The Mural at Beni Hasan

A rare visual insight was left to us from the time of the 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Sesostris II (ca.1892 BC). Found in a tomb is a mural that is both painted and inscribed with the highlights of an ancient provincial Governor. One highlight is a visit from the “Aamu” or “Asiatics” of Syro-Canaan . The mural records life as the Egyptians saw it. The Egyptians distinguished themselves from non-Egyptians by the color that they painted the skin. Red is for Egyptians, Nubians have a darker skin and yellow is strictly for the Mediterranean world foreigners. Clothing is distinct with the Egyptians wearing the traditional white linen kilt and the Asiatics mostly clothed with very colorful and intricately patterned robes and kilts. The Asiatics were known for regularly crossing the Sinai from Canaan into Egypt and the mural shows travel by donkey and foot. The inscription records thirty-seven people in this group and that they brought stibium with them. Stibium is a black cosmetic prized by the Egyptians for use as eye paint. The donkeys appear to be carrying carpets or rolls of colored cloth and metal working tools. Perhaps this is an extended family of traders and travelling metal workers. Egyptians were usually clean shaven on both the face and the head, but depicted here wearing wigs, which were for special occasions, as well as having the “royal” goatee. The Asiatics have full heads of hair and full beards without mustaches. This Egyptian mural illuminates the people and histories to be found in the Bible. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob crossed the Sinai into Egypt. They were welcomed, but still foreigners. They were wealthy like traders would be. The mural sheds light on Joseph’s coat of many colors. His clean shaven face and head while wearing a wig, a royal goatee and black eye paint reveal why his brothers couldn’t recognize him. The murals large group is reminiscent of Jacob and family coming to Egypt. This Egyptian mural is a testimony of the cultural and historical truths of their day. On how they saw the Asiatics –the contemporaries of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Patriarchs of our faith.

Byers, G (2009). The Beni Hasan Asiatics and the Biblical Patriarchs, Bible & Spade.


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