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It is not often that Egyptology features in US presidential campaigns, but such was the case back in November when Republican candidate Ben Carson asserted that the pyramids of Egypt were built not for burials but as grain stores. He had held this view for some time, apparently ascertaining it from the biblical narrative that tells how Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, rose to be the pharaoh's right-hand man and built grain stores in the seven years of plenty to prepare for the seven lean years to follow (Genesis 41). Whether or not there is some historical truth behind that story, a leap of faith of an entirely different order is required to believe that the pyramids were the grain stores in question. Carson's theory has been widely—and quite properly—dismissed, and one could well ask, does it matter? But surely it must. Ignorance of the past among politicians, and the public at large, is not encouraging, and if they take so little notice of evidence from archaeology, will they do any better elsewhere?
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