#60 – Other Similarities – 1986

Written by Fred Rydholm:

The Elephant Stele is not the only tablet that resembles things from elsewhere. Virginia Hourigan discovered what resembles the cartouche of Merneptah on a stone from the cave; the similarity is very close, but there are obvious notable differences. It seems that a forger could have been more accurate had he wanted to produce a duplicate. Virginia spotted the comparable cartouche in the June 1987 issue of Biblical Archaeologist.

The cartouche in the magazine (dated 1224-1204 or 1213-1203 BC) is on a sword from Ugarit. The article states: “Merneptah, the last of the strong pharaohs of the Nineteenth Dynasty, expelled Libyans from the western Delta region that, during the reigns of earlier pharaohs, had been allowed to fall into foreign hands. This sword gives terminus post quem (the earliest possible date) of material from the stratum in which it was found. Photograph is used courtesy of Claude Schaeffer.”

What could this possibly mean?

Virginia raised the question, “Would someone arriving at the cave five hundred years later leave a cartouche of Merneptah?”

Russell remembers finding the stone in the cave. Virginia took her photo of it in 1986. The magazine was dated 1987, so no one got it from the magazine. Besides, they are not exactly alike. It certainly seems that a forger would have done a better job of copying.

Someday the right scholar will come up with the reasons why the cave cartouche is so similar to yet different from the original.