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Keep the Pyramids, give us the Colosseum

Egypt's absurd obsession with biblical archaeology has done serious harm to the study of Egyptology

Colosseum The Egyptian archaeological community is in a tizzy. They are accusing foreign Egyptologists of being Israeli agents hell bent on altering their history. It seems Israel’s ultimate goal is to reclaim the Pyramids. This charge was recently laid by Amir Gamal of the “Non-Stop Robberies” movement. It was published in Egypt’s Elaph newspaper. Not long ago, Egyptian journalist Ahmad al-Gamal encouraged his government to sue the Jewish state for losses incurred during the 10 plagues, visited upon Egypt during the biblical exodus. Also, the Torah claims that the Israelite slaves took Egypt’s gold with them to the Promised Land. Al-Gamal wants the gold or an equal sum in U.S. dollars – with 3500 years of compounded interest – paid by Israel to Egypt.

Some of this is funny, and some of this is not. When I filmed archaeology in Egypt in 2004 for a documentary film on the biblical Exodus, the Egyptians were watching us like hawks. In Egypt, the bible is current history. Even though the Qur’an says that the biblical Exodus is a historical fact, modern Arab regimes see Mideast history as a zero-sum game – if it’s good for the Jews, it’s bad for the Arabs. So any archaeology connected to the biblical Exodus is suppressed for fear that it might support Israel’s claims in the area. For example, a statue discovered at Avaris in the Delta is thought by some scholars to be a representation of the biblical Joseph. Because of the possible connection with the Jewish patriarch, the statue has now “disappeared” from the Cairo museum. It wasn’t easy for the statue to disappear, since it weighs a ton.

More than this, Egypt’s obsession with biblical archaeology influences the views of Egyptologists. If you claim you have found proof of the biblical Exodus, they ban you from Egypt. If you’re an Egyptologist, that’s a big problem. So – not surprisingly – Egyptologists tend to find nothing connected to the Israelites. Recently, Charles University professor Miroslav Barta tried to connect the bible to Egyptian archaeology. As a result, he’s being accused of working for the Mossad. His mission: falsify Egyptian history. Not exactly a climate for free academic debate.

pyramidsHere’s what I think: they can keep the Pyramids, we didn’t build them. They had been around for a thousand years before Moses was born. Having said this, in return for us dropping our claims to the Pyramids, they should pay us for years of slavery and stop bullying Western academics.

On a related note, Jewish slaves built the Colosseum in Rome. Jewish masons cut the stone, and the money that financed the project came from the Roman looting in 70 C.E. of the Temple in Jerusalem. There is an inscription that proves this. We built it, we paid for it, it’s time to get it back. I would move it to Israel’s south, near the border with Gaza. First of all, I could get exclusive documentary filming rights to the process of moving the Colosseum from Italy to Israel. Besides, this feat of modern engineering would right a historical wrong, increase tourism to an area that has been suffering under Hamas rockets fired from Gaza and make the world more sensitive to those rockets – because instead of landing in Israeli towns, they would now be landing on a UNESCO cultural site.

About the Author
Simcha Jacobovici is a Canadian-Israeli filmmaker and journalist. He is a three-time Emmy winner for “Outstanding Investigative Journalism” and a New York Times best selling author. He’s also an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at Huntington University, Ontario.