The author of a new book claims the Jewish prophet Moses was known to ancient Egyptians as Ikhnaton, the ruler and religious reformer.
"I am convinced that I have identified Moses as Ikhnaton, the prophet, poet and king in the 14th century B.C., who shut the temples of the ancient gods, sent the priests home and declared there was only one god," said Ahmed Osman.His book, "Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt," was published in Britain recently by Grafton Books. The U.S. rights are under negotiation.
Osman's first book in 1987, "Stranger in the Valley of Kings," theorized that the mummy of a royal official named Yuya was Joseph, the biblical figure with the coat of many colors who led the tribe of Israel into Egypt.
Osman, 55, an Egyptian who has pursued research in Egyptology and the Bible in London for 25 years, is regarded by academics as a controversial but respected outsider.
Younes Ahmed el-Batrik, cultural counselor at the Egyptian Embassy, held a reception Thursday night to launch Osman's book. "It's a very interesting subject and a very controversial book and I will be interested to hear what the experts say about it," he said.
In identifying Moses with Ikhnaton, Osman builds on Sigmund Freud's last book, "Moses and Monotheism," in which the father of psychoanalysis commented on the similarity of the teachings of the two ancients.
Sydney Leperer, a senior history lecturer at Jews' College, University of London, said of Osman's Ikhnaton-Moses theory: "There is a faint possibility that it is true, although I have my doubts."
Donald B. Redford, professor of Near Eastern studies at Toronto University and an expert on Ikhnaton, scoffed at the theory.
"There is no evidence that Ikhnaton was a man called Moses and the religious teachings of Ikhnaton have nothing to do with Moses, who appears to have lived five centuries after him or longer," Redford said in a telephone interview.
Naim Dangoor, editor of The Scribe, a journal on Babylonian Jewry, said he had read and reviewed both of Osman's books. Osman "knows a great deal about the period," and his theories "invite further investigation," Dangoor said.
Osman said in an interview that scholars had always had difficulty establishing links between any of the important figures in the Old Testament and Egyptian history.
"I believe that Moses had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father," he said.
"He was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, daughter of Joseph the Patriarch. Tiye's first son had mysteriously disappeared so when Moses was born, Tiye sent him by water for safekeeping to her Israelite relatives. I think that was the origin of the story that Moses was found in the bulrushes on the Nile."
After 17 years as pharaoh, Ikhnaton was deposed and succeeded by the boy prince, Tutankhamen.