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Does the Ipuwer Papyrus Provide Evidence for the Events of the Exodus?

Sunday, November 6, 2016 7:01
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Does the Ipuwer Papyrus Provide Evidence for the Events of the Exodus?

The Ipuwer papyrus, also known as the ‘Admonitions of Ipuwer’, is a controversial text that describes starvation, drought, death, and violent upheavals in ancient Egypt, with some maintaining that it is an eyewitness account of the Exodus plagues. Neither the beginning nor end of this work was preserved, leaving historians with difficulty in interpreting the material and reaching a final conclusion about the events it describes.

The Papyrus

Written in a single papyrus, the Admonitions of Ipuwer, (catalogue name Papyrus Leiden 344) is a poetic composition believed to have been written during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom era, a period corresponding to 2050 BC – 1652 BC. The origin of acquisition regarding this document is obscure. It was in possession of the Greek diplomat and merchant Yianni Anastasiou who claimed that the papyrus was discovered at Memphis, in the Saqqara region. It is currently housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Leiden, Netherlands.

The papyrus is fully inscribed from beginning to end on both sides. It consists of 17 complete and incomplete columns of writing.  The back of the papyrus contains hymns to the god Amun but it suffered substantially more damage, causing a larger detrimental effect on its preservation and, therefore, loosing much of its written content.

Depiction of Amun in a relief at Karnak

Depiction of Amun in a relief at Karnak (Public Domain)

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