by Mary Nell Wyatt
(first published in newsletter # 3 in 1993)
In our last newsletter, we examined the route taken by Moses and the great multitude as they fled Egypt.
We will now examine the evidences which tell us exactly who were the Egyptian royalties involved and the
approximate date the Exodus occurred. This is a subject that gets quite involved and we will only be able to
present a bare frame of reference in this publication. Bear with us, as we will attempt to present a large amount of
information in a short space.
THE CHARIOT WHEELS
We will begin with the chariot wheels that Ron and the boys found in the Gulf of Aqaba. In 1978, on
their first dive at the site, they found these chariot remains. Like Noah's Ark, these were not in perfect condition
and required careful examination to see exactly what they were. They were covered in coral, which made it
difficult to see them clearly, but it appears that the coral was the agent the Lord used to preserve them.
They found numerous wheels- some were still on their axles, and some were off. They found chariot cabs
without the wheels, also: EXO 14:24 ...in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians
through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot
wheels, that they drave them heavily:...
So far, this coincided with the Biblical account. They found several 6-spoked wheels, as well as an 8-spoked wheel. And finally, in 1988, Ron found the 4-spoked gold chariot wheel, which looks almost perfect. The
reason this one was so well preserved is that coral does not grow on gold. The wood inside the gold "veneer" was
deteriorated, which made it very fragile and for that reason, he has not attempted to retrieve it from the water.
The significance of these wheels is of extreme importance to the dating of the Exodus and determining
which dynasty was involved. Back in the late 70's, Ron actually retrieved a hub of a wheel which had the remains
of 8 spokes radiating outward from it. He took this to Cairo, to the office of Nassif Mohammed Hassan, the
director of Antiquities whom Ron had been working with. Mr. Hassan examined it and immediately pronounced it
to be of the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. When Ron asked him how he knew this so readily, Mr. Hassan
explained that the 8-spoked wheel was only used during the 18th Dynasty. This certainly narrowed the date. We
began to thoroughly research the Egyptian chariot and soon discovered that the fact that Ron and the boys found
4, 6 and 8 spoked wheels places the Exodus in the 18th Dynasty according to numerous sources, such as the
following: "Egyptian literary references to chariots occur as early as the reigns of Kamose, the 17th Dynasty king
who took the first steps in freeing Egypt from the Hyksos, and Ahmose, the founder of the 18th Dynasty. Pictorial
representations, however, do not appear until slightly later in the 18th Dynasty...." (From "Observations on the
Evolving Chariot Wheel in the 18th Dynasty" by James K. Hoffmeier, JARCE #13, 1976)
Here, we learn that it was only at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty that the chariot comes into use in the
Egyptian army. The Bible mentions that in the time of Joseph, chariots were in use, but apparently they weren't
developed sturdily enough for use in war until much later.
The author goes on to explain how it was only during the 18th Dynasty that the 4, 6 and 8 spoked wheels
are used- and that monuments can actually be dated by the number of spokes in the wheel: "Professor Yigael
Yadin maintains that during the earlier part of the 18th Dynasty, the Egyptian chariot was `exactly like the
Canaanite chariot:' both were constructed of light flexible wood, with leather straps wrapped around the wood to
strengthen it, and both utilized wheels with four spokes. In Yadin's eyes, the four-spoked wheel is diagnostic for
dating purposes; it is restricted to the early part of the 18th Dynasty. It remained in vogue, he says, until the reign
of Thutmoses IV, when `the Egyptian chariot begins to shake off its Canaanite influence and undergo considerable
change.' Yadin believes that the eight-spoked wheel, which is seen on the body of Thutmoses IV's chariot, was an
experiment by the Egyptian wheelwrights, who, when it proved unsuccessful, settled thereafter for the six-spoked
wheel. So widespread and meticulous is the delineation of the number of wheel spokes on chariots depicted on
Egyptian monuments that they can be used as a criterion for determining whether the monument is earlier or later
than 1400 BC." (Quoted from the same article as above.)