Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Remember When . . . The King Was Forgotten?

A painting of Abraham's departure
by József Molnár
I've always been intrigued by Egyptology, so including Egypt in my new biblical idea I'm toying with is a lot of fun. Of course, trying to pinpoint an exact year to set this thing in is more complicated than it sounds. I want my characters to interact with Abram and Sarai, but scholars can't agree on when, exactly they lived. There's quite a range of possible years given, as much as a thousand years apart depending on which school you belong to.

Picking one randomly didn't seem fun, so I instead decided to pick my date based on the history of the pharaohs. And when I was reminded of the missing pharaoh, I decided that would be oh-so-much-fun to explore!

Mentuhotep III, father of the missing pharaoh
See, in the Middle Kingdom, there's this seven year stretch when records of the pharaoh have been obliterated, giving rise to the idea that he was assassinated, overthrown, and his predecessor had his records removed to make himself more legitimate. Archaeologists did eventually find mention of a Mentuhotep IV that seems to fit in that seven-year period...especially when they realized that his vizier (second in command) had a name only one vowel off from the next pharaoh. Obviously, the theory is that the vizier overthrew his pharaoh, seized the crown, and so began the twelfth dynasty.

I love this! Not just because of the intrigue, but because that lack of record gives me freedom to create this pharaoh however I please. =) The other theory (about the change of dynasty) is that Mentuhotep just died without heirs, but I don't know why he would have been erased from the records in that case...so I decided he has daughters. That'll work. And a sister. A sister named Aziza...

And working from this theory also gives me a great character in the vizier, Amenemhet. (I'm calling him Nem. I can only go so far with this unpronouncable-to-English-speaker names, LOL.) What kind of guy would be a king's dedicated right hand, only to kill him and take his crown after seven years? The same kind I need for my story, mwa ha ha ha. And of course, I always explain the motivation through my totally-fictional characters.

Relief of Amenemhet from his mortuary temple
This is going to be fun! Disappearing kings, usurping viziers, undiscovered history...oh yeah. Just my speed.

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