THESE FAMISHED DESERT NOMADS from the pyramid complex of King Unas (late 24th century B.C.E.), in Saqqara, are sometimes interpreted as evidence for widespread famine that foreshadowed the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. The disastrous and prolonged effects of such ancient famines are also reflected in the biblical story of Joseph, with seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. When the lean harvests crippled the whole region, Joseph’s brothers came from Canaan to plead with Joseph for supplies and were eventually allowed to settle in Egypt, together with their father, Jacob.