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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Staff of Moses 'found' in Birmingham
Graham Phillips's book The Moses Legacy
Was Moses was an Egyptian official called Tuthmosis?
An ancient staff in a British museum may be connected to the Biblical figure of Moses, a new book claims.

Coventry writer Graham Phillips believes the staff, on display at Birmingham Museum, belonged to the historical Egyptian official Tuthmosis, whose life had strong parallels with the Moses of the Bible.

"I am certain that this is the actual staff that the Bible asserts Moses used to perform the miracles of the Exodus," he told BBC News Online.

But his claims are disputed by the curator of Birmingham Museum, Phil Watson.

Graham Phillips
Graham Phillips believes it is the staff of Moses

The Bible says that Moses was raised by the daughter of the pharaoh, led the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea using his staff.

Mr Phillips argues that the historical Moses was based on two figures in different time periods, 100 years apart.

The first, dating from about 1460 BC, was an Egyptian court official called Tuthmosis, who like the biblical Moses, was brought up by the daughter of the king of Egypt.

Like Moses, Tuthmosis was expelled from the pharaoh's court and was sympathetic to the plight of the slave workers.

'Ordinary people'

Mr Phillips said the staff has the name of Tuthmosis on it and describes him as a court official.

His research has revealed that the staff was found in a tomb in southern Jordan in the 1800s before being bought by a British collector and later acquired by Birmingham Museum.

An Egyptian inscriptian on the staff
An Egyptian inscription to Tuthmosis

Mr Watson, principal curator of human history at Birmingham Museum, said he had not yet had a chance to study Mr Phillips's book The Moses Legacy, but said some of the claims linking the staff to Moses were "tenuous".

"Tuthmosis was a very, very common name in Egypt. The staff was acquired by the museum in 1952 and its history before that is somewhat problematic."

Mr Watson said it was more likely the staff had originally come from a tomb in Egypt rather than in Jordan.

"I will look at the book and I am sure it will be interesting," he said.

"But I have spent a lot of my time telling people ancient Egypt is about ordinary people and not about treasure or some really important people."

Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online
See also:

13 Sep 00 | Europe
Bible 'clue' found
23 Dec 99 | Middle East
Israel digs into the past
21 Dec 99 | Middle East
Journey through the Holy Land
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