Kenneth Kitchen

Kenneth Anderson Kitchen (born 1932) is Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool, England. He is one of the leading experts on Biblical History and the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, having written over 250 books and journal articles on these and other subjects since the mid-1950s.

He was invited to the personal professorship due to his practical work in archaeology. He has never received a Ph.D. degree, being quite proud during his career to be "plain Mr Kitchen".

Third Intermediate Period

His book, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC), is regarded by historians as the standard and most comprehensive treatment on this era. It noted a hitherto unknown period of coregency between Psusennes I with Amenemope and Osorkon III with Takelot III, and established that Shebitku of the 25th Dynasty was already king of Egypt by 702 BC, among other revelations.

Some of its points are now slightly dated. It stated that Takelot II succeeded Osorkon II at Tanis, whereas most Egyptologists today accept it was Shoshenq III. Secondly, the book presented King Shoshenq II as the High Priest of Amun Shoshenq C, a son of Osorkon I who predeceased his father. However, this interpretation is weakened by the fact that no objects from Shoshenq II's intact burial at Tanis bears Osorkon I's name. Finally, contra Kitchen, most Egyptologists today such as Rolf Krauss, Aidan Dodson and Jürgen von Beckerath accept David Aston's argument that the Crown Prince Osorkon B, Takelot II's son, assumed power as Osorkon III, a king of the 'Theban Twenty-Third Dynasty' in Upper Egypt.

Ramesside Period

Kenneth Kitchen is also regarded as one of the foremost scholars on the Ramesside Period of the New Kingdom; he published a well-respected book on Ramesses II in 1982 titled Pharaoh Triumphant: The Life and Times of Ramesses II, King of Egypt. Kitchen is a scholar who advocates a high view of the Old Testament and its inherent historicity. See his most recent 2003 book: On the Reliability of the Old Testament which documents several clear or indirect allusions to King David's status as the founder of Ancient Israel based on passages in the Tel Dan ('House of David') and Mesha stelas as well as in Shoshenq I's Karnak list. The book counters the efforts of biblical minimalists who claim that the Bible is unhistorical.

Kitchen has strongly opposed the New Chronology views of David Rohl who posits that the Biblical Shishak who invaded Israel in 925 BC was actually Ramesses II rather than Shoshenq I and argues that the 21st and 22nd Dynasties of Egypt were contemporary with one another due to the absence of Dynasty 21 Apis Bull stele in the Serapeum. Kitchen observes that the word Shishak is closer philologically to Shoshenq I and that this Pharaoh records in his monuments at Thebes that he campaigned actively against Ancient Israel and Judah. Kitchen also notes that there are various contemporary non-Serapeum sources such as the Karnak Priestly Annals, the Nile Quay Texts, and various stelas which mention these Dynasty 21 and Dynasty 22 kings.


Professor Kitchen is an Evangelical Christian with regard to his religious beliefs. He is frequently cited by conservative Christians in relation to writings rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis, which claims that the Pentateuch is a composite work of sources labeled J, E, D, and P rather than by Moses as author. Kenneth Kitchen has raised various objections to the documentary hypothesis For example, Kitchen points to Egyptian tablets giving a biographical account in four different writing styles, yet this text (he claims) is widely accepted as having had one author.

Kitchen himself, however, is not strictly traditionalist in terms of authorship of the Pentateuch, pointing out numerous places where the text demand post-Mosaic editing in the Pentateuch. He also takes a late date of the exodus of Israel from Egypt during the time of Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, whereas most conservative evangelical Bible scholars date this event to the 15th century BC.


A phrase often used by Kitchen is "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" meaning that the lack of higher dated monuments or inscriptions for a certain Pharaoh's reign does not exclude the possibility that this ruler enjoyed a longer reign than is generally assumed. The increasing number of higher dated archaeological finds in Egypt for certain Third Intermediate Period era kings such as a Year 13 stela for Takelot III at Dakhla in February 2005, a Year 7 annal document for Pami, and the discovery of a burial inscription from Vizier Padiamonet's Deir El-Bahari tomb in early 2006--which is dated to Year 27 of the Nubian king Piye--strongly validates Kitchen's contention here.

Significant Works by Kenneth A. Kitchen

  • 2003. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-4960-1
  • 1999. Poetry of Ancient Egypt. Jonsered: P. Aströms förlag.
  • 1996. The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC). 3rd ed. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Limited
  • 1994. Documentation for Ancient Arabia. Part 1: Chronological Framework and Historical Sources. The World of Ancient Arabia 1. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press
  • 1982. Pharaoh Triumphant: The Life and Times of Ramesses II, King of Egypt. Monumenta Hannah Sheen Dedicata 2. Mississauga: Benben Publications.
  • 1977. The Bible In Its World Exeter: Paternoster. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press 1978.
  • 1969–1990. Ramesside Inscriptions: Historical and Biographical. 8 Vols. Oxford: B. H. Blackwell Ltd.
  • 1966. Ancient Orient and Old Testament London: Tyndale Press. Chicago: InterVarsity Press.
  • 1962. Suppiluliuma and the Amarna Pharaohs; a study in relative chronology, Liverpool University Press

BAR and other Articles:

  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, Egyptian Near Kingdom Topographical Lists, in "Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane," University of Memphis, forthcoming
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, Ancient Egyptian Chronology for Aegeanists MAA 2, Dec 2002
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, How We Know When Solomon Ruled, BAR 27:05, Sept/Oct. 2001
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Desert Tabernacle, BAR 16:06, Dec 2000
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History?, BAR 21:02, Mar/Apr. 1995
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, 'Genesis 12-50 In The Near Eastern World' in "He Swore an Oath: Biblical Themes from Genesis 12-50," (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1993), ed: R. Hess, P. Satterthwaite and G. Wenham
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, Where Did Solomon’s Gold Go?, BAR 15:03, May/Jun 1989
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, Shishak’s Military Campaign in Israel Confirmed, BAR 15:03, May/June 1989
  • Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Aramaic of Daniel in Notes on Some Problems in the Book Of Daniel, London: The Tyndale Press, 1965. paperback, pp.31-79.

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