had to pass Qantir/Tell el-Dab’a. Why continue the voyage to Zarw when, if Qantir/Tell el-Dab’a was the ultimate destination, it would have been simpler to leave the river and use the canal that connected it with the harbour lake to the north of Tell el-Dab′a?;

•  Pi-Ramses was connected by water with the fortress of Zarw and with the Waters of Shi-hor (north and north-west of Zarw) and the Waters of Pa-Twfy, that supplied it with papyrus and has been identified as Lake Ballah, to the south of Zarw, and as the pleasure lake mentioned in Amenhotep III’s scarab. In the sense that Qantir/Tell el-Dab’a had a harbour linked by canal to the Nile, it is possible to say that it was also linked by water with the Waters of Shi-hor and the Waters of Pa-Twfy. This link is a tenuous one, however: one might equally well argue that Qantir/Tell el-Dab′a was linked by water with Thebes, some 400 miles away, or any other locality on the eight branches of the Nile at that time. The logical inference from the mention of the two places being linked by water is that they were close together, as one might say that the Isle of Wight is linked by water with the coast of Hampshire, the nearest point on the British mainland.

All three locations – the fortress of Zarw, the Waters of Shi-hor (described in the Bible as marking the frontier of Egypt) and the Waters of Pa-Twfy – may be said therefore to be linked with other places in Egypt by water, but they do form part of the Zarw area itself;

•  Seth was the main god of Pi-Ramses/Avaris. Although temples of Seth were found at Tell el-Dab′a in the areas dating from the Middle Kingdom and the time of Horemheb, no mention of him has been found in the areas dating from either the Hyksos or Ramesside periods. As for Qantir, although Seth was one of the gods worshipped there, the main deity was certainly Amun, according to the discoveries of the Egyptian archaeologist Muhammad Hamza. In 1928 Hamza unearthed a large number of faience tiles that came from a Ramesside palace in the Qantir area. The palace had been built by Seti I and enlarged by Ramses II. Hamza also found at a little distance to the north a faience factory, including around 800 moulds with different names and titles. The palace remains, including the workshop area, are in excess of 300 square yards. Two statues of Ramses II were found at Qantir. The temple area, which might have included more than one temple, is roughly 600 square yards, and a number of doors of private houses were also discovered.

Yet neither the name of Pi-Ramses nor any of the main deities we know to have been worshipped there were found at Qantir, even on the 800 different moulds. In fact a completely different epithet was found on some of them, ‘in the land of Amun’, on which Hamza commented: ‘Qantir was considered indeed the land of Amun. Under Ramses III, this god was worshipped at Qantir with the peculiar title “He who hears the one who is far away”. ‘5 It is true to say that Amun, in addition to Seth, was included among the main gods in the Ramses city, but there he had a different epithet – ‘Amun of Ramses, Beloved of Amun’ – that has never been found in the Qantir area.

We have no archaeological evidence as yet about the identity of the main god worshipped at Zarw and shall have to await the results of the current excavation by the Egyptian Organization of Antiquity;

•  Pi-Ramses/Avaris were situated in the fourteenth Egyptian nome. This is also true of Qantir/Tell el-Dab′a and Zarw. It is now accepted by all scholars that Zarw was the capital of that nome. Yet, if Pi-Ramses was the capital of the entire Empire, how could it be less important than Zarw in its own nome?

•  One essential point about Pi-Ramses/Avaris is that they were both military fortified areas. Each had a fortress that was rebuilt at least three times – by the kings of the Middle Kingdom, rebuilt by the Hyksos and later refortified by the kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Although we know from Manetho’s writings; the stela of Kamose, brother of Ahmosis I, who defeated the Hyksos, and the autobiography of Ahmose, one of the king’s naval officers in the campaign, that Avaris was mainly a fortified area, no remains of fortifications of any kind were found in the Hyksos section of the excavations at Tell el-Dab′a. Nor do we find any real remains of Ramesside fortifications at Qantir;

•  Pi-Ramses/Avaris were also called the ‘Dwelling of the Lion’. As no textual evidence has been obtained from either Qantir or Tell el-Dab′a we have no indication from there about this matter, but we know from the very way Zarw was written that a seated lion formed part of its name. Furthermore, according to the mythological account of the struggle between Horus of Edfu, the son of Osiris, and Seth, the brother of Osiris who murdered him and took his throne, which appeared in writing during the Ramesside period, it took place at Zarw where Horus took the form of a lion.

As for the suggestion that two neighbouring locations – Tell el-Dab′a, which Bietak takes as Avaris, and Qantir, just over a mile distant, which he takes to represent the Ramesside residence – formed part of the same site, we have no archaeological evidence to support this assumption, no ancient connecting road, no walls enclosing both locations or, as in the case of Akhenaten’s pre-planned new capital at Amarna, no boundary stelae. We are asked to take Bietak’s word for it. The area that separates the two locations has yielded nothing to suggest that they formed one ancient site. In addition, we know that the Ramessides built their residence on the existing site of Avaris, whereas the site of Qantir had not previously been used.

We also know that the siege of Avaris conducted by Ahmosis lasted for many months. The reason was that he could not assault it on foot, but had to approach by water. In the case of Zarw, the Waters of Shi-hor covered the approaches to the north and west, the Waters of Pa-Twfy protected the south, and a canal, crossed by a guarded bridge, connected the two waters, closing off the west side completely. To the east lay the Sinai desert. That is why Ahmosis’ siege lasted so long. In the case of Qantir and Tell el-Dab′a, however, both locations were easily accessible by land from almost any direction, as well as lacking the heavy fortifications to resist an attack.

Furthermore, the Tell el-Dab′a excavations have revealed no settlement in the area from the end of the Hyksos rule to the time of Horemheb. If Pi-Ramses is to be regarded as the Ramses of the Old Testament, the city rebuilt by the Israelites – who arrived in Egypt in the reign of Amenhotep III and settled in the very Pi-Ramses area – the lack of any trace of their existence at Tell el-Dab’a is yet another indication that this cannot have been the site of Pi-Ramses. In any case, as I believe the Israelites had already left Egypt proper for Sinai during the second year of Ramses I, the city of Ramses must have started before that date.

(iv) A Theban Site for Tiye’s City

One scholar who has championed a site for Zarw-kha, Tiye’s city, distant from the Eastern Delta is Georg Steindorff, the German Egyptologist, who suggested that the pleasure lake referred to in the scarab was actually the lake known today as Birket Hapu, which was dug to the south-east of Amenhotep III’s Malkata royal compound at Western Thebes, where it served as a palace harbour connected to the Nile. Steindorff was led to this view because the Malkata complex was known as ‘The House of Neb-Maat-Re Aten Gleams’, which repeats the name of the vessel in the pleasure lake scarab. However, scholars have not been happy with this theory for a variety of reasons:

1  None of the many inscriptions found that bear the name Malkata mentions Zarw-kha or relates Malkata to Queen Tiye;

2  The dimensions of Birket Hapu are 2750 by 1080 yards, about four times the size of the pleasure lake, and there is no evidence that Birket Hapu was enlarged after its original construction;

3  While the Malkata remains prove that the king was there from his early years – Year 8 has been found – the majority of the buildings in the Malkata compound, which would have been accompanied by the construction of the lake, do not seem to have been built before the beginning of Amenhotep’s third decade, contradicting the scarab date of Year 11 ;

4  As the scarab lake covers an area of about 720, 000 square yards, it would not have been possible to complete it in fifteen days unless it involved digging a short canal to fill an existing depression with the waters of the Nile: a much bigger, artificial lake like Birket Hapu must have taken far longer to create.

(v) A Middle-Egypt Site for Tiye’s City

More recently, the fact that a similar name to Zarw-kha – Darwha – has been found on two papyri of the Twentieth Dynasty led Yoyotte to suggest1 the possibility of identifying Tiye’s city with the location mentioned in these Ramesside texts – the vicinity of the city of Akhmim in Middle Egypt. As some of the titles held by Yuya and Tuya, the parents of Queen Tiye, indicate that they held positions in Akhmim, it has been thought by many scholars that this must have been their city of origin. On the other hand, while it is possible that Tuya could have come from Akhmim, Yuya has been suspected of being of non-Egyptian origin (and I have argued that he was actually Joseph, the Israelite Patriarch).

But even if, as Yoyotte suggests, Tiye was born in Akhmim, this does not make it her city in the sense that she owned it, which is the implication of the scarab text. Furthermore, Yoyotte places Tiye’s city as being in the vicinity of Akhmim, in which case, on the basis of Yoyotte’s own argument, ‘her city’ cannot have even been the city of her birth, but another city which she acquired later, and the scarab reference cannot relate to Akhmim. Nor is Akhmim called Zarw-kha in any text. Finally, as the location suggested by Yoyotte comes from a Twentieth Dynasty text, this could have been a new place that did not exist at the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty two centuries earlier.

Yoyotte has put forward this alternative siting for Tiye’s city because he objects to the identification of the border city of Zarw on mainly philological grounds, his reason being that the name Zarw-kha is spelt in the scarab with different hieroglyphic signs from those we find in other texts:


If we take away the two final signs, as they are not to be regarded as letters but determinatives indicating a city, we are left with five letters. And if we take off the final letter ‘kha’, image as it is not to be regarded as part of the name but merely as indicating that the name belongs to a city, we are left with four signs on the scarab. image Henri Naville, the Swiss Egyptologist, has been able to show that the first sign in Zarw, image is the equivalent of the Hebrew letter sadhê, the Arabic çade, the same as the other hieroglyphic first letter appearing in the other texts image.2 (The fact that there is no matching letter either in Greek or Western languages explains why different readings – Thel, Sile and Djarw as well as Zarw – occur.) In a private discussion Yoyotte agreed that Naville’s interpretation of the first sign on the scarab was correct. He also has no quarrel with the final hieroglyph, image which can be interpreted as either ‘w’ or ‘u’. It is the symbols in between which persuaded him that we are dealing with two different cities, not one.

On the scarab we have image – that is, the Hebrew and Arabic ′ayin, plus ‘r’ – while in other texts we simply have a seated lion image. However, the distinction is more apparent than real. Naville was also able to show that it was the practice sometimes to use the seated lion, for which the Ancient Egyptian word was ‘′r’ as an alternative method of expressing the two consonants, ′ayin, plus ‘r’: ‘The reading of the lion is ′r; we have a considerable number of examples of it.’ He went on to cite various words sometimes spelt one way, sometimes the other: ‘Therefore in the name image, Zarw, we find according to the usual transcription of Egyptian into Hebrew, צ ע, = ç′ and ר, = r.’3

This would read Ça′rw. In addition, Naville noted that ‘ayin’ in Egyptian is not always used as a consonant and cannot consequently be noted as an essential part of the name.4 There is therefore no philological justification for suggesting that because the name Zarw is written one way on the scarab and with simply the seated lion in other texts, we are dealing with two different cities.

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