Coming This Fall, "The Exodus Conspiracy" -- Dr. Lennart Moller resurrects Ron Wyatt's photograph of a gilded chariot wheel
Ron Wyatt’s photo of a “gilded chariot wheel” allegedly from the Egyptian army that chased the Hebrews as they fled during the Exodus.
An email has begun proliferating this year titled, “The Red Sea Crossing,” or, “Parting of the Red Sea,” or, “Chariot Wheels Found in Red Sea,” and it is being passed around so much with so little investigation that Snopes.com has begun a page on the email and its claims. I suspect that the email is part of an advertising campaign for a film due out in Fall 2008, starring a creationist named Dr. Lennart Moller (not an archeologist, but a biologist) and titled, “The Exodus Conspiracy”
A previous film made for TV by the same company has already popularized the alleged “golden/gilded chariot wheel” that the late Ron Wyatt (another non-archeologist) “discovered in the Red Sea," where "Pharaoh's" chariots were allegedly swallowed up when two huge walls of water slammed together on either sides of them. (See the Bible's Exodus tale.)
The made for TV film also featured Dr. Lennart Moller and was titled, “The Exodus Revealed” and one portion of it featured not the actual “gilded wheel” photographed by Wyatt but a digital “recreation” of it
Announcer: “While most of the possible artifacts found off the coast of Nuweiba are covered with coral, one significant discovery was not.”
Dr. Lennart Moller: “There is one find at the Nuweiba location that is of great interest, and that is the gilded wheel. [digital ‘recreation’ appears on screen, based on photo taken by Ron Wyatt] It is a wooden basic structure of the wheel and it is covered with gold or electrum, a mixture of silver and gold, and corals have not been able to grow on it. [really? why not? see questions below] It’s been very well preserved, although it’s very fragile. It seems like the wooden content has been dissolved. So I mean you could break it if you tried to remove it.”
Announcer: “After its discovery the fragile wheel-shaped veneer was photographed, then left in place on the sea floor. Later analysis revealed that its dimensions and design resembled four-spoked chariot wheels painted on an 18th Dynasty tomb wall near the biblical date of the Exodus.”
Note that Moller does not say he discovered this “gilded wheel,” nor that he saw it, photographed it, nor touched it. There is no undersea footage of the “gilded wheel” in the film but merely a digital “reconstruction” of a photograph taken by Wyatt in the 1970s. But note that although almost no coral is shown touching this bright shiny wheel, based on Wyatt's photo, still there are plenty of thick corals growing on one another and seen all over the actual seabed of the Red Sea as shown in the film. Neither does Wyatt's original photo provide clear evidence as to whether the small piece of coral seen on the wheel simply was placed there or not, it doesn’t seem particularly well attached, not compared with the vast conglomerations of corals in the general area. And contra a statement made by Dr. Moller in the film, there does not appear to be any reason why coral should not be able to grow on an object made of gold, silver or a mixture of both, as any archeologist can demonstrate who has dug up objects made of all sorts of ancient precious metals from the sea with coral growing on them.
Even a Christian on the web has pointed out:
“Can coral grow on gold? Yes. Coral is not a plant, it is an animal, and it does not get its nutrients from the soil or rock it grows on. Instead, it eats zooplankton and other small marine bugs, and it gets its calcium, amino acids, etc. from the surrounding sea water. To structurally support themselves, corals grow next to each other and harden together, forming reefs. Thus they could grow on anything!! It doesn't matter. Coral also uses photosynthesis to make sugars out of sunlight. The only way they wouldn't grow on gold is if it were toxic to coral. I do not think this is the case, since gold has little or no affinity for binding oxygen, carbon, or nitrogen. The only thing it really has an affinity for is sulfur. So if sulfur is necessary for coral to live, then perhaps.... The only thing that my pharmacology book says gold inhibits is mycobacterium tuberculosis, nothing else. Besides the point, however, I'm all for historical evidence of the Bible, but this guy's argument is so ridiculously flawed that it's an embarrassment to believers.”
Also, after 3,500 years of water flowing into the Red Sea and carrying sand and silt along with it, that’s the deepest that such a wheel has become buried? It looks like it’s barely beneath the sand. Why is this “gilded wheel” not covered by several feet of silt and sand after 3,500 years?
Neither do Wyatt’s and Moller’s separate tales add up concerning such a gilded wheel. On the one hand Wyatt claimed in the 1970s to have photographed such a wheel and then “presented it” to Nassif Mohammed Hassan who worked at the Cairo museum whom Wyatt has on tape saying that it “resembled an ancient Egyptian chariot wheel.” (However what studies did Hassan made of the wheel if any? Did he actually handle it? What evidence is there that Hassan was “presented with” anything more than just a photograph of the wheel?) Then Hassan died a few years later. So he’s no longer available for questioning. Now compare Moller’s story in his video which speaks about the “gilded chariot wheel” as if it were extremely fragile, made of 3,500 year old “wood covered with gold or electrum, a mixture of silver and gold. And it’s very fragile. It seems like the wooden content has been dissolved. So you could break it if you tried to remove it,” and the announcer described it as nothing more than a “fragile wheel-shaped veneer.” So if Moller is right, how did Wyatt “remove” such a "fragile wheel-shaped veneer" and “present” it to the person at the museum without breaking it?*
*Maybe Moller interprets Wyatt’s story as merely the story of a photograph “presented” to Hassan, not “the wheel” itself?
Even the few photographs taken by Wyatt are not explicitly stated to be of just one wheel or of two different gilded chariot wheels. But even if there was one 3,500 year old gilded wheel solid enough to be lifted out of the sea and presented to Hassan, and a second gilded wheel in the Red Sea yet undiscovered and too fragile to excavate -- then in either case God’s providence or chance seems to have made it impossible to investigate either “wheel” story via direct investigation of the alleged “wheels,” nor via interviewing Wyatt or Hassan.
In fact there is no evidence other than Wyatt's photograph of how large the alleged "gilded wheel" was, and so it could have been smaller than a chariot wheel because it is difficult to judge an objects size in a photograph unless you place something right next to the object like a yardstick, coin, or other object of known size. Also how do we know for sure that the object was made of gold? It might have been made merely of shiny brass and be a far younger object that recently was tossed into the water, so young that it lay near the surface, was still shiny enough to catch Wyatt's eye, and also young enough such that coral had not had time to cement itself on it. (See the other modern day wheel shaped objects pictured further below.)
Below are links to another portion of the made-for-TV-film that features footage of coral formations and focuses only on those that one might imagine might have been formed around decaying chariot wheels:
Mt. Sinai, Moses & the Exodus - Part 8 of 10
Even in a conservative Christian news source like Worldnetdaily.com, Wyatt's own wife is reported as urging "caution" before jumping to conclusions, and admits a lot of coral looks like “wheels” or other alleged chariot parts. The article, titled, “Pharaoh’s chariots found in Red Sea?” also admits that the one “golden chariot wheel” that Wyatt allegedly discovered cannot be found anywhere.
SEVEN Criticisms of Wyatt’s Claim that he discovered and photographed a 3,500 year old “Egyptian Chariot Wheel”
1) While the image could be better, the above photo doesn’t show any of the type of segmenting that the chariot in the earlier museum photo exhibits. Nor does it seem to have the types of joins shown in drawings of Eqyptian chariot wheels. Someone else has already mentioned that the hub of the ocean “wheel” is greatly different then the one in the museum. The style seems more modern and looks as if the edges are milled to be beveled.
2) As to the coral formations. I don’t think anyone has brought up that coral often is spherical and or radial. I haven’t seen any convincing arguments that the formations aren’t natural. Keep in mind that different types of coral grow on top of each other. So given enough coral, time, and space all sorts of shapes are possible.
3) Cnidarians are simple, radially symmetrical, animals. Radial symmetry means that the body is a hub, like a bicycle wheel, and tentacles are spokes coming out of it.
4) I’m at a loss as to how a Saudi Law prevents anyone on the Egypt side of the sea from bringing up objects [am I missing something here?]. If they do not bring up items out of respect/fear for Saudi Law, then how did they bring up the bone?
5) Even if it turns out that the formations aren’t natural it doesn’t mean they’re chariot wheels. There is certainly more than one ship that has been lost in the Red Sea. Google: shipwreck “red sea” 5,790 matches.
6) The film features an examination of the “spokes” of various wheel-shaped coral formations and the discovery of positive metal detector readings and rust being associated with the coral. But 1446 BC is too early for extensive use of iron and Egyptian chariots didn't use much metal. The spokes were wooden. Small amounts of iron had been available to the Egyptians for a long time but we should not be seeing much, if any, at an 18th Dynasty site. We really do need better evidence for the Exodus than counting the number of spokes a coral formation appears to have. Iron Age I starts at 1200 BCE See also this and this about thehistory of metal usage. “Iron was first employed as a technology of war about 1300 B.C. by the Hittites. Within a hundred years the secret of iron making and cold forging had spread at least to Palestine and Egypt and, perhaps, to Mesopotamia as well.”
7) Comparison of Wyatt's golden chariot wheel...
...with some modern day objects found on ships and other machines.
REVIEW OF DR. MOLLER’S BOOK, THE EXODUS CASE, which was published in 2002 and inspired the made-for-TV-film, and the move to be released Fall 2008:
Lennart Moller specializes in the earth hazards of air pollutants and the damage to DNA that they cause. Since 2001, he has been a professor of environmental medicine in the department of bioscience at Karolinska Institutet, one of Europe's largest medical universities and Sweden's main center for medical training and research. Beside his academic duties, Moller is an active member of Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen, founded in 1856, a missionary organization within the Church of Sweden. He has edited and authored books on ethics and Gospel exegesis and recently a volume on biblical archaeology, The Exodus Case.
This book is the fruit of extensive travels in the Near East and Egypt. Its stated main purpose is to test a hypothesis: that the biblical texts of Genesis 11:27 through Exodus 40:38 are historically correct. A secondary purpose is to evaluate and expand upon the works of the late Ron Wyatt (1933-1999)... There are disturbing signs already in the hook's introduction. First, it is naive to judge these long texts, preserved through thousands of years of oral and written traditions, as either true or false in their entirety. Academic historians evaluate discrete factual statements, not entire books at one go. But Moller emphasizes that he is neither a theologian, a historian, nor an archaeologist. In fact, he underlines that he does not know what these disciplines believe regarding the questions he takes on. Moller feels that he can thereby offer a fresh perspective.
Then there are the references to Ron Wyatt. If ever there was a true native of Daniken Laird, it was Wyatt. His writings on biblical archaeology are such extreme flights of fancy that even many creationist debaters dismiss them as wild imaginings.
While ostensibly scientific, Moller's perspective is at the same time explicitly antirational (p. 15). We should not be too sure of ourselves and our powers of reasoning. Only God is perfect, says Moller, and humankind is frail and weak...
Moller sets out on his biblical trek through time and space from Abraham in Ur to Moses on Mount Sinai.. He searches intensively for anything that fits with it. The idea that the selected texts are historically true is not a hypothesis for Moller, it is the basic axiom of his investigation. To the extent that he takes his pseudo-Popperian philosophy of science seriously at all, Moller appears to feel that the task of disproving the hypothesis is the reader's job, not his.
Moller stomps in brandishing revealed truth... The book interfoliates a Bible summary with absolutely vertiginous speculations in archaeology, history, geology, and onomastics (the study of the origins and forms of words). Gomorrah was located on the plain between the hilltop stronghold of Masada and the Dead Sea. The reason that there is now only a gypsum formation to be seen there is that the wicked city was built of limestone and destroyed in a rain of burning sulphur: limestone + sulphur = gypsum! Joseph, son of Jacob, is identical with Imhotep, the architect of the Stepped Pyramid at Saqqara. This identification moves the Third Dynasty a thousand years forward in time from its accepted date. This does not appear to trouble Moller, as he feels that the dynastic chronology of Egypt contains serious uncertainties. Moses is identical with Pharaoh Tutmosis II, as indicated by, among other things, the fact that the Pharaoh is depicted with a hooked nose, suggesting a Hebrew heritage! And so on. Wherever Moller goes, what he sees turns out to be relevant to his search. He finally finds Mount Sinai...
AUTHOR OF THE ABOVE REVIEW: Martin Rundkvist, review, is an archaeologist specializing in the pre- and protohistory of Scandinavia. He is a member of the board of the Swedish skeptic organization, Vetenskap och Folkbildning, and co-editor of the association's quarterly, Folkvett. He lives in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, 400 meters from a Viking-period cemetery.
DETAILED DOCUMENTATION OF WYATT'S QUESTIONABLE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS AND ACTIVITIES
Wyatt Archaeological Research – Fraud Documentation
Ron Wyatt's archeological claims
Ron Wyatts supernatural claims
Who's Who in the World of Ron Wyatt?
A Review of The Exodus Revealed
Summary: The Exodus Revealed video, directed by Lad Allen and funded by Discovery (Institute?) Media Productions, is based on The Exodus Case book by Lennart Moller, which is based on the "discoveries" of Ron Wyatt. Both the video and the book include photos of a gold wheel supposedly found in the Gulf of Aqaba, presented as proof that the Bible's Red Sea crossing story is true. But a TV producer's wife "was told by one of Ron Wyatt's sons that the chariot wheels that Ron supposedly discovered in the Gulf of Aqaba were planted there by Ron." Also, John Baumgardner, who is a Christian and initially believed Wyatt and inspected Wyatt's Noah's ark "discovery", later wrote that "I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them [rivets on the Ark]." Despite this and much more evidence that Ron Wyatt was a crazy liar, both Lennart Moller and Lad Allen were insidiously dishonest in promoting Wyatt's "findings" without disclosing Wyatt's history of fraud. [See the link below for more on Wyatt, much more.]
(I know the fellow who wrote the investigative review above, and even met some of relatives who live in Greenville, S.C. The family was home-schooled and taught young-earth creationist arguments. Two or three of the sisters attended Bob Jones University. Today half of the author's siblings have left the fold.)
WYATT ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH: TOO "GOOD" TO BE TRUE? YES!
Letter from Joe Zias on the “discoveries of Ron Wyatt,” including mention of the alleged chariot wheel (Zias is Curator of Anthropology/Archaeology, Israel Antiquities Authority, POB 586, Jerusalem, Tel. 972-2-292624)
Lastly, I exchanged a few emails with Pinkowski who runs the Wyatt museum, and who informed me that, "In the 22 years that Ron Wyatt performed this wonderful work for the Lord, he always maintained a very humble personality. It would have been very easy for him to become proud or boastful, but Ron did not do that. Both Moses and Ron Wyatt were extremely humble men. When asked "why" he was chosen to do this work, Ron replied: 'If 10 different people found 10 different major archaeological finds, people could say, 'Well, they were lucky, or smart, etc.,' but for one person to find all of these things is not humanly possible. Not even the most brilliant and celebrated. But God uses 'The simple things to confound the wise.' In choosing a simple, average person, He leaves no room for doubt as to 'who' is actually doing these things. Perhaps He chose me because I was willing -- I really don't know. But I can say that there is no one on earth who could be more grateful than I to be allowed to work with these things.'"
What faith Pinkowski has in the alleged authenticity of every one of Wyatt’s alleged “discoveries,” none of which have ever been verified by legitimate archeologists. Wyatt always seemed to get a glimpse of something and then it promptly vanishes, like the gilded wheel, or the Phoenician style column found on the Saudi coastline and which contained in Phoenician letters (Archaic Hebrew) the words: Mizraim (Egypt ); Solomon; Edom; death; Pharaoh; Moses; and Yahweh; or “the Blood of Christ” on the “Judgment Seat” beneath the Temple site in Jerusalem which only Wyatt saw. Other evidence/claims of Wyatt likewise vanish after closer examination. Even those who at first supported his claims to have found Noah’s ark no longer believed him after examining the evidence at the site further, including young-earth creationists belonging to major young-earth organizations.
THE ABOVE QUOTATIONS ARRANGED AND EDITED BY EDWARD T. BABINSKI