That Time I Stretched the Research

Now about those horses

Okay, so after my #bronzeageproblems post you can probably see pretty easily all the unexpected difficulty that comes with setting a story in a time period that is in many ways very alien to our own. And unfortunately the Bronze Age had one more curveball to throw at me.

The horses.

Oh, the horses.

So, the first attestation we have of horses in Egypt dates to around 1700 BC, during a time called The Second Intermediate Period. This is less than two hundred years after my setting for the Joseph story, but it’s still off. That said, the first domestication of horses in general probably took place on the Eurasian Steppes around two thousand years prior to that, and horses had made it to Mesopotamia by 2000 BC.

Now, I had already planned for horses to be a decently large plot point in the story, so you can (once again) imagine my groans when I found this out. Domesticated horses exist, just not in the right place.


Here’s the deal though. Our records of Egyptian history can be pretty thorough in some regards, and insanely spotty in others.

Want proof? After Cleopatra, if you’re forced to think of another Egyptian Queen, you might come up with Hatshepsut. Who was she? Like Cleopatra, she was a lady with drive. She married her half-brother (yes, moving on) the Pharaoh Thutmose II, and when he died, she decided that she would be Pharaoh instead of Thutmose III, her stepson and nephew (YES MOVING ON, Egyptian royalty is worse than the Hapsburgs). She reigned for about 22 years.

This beautiful and shockingly modern-looking temple was built for Hatshepsut. My favorite ancient building! 🙂

After her death, Thutmose III and others completed one of the most thorough damnatio memoriae campaigns known to history, (literally) scrubbing her name and likeness from inscriptions and monuments the length of Egypt. It took centuries for Egyptologists to tease out the clues, hints and signs left over of her existence so that we can now tell her story. This practice was common in Ancient Egypt, though not usually on such a large scale.

To come full circle, the point is – ancient humans created cracks in our knowledge of Ancient Egypt. So can time, and sand. New discoveries and new mysteries are uncovered in the realm of Egyptology all the time.

So did I sweat over the idea of stretching the research by including horses in the story as a curiosity owned by the mega-rich in Egypt?


Did I still do it?

Yes. 😉

Do you have any questions you want me to answer? Topics you want me to cover? Comment below, and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @headdeskliz .

Published by headdeskliz

Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of Not by Sight: a novel of the patriarchs. She lives and teaches in sunny California and loves fantasy, science fiction, and historically-based Christian fiction. She has multiple other titles in the works.

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