This article is from
Creation 19(4):6, September 1997

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones available by searching creation.com.

Mammoth among the pharaohs?

by Dennis Swift

A mammoth in an Egyptian painting? Surely not—haven’t we been told in textbooks that mammoths definitely died out some 9,500 years ago?

The fact is, however, that at least a dwarf type of mammoth must have been around some 1500 years before Christ, even by conventional dating.

The photo here (available in Creation magazine) is of a painting in the tomb of Rakh-Mara in the Valley of the Nobles.1 A photo of the same figure also appeared in the prestigious science journal Nature in 1994.2

The tomb relief is about the ivory trade. The Nature item says that the creature is ‘not an immature elephant because of its large tusks’ but its features (including the domed skull) are ‘more like a reconstruction of a living mammoth than an immature elephant.’

The author points out that Egyptian artists were skilled at life-like depictions of animals from which one could scientifically identify them. He thus identifies the bear in the picture as a sub-species of Ursus arctos. Although it is possible that the representation is of a pygmy version of the mammoth, since the man is carrying tusks on his shoulder, he says it is possible that the animal could be ‘symbolic of the ivory’s source rather than intended to be an accurate representation of its size’. This would indicate that the artist likely knew what living full-size mammoths looked like.

Keith Eltringham, a Cambridge University biologist, in his book Elephants, carefully studied the amount of trade in mammoth ivory and concluded ‘remains are so plentiful that it is tempting to wonder if its demise was not more recent … Altogether, it is estimated that the tusks of at least 45,000 mammoths from Siberia have been sold in the past 300 years.’3

When I brought the photographic evidence to the Cairo museum in Egypt, the authorities had never thought of the implications of a mammoth painted on the walls of an Egyptian tomb. This sort of find adds weight to the many other items of evidence (such as rock drawings of dinosaurs4) which indicate that the dates attributed to the extinction of many well known creatures have been substantially skewed by evolutionary/long-age thinking. The real history of the world, according to the Word of God, would indicate that all such extinctions—even the Ice Age5 itself—occurred in the last few thousand years.

Dennis L. Swift, B.A., M.A., M.Div., Ph.D., has been actively engaged in ancient Indian archaeological research and biblical archaeology. His articles on dinosaurs and man have been published in Russia and he has lectured in Russia as well as appearing on Russian television. He is currently pastor of Beaverton Nazarene Church in Beaverton, Oregon, USA. Return to top.

References and notes

  1. The Rakh-Mara tomb is one of the largest of the 18th Dynasty. He served under both Tutmose III and Amon Ofis (Amenoptis) II. Bonechi, All of Egypt, Centro Stampa Editoriale Bonechi, Florence, Italy, p. 92, 1995.
  2. B. Rosen, Mammoths in ancient Egypt? Nature 369:364, 2 June 1994.
  3. S.K. Eltringham, Elephants, Blanford Press, Dorsett, pp. 237–238, 1982.
  4. D. Swift, Messages on Stone, Creation 19(2):20–23, March–May 1997.
  5. For a good perspective on the Ice Age, see Tackling the Big Freeze, Creation 19(1):42–43, December 1996–February 1997. The same issue has photos (pp. 10–13) of living elephants with classic mammoth features.