Joseph-Era Egyptian “Coins”

Jim West and Jim Davila (and Tyler Williams) have comments up about a recent article from the Middle East Media Research Institute claiming Joseph-Era Egyptian coins have been discovered bearing his likeness and name. To the left you can see a photo from the article that appears to show the discovered “coins.”

As an undergrad I worked for two years gathering images and doing charts and some illustrations for an illustrated introduction to the Old Testament, so I feel like I’ve seen just about every photo ever taken of artifacts from the ancient Near East. I recognize a few of the scarabs in the photo on the left (yeah, they’re scarabs, not coins). I can’t find pictures of all of them, but I did find pictures of the two bigger ones on the bottom left and right:

The article says the Qu’ran claims there were coins in Egypt during the time of Joseph, which leads me to believe the article is meant to act as apologetic aimed at substantiating that claim. If the photo is really of the claimed coinage then it’s clearly a hoax.

UPDATE: Michael Heiser weighs in as well with some more detailed concerns.

14 responses to “Joseph-Era Egyptian “Coins”

  • Jim

    btw- what a cute photo on your header! it would be awesome if he had a scarab in his hand!

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    What a good idea. She (I know it’s hard to tell it’s a girl from that photo) would immediately eat anything that small that I put in her hand, though. She’s already developed a distaste for grass.

  • Stephen Smuts

    They are suggesting that coins were minted (conservatively) say 1200 years before all other known coins even started circulating? No, something is very much amiss…

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    Yeah, it makes no sense.

  • Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Coins or Scarabs?

    […] noted in a comment in my last post, Daniel O. McClellan over at his his blog Maklelan, has some possible pictures of the so-called “coins” that were discovered. If he is […]

  • Museum of Egypt cache of coins with Joseph's name and image found

    […] apologetic hoax. Go here: Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot Blog Archive Coins or Scarabs? Joseph-Era Egyptian “Coins” Daniel O. McClellan…ph-discovered/ __________________ Mark Maney Edmonton […]

  • Pat

    Thanks for the info. Supposedly images of a pharaoh or pharaohs are on these items. What pharaoh/s? I’m sure I’m going to hear from somebody on this and I’d like to be able to give them a good answer like the one I gave them on Ron Whatt’s supposed chariot wheels at Eilat which was definitely garbage.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for the comment Pat. The photo provided in the article does not show any images of any pharaoh, so I can’t answer for sure. The most telling problems with the article are the following, though:

      “Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face – just like the coins we use today.”

      Finding these items scattered about in no way, shape, or form, indicates they are coins, neither does their shape, or an inscribed and engraved face. This is presentistic argumentation, trying to link the items in the readers mind to modern ideas about coinage without necessarily supporting the assumption that those ideas should extend back that far, historically. No archaeologist worth his salt would claim the three factors listed above “reveals” that the items were coins. The article follows with another bizarre claim, though:

      “The archeological finding is also based on the fact that the inscribed face bore the name of Egypt, a date, and a value.”

      These three things, taken together, seem to me to be exclusively modern elements of coinage. I don’t think anyone can point to a coin from before the common era in the Near East that lists the nation, a date, and a value. I could be completely wrong about this (I’m not a numismatists), but I know for a fact I’ve never seen a picture of one, and I’ve been through tons of pictures of coins. Had these things actually been a part of the cache of items, they absolutely would not have been considered charms.

      Lastly, writing was not in its infancy, despite this statement: “It was found that the inscriptions of this early period were usually simple, since writing was still in its early stages, and consequently there was difficulty in deciphering the writing on these coins. But the research team [managed to] translate [the writing on the coin] by comparing it to the earliest known hieroglyphic texts.”

      Writing had been developed well over 1000 years earlier, and this time period bears numerous lengthy and often intricate texts. Comparing the writing to the earliest known hieroglyphic texts to decipher them is simply ludicrous.

      • Pat

        I noted your phrase “scattered about”. One of the first things that struck me about the description of the items was that they were in storage. That is, unless they are itemized with good files on paper somewhere, the provenance is GONE. Unlike the recent Anglo-Saxon discovery. So unless the hieroglyphics can be uniquely identified with some pharaoh, saying they belong to the time of Joseph is wishful thinking at best. Thanks for the info.

  • Elin

    with all respect, are we talking about different time here? They look at “coins” from the third dynasty, you are talking about another time I think.
    I would be more open, still a little sceptic until more info is released.
    When it comes to Ron Wyatt, I and many orthers have seen parts of chariot wheels in the red sea amd many other artifact that proves the Sinai to be in Saudi-Arabia.
    People that still believes Sinai to be in the Sinai peninsula (a new name of the aera), have no prove at all.
    regards Elin

  • >Egyptian Coins from Joseph’s Time | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

    […] Daniel McClellan has a post in which he says that the coins in the picture above are not coins but scarabs. Daniel wrote: As an undergrad I worked for two years gathering images and doing charts and some illustrations for an illustrated introduction to the Old Testament, and I recognize a few of the scarabs in the photo on the left (yeah, they’re scarabs, not coins). I can’t find pictures of all of them, but I did find pictures of the two bigger ones on the bottom left and right […]

  • arabianprophets

    The money (dirham) mentioned in the Quran 12:20 refers to a unit of weight used for silver. The word was borrowed from the Greek word ‘drachma’. This Greek loan word was not only used by the Arabs, but by the Romans and the North African states they colonized. The Arabic word for ‘coin’ (nqd) does not appear in the Quran. The Quran is using a silver weight unit in use by the 7th Century Arabs to describe the amount of silver (silver by weight) for which Joseph’s brother’s sold him. Egyptians were mixing gold and silver to form electrum even during the pre-dynastic period. It is always helps to do a bit of research before embarrassing oneself by spreading misinformation.

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