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Book 6. Dating

Dating Ancient Near Eastern History

(Part III)


  If an excavator believes from the scriptures that an ancient mound must contain buildings from Solomon’s reign, it is almost certain that sooner or later he will find structures that fit the bill. The spurious air of biblical authority given to such a discovery can then make the identification stick, despite any evidence to the contrary. In the meantime a small tourist industry may even have grown up around this “confirmation” of the Bible.

Peter James


Revising the Chronology


The debates on biblical chronology among biblical archaeologists of the last two decades of the twentieth century have been vigorous but mainly on the best adjustment to the dating of Albright in the twenties and thirties. William G Dever of Arizona university seems satisfied with this, while others would say that Albright made a pig’s ear out of biblical archaeology.


For the Bronze Age, we are now debating issues regarding a century or so, usually much less, and dependent as always on the synchronisms with astronomically fixed Egyptian chronology.
William G Dever



The chronology of the Iron Age remains fixed within rather narrow margins by Egyptian and Mesopotamian synchronisms, together with biblical data.
William G Dever


For Dever, there is no room here for doubt, yet we have seen there is a great deal of room for doubting Egyptian chronology in this time and room enough for doubting Assyrian dates before the eighth century. As for speaking about astronomically fixed Egyptian chronology, presumably meaning the Sothic system, it is utterly discredited.

Dever claims that the raid of the mysterious Pharaoh Shishak biblically dated to about 925 BC is confirmed by destruction layers at two dozen sites that can be precisely dated. Since Dever seems not to know what “precise” as opposed to “relative” means, he must mean that destruction layers are found at a particular common stratum that might correspond to the biblical mention of Shishak, if you believe the bible. We are back to the sort of dubious correlationism that Albright used often to date the non-existent conquest by Joshua. It is about the right time, it is a destruction as we expect, so it must be the event that we expect. He also denies that there is any doubt about the excavations of Jericho, even writing, “What excavation?” He, lastly, denies that any archaelogists use calculations of dates based on biblical chronology “at all”.

The chronology of Israel worked out from its own internal relativities and keyed into Babylonian and Assyrian anchor points suggests a shortening of dates by at least two centuries. The Iron Age then coincides with the setting up of the statelets of Palestine in the ninth century, not with any invasion of the Israelites from the south. All the evidence is that people came into Palestine from the north or east not from the south.

The nineteenth and twentieth dynasties in the Egyptian scheme correspond with the end of the Bronze Age. If these are put forward by two or three hundred years, then voids in the historical data disappear. Nubian specialists see continuity from the twentieth dynasty to the twenty fifth Nubian dynasty even though in the conventional scheme there are four dynasties between them. It seems to be this two century gap that is wrong. These dynasties are in the so-called Third Intermediate Period—the very name implies doubt and indecision—stretching from 1070 to 664 BC in orthodox terms. It is a 400 year period full of kings that no one knows anything about and whose reigns are often given arbitrary values.

Ken (Dodd) Kitchen, the humorist who knows all there is to know about king David, is one of the modern scholars to perpetuate this travesty, devised to keep a neat space for his heroes David and Solomon. To magnify Solomon and to justify his impossible success, the scholars build an artificial void in Egyptian history literally full of ruling nonentities.

Third Intermediate Period

After the twentieth dynasty, Egypt must have had problems. Libyans began flooding into the country, not as conquerors but apparently as refugees fleeing famine in north Africa. The organisation of the social order weakened and priests and feudal lords set themselves up as local rivals to the pharaoh. By 666 BC, the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal could say that Egypt was ruled by 20 kings. The Greeks made it 12. Even Eusebius, who preserved part of Manetho’s king list, admitted that the kings in this period were not all consecutive but that some ruled locally. Psamtik I (640-610 BC) united the country once more. Who are these kings in the present reconstructions?

Merely to give this brief account suggests that the dynasties listed by the Egyptologists as consecutive were not, or did not even exist in such difficult times. The high priests of Amun are listed separately, evidently as rulers in Thebes, but not constituting a dynasty. The twenty third dynasty is accepted as overlapping the twenty second. It seems also that the twenty second and twenty third dynasties overlapped the start of the twenty fifth, and the twenty fifth and twenty sixth dynasties also overlapped. Kitchen allows small degrees of overlap but keeps the scheme essentially intact even though the twenty third dynasty is nothing but a depository of otherwise undateable kings. Between Yuput I and Yuput II is a half century of “kings”.

The 400 years of the Third Intermediate Period has chunks of time when nothing seems to happen at all, no monuments, architecture, art or statuary—social breakdown is always the excuse, but nothing happening never happens. There is little to show a Libyan influence. Indeed the artistic styles are continuous with the Ramesides. The twenty first dynasty is placed as consecutive with the twenty second but scarcely anything is known about the earlier dynasty compared with the later one. Nothing outside Egypt testifies to the twenty first dynasty. Were they really just a single dynasty that had divided responsibility between two branches?

Jonathan Wade, who defends the orthodox chronology with the vigour of a witchfinder general at his site called Waste of Time, gives the following table listing the Southern Viziers of Egypt from the 21st to the 25th dynasties. His point seems to be that the list is complete and consecutive allowing no space for a concurrent dynasty with the 21st without creating concurrent southern viziers.

Date Vizier  
c 1075 Herihor  
c 1070 Pinudjem I  
c 1040 Amenhirpamesha  
c 960 Neseramun A  
c 930 Padimut A  
c 925 Ia-o  
c 880 Rudpamut  
c 876 Hor[y] Year 14 Takeloth I
c 845 Hori son of Iutjek  
c 835 Nesipakashuty A  
c 825 Harsiese D, son of Nesipakashuty A  
c 820 Hor xviii  
c 815 Pentyefankh, son of Hor xviii Year 8 Pedubast I
c 790 Harsiese E Yr 39 Shoshenq III
c 780 Djed-Khons-ef-ankh E  
c 775 Naktefmut C Year 11 of ?? Married daughter Takeloth II
c 770 Hor x, son of Naktefmut C Contemporary of Osorkon III
c 765 Pamiu  
c 760 Pakharu, son of Pamiu Married daughter of Takeloth III
c 755 Ankh-Osorkon  
c 750 Pediamontet, son of Pamiu  
c 745 Harsiese F  
c 740 Nesmin A, Son of above  
c 730 Ankh-hor Contemporary of Piankhi
c 725 Nesipaqashuty B Married daughter of Takeloth III
c 720 Pediese, son of Harsiese F  
c 715 Khamhor A, son of Harsiese F Grandfather of Montemhat 4 PA
c 700 Pahrer, son of Khamhor A  
c 690 Nesmin B, son Khamhor A  
c 680 Nesipaqashuty C  
c 670 Nespamedu A, son of Nesipaqashuty C  
c 660 Nesipaqashuty D, son of Nespamedu A Yr 14 Psamtek
c 650 Iry  

Certain features of this table will strike the interested observer.

  1. There are only three southern viziers (mean term of office, ~35 years) in the 130 year extent of the 21st dynasty, when there were seven pharaohs (mean reign, ~19 years).
  2. There are 24 southern viziers (mean term of office, ~10 years) in the 230 year period of the 22nd dynasty, when there were ten pharaohs (mean reign, ~23 years).
  3. There are 16 southern viziers (mean term of office, ~7 years) in the 110 year period of the 25th Nubian dynasty, when there were six pharaohs (mean reign, ~18 years).


The mean period that each Pharaoh reigns is roughly the same but the viziers became much less permanent as time went on. While it is plain that such variations are statistically possible, they are the sort of thing that should make a scientist suspicious, because they might indicate that the lists were not truly consecutive, just as the revisionists think.

With some accepted overlap, the Pharaohs reigned 18 years on average while the viziers held office typically for 12 years, but Amenhirpamesha was in office for 80 years! Is this true? The figures suggest there is something wrong with the lists.

Puzzles of Egyptian Chronology

A twenty second dynasty mummy found intruding into a cache of mummies sealed in the twenty first dynasty suggests an overlap of dynasties. The tombs of twenty first dynasty Psusennes II and twenty second dynasty Osorkon II are built next to each other and so close that a wall of the tomb of Osorkon had to be chiselled away to make room for the tomb of Psusennes. Yet Psusennes was supposed to have lived 100 years before! The excuse is that Osorkon used an empty tomb built before Psusennes built his, but Psusennes could have used the empty tomb if it already stood in the way of the tomb that he eventually built. Further investigation shows intimate family links between the two lists supporting the idea that they ruled in parallel.

The strongest evidence, ignored by those desperate to hang on to conventional chronology, is provided by the absence of burials of the Apis Bull in the twenty first and twenty second dynasties. The average age of the bulls was 18 years and there should therefore have been about 12 in the two dynasties. None, or possibly only one, are known. If no bulls were buried but worship of the Apis Bull continued, as it must have, then these two dynasties must have overlapped with another.

Two objects clearly of the reign of Soshenq I, founder of the twenty second dynasty, have been found in Palestine. As objects difficult for biblicists always are, they were unstratified. One of these had been inscribed by a Phoenician king for whom it was evidently a gift from the king of Egypt. It seems to have been a custom because another gift, a bust of Soshenq’s son, Osorkon I, was also found inscribed by another Phoenician king. These two important finds not only link two Egyptian kings with two contemporary Phoenician kings, but allow the Canaanite script to be compared with scripts elsewhere like that on the stele of Mesha of Moab.

Moreover, the Phoenican kings can be identified as part of a series ending in a king dateable from Assyrian tribute tablets as 740 BC. The two previous kings were the ones contemporaneous with Soshenq I and Osorkon I. These two kings can therefore be firmly dated at about 800 BC not 150 years earlier. The proto-Canaanite script is also dated to the same time not the eleventh century as the biblicists want. It therefore matches the Greek alphabet of the eighth century.

A jar found in Assur belonging to the wife of Sennacherib (701-681 BC) is of a similar style to a bowl found in a tomb in Tanis and attributed to Psusennes, 300 years before. The Saite Oracle Papyrus, dated to 651 BC in the reign of Psamtik is remarkably similar to the Rameside style of 400 years before. Instances of supposed eleventh or tenth century objects turning up with eighth century ones are not rare, but they are usually judged in favour of the high date to leave space for the Israelites. It is time they were properly dated to the eighth century and the Egyptian chronology corrected to match. Then the early “history” of the Israelites can be seen as myths.

Peter James has the twentieth dynasty starting in 950 BC not 1185 BC and ending about the time of Soshenq I in 810 BC instead of 1070 BC. The twenty first dynasty was part of the twenty second and operated in parallel. The effect is that at least 260 spurious years (1070 to 810 BC) can be taken out of the Egyptian chronology, and this brings into alignment many confusing datings in various parts of the Near East, and even further afield. Through misdating, some kings have appeared twice, like Osorkon IV, who is really Osorkon III, and further adjustments on these lines could bring down the dates even more.

In the century of the twenty first dynasty, P John Crowe explains:

  1. the country was divided,
  2. no king was sole ruler of Egypt,
  3. temple priests acted as local governors, ruled their local areas and maintained the temples,
  4. an anonymous “Great King of the North” is mentioned on monuments,
  5. a mysterious “renaissance era” of double dating starts to appear, and
  6. no national armies, foreign campaigns or attempts at reunification are mentioned.


The obvious interpretation is that Egypt was a vassal of the Great King of the north.

Did Rameses III rule during the Persian period? Immanuel Velikovsky thought Rameses III, who was never in the twentieth dynasty of Manetho, was the pseudonym of the fourth century pharaoh, Nectanebo, a full 800 year adjustment. Velikovsky is derided as a crank but derision does not answer questions. Consider his arguments.

F L Griffiths and E Naville, both reputable archaeologists, excavating in the 1880s at Tell-el-Yahudiyeh, near Cairo, found faience tiles from the palace of Rameses III some of which seemed to have Greek letters on the back of them, taken to be potters’ marks. Conventionally Rameses died in about 1150 BC, 400 years before Homer. In the necropolis they found tombs, some undisturbed, with painted coffins and rough hieroglyphs typical of the Greek and Roman times. In the intact graves of two children they found scarabs of Rameses III and his father Setnakht. Griffiths said the scarabs were twelfth century, while Naville said the tombs had to be fourth century and the scarabs were heirlooms. Neither thought it possible that the mysterious Rameses was himself fourth century.

The pylon of Rameses III at Medinet Habu—a pristine temple for its putative age—is in a remarkably similar style to Ptolemaic pylons at Edfu and Kom Ombo, 800 years later—but looks newer! Egyptologists tell us that the Nectanebos, who fought off Persians, first without, then later with Greek support, described by Diodorus of Sicily, the Greek historian, was Nekhthorheb, but this king’s monuments make no such claims. He was an unusually modest Pharaoh, unless the reliefs of Rameses III at Medinet Habu which show battle scenes of Egyptians and “Prst” defeating Libyans, and of Egyptians and apparently Greek allies fighting off the “Prst.” Finally the Egyptians defeat both Greeks and Persians in alliance.

Persians are “Prstt” in the trilingual Ptolemaic Canopus decree. Other Egyptian texts identify Persia as “Prs”. Persian soldiers with headgear like “Prst” at Medinet Habu appear on the monuments at Persepolis. The Persians also uniquely provided for camp followers and wagons of women and children are shown on the battle murals. Conventionally these are the families of the migrant “Sea Peoples.” later the Philistines. The improbability of wagon loads of women, children, grannies and family belongings being carried a thousand miles round the coast from Ionia over mountains in Souther Turkey and through the countries of hostile people while the chaps sail their ships offshore is never observed upon.

Breasted tells us that Rameses III said of his enemy, “the Pereset are hung up… in their towns.…” What can this damaged inscription mean? The Persians used to hang people—it was crucifixion. If however the expression just means trapped or delayed in their towns, then what were “their towns?” These are supposed to have been unsettled people, but they had evidently settled somewhere north of Egypt already. Egyptologists say the “Prst” were not Persians but Philistines, and they are convinced of this from… the bible! Yet the bible mentions none of this.

In 1979, at Tell el Daba in the Eastern Delta, M Bitak reported Rameses III remains immediately below the Ptolemaic strata, and in 1980, the linen wrapping of a mummy firmly dated to the reign of Setnakht, the Pharaoh who preceded Rameses III was C-14 dated to 345 BC +/- 75 years, according to a Canadian journal. E A Wallis Budge says Nekhtaneb was a Horus name of Rameses III. The plausible explanation is that Nebo was a Babylonian God acceptable to the Persians and his name was given to Nectanebos (Nebo Conquers) as their puppet, but he gained military prowess with Persian help fighting off Libyans then turned on the Persians themselves first with the mercenary Greeks as allies then fighting both Greeks and Persians. Rameses had become a title of honour just as Caesar and Ptolemy did. Nectanebo apparently took the title for himself to describe his military successes.

It is not for us to uphold Velikovsky, far fetched as he seems, against the scholarship of the Egyptologists, but they show no inclination to be bothered about all these puzzles, unlikely coincidences and anachronisms. They ought to be. These questions should be properly addressed and not ignored. Discussion.

A Chronological Revolution?

Chris Bennett, in a staunch defence of conventional TIP chronology complains of the “swingeing rhetorical attacks on the hidebound Egyptological establishment who are held to be incapable of seeing the obvious wisdom of the new theories because of their purblind and musty academic vision.” The British Museum, confirming this false mockery, banned a revisionist book from the BM Bookstore. Yet, though Bennett’s review of Egyptian evidence favours conventional chronology, he admits:


It is possible that the standard chronology is wrong, even though no fatal logical contradictions have as yet been found… Synchronisms on which the current chronology rests are few in number and are not without difficulties of interpretation. The dated Sothic sighting which was once held to fix New Kingdom chronology is now widely discounted as not being a Sothic sighting at all. The lunar observations which date the reigns of Ramses II and Thutmosis III admit multiple solutions, repeated in a 25-year cycle. Assur-uballit of Assyria does have a different father in the Amarna letters (Assur-nadin-ahhe II) from that given to Assur-uballit I in the kinglists (Eriba-Adad I). The Palestinian campaign of Shoshenq I does not match well with the Judean campaign of Shishak described in the Book of Kings.
Chris Bennett PhD, FAS, FSO


And these concessions are supported by further admissions that around half a century has recently been trimmed from older chronologies. This though is “fine tuning!”.

Revision of Egyptian chronology puts under particular attack Kenneth Kitchen’s The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, “which is widely regarded as one of the major intellectual achievements of modern Egyptology.” The new chronology of the Third Intermediate Period raised problems of identification. Kitchen in his genealogies assigned some important royal figures, like Shoshenk I in the Neseramun genealogy, Osorkon, and High Priests of Amun, entirely on the conventional chronology. Such assignments have to be re-thought to see whether they can fit the new paradigm.

Doubtless Kitchen has devoted a great deal of sweat to his endeavour, but, to judge by his intemperate language, his motivation has been to defend the conventional chronology and not to examine the evidence with any sort of critical eye or even objectivity. Kitchen’s irate response to the proposals for revision and his foolish attempts at irony in attacking his detracters make him sound like a religious nut-case who thinks he is defending God, not Egyptian dates. Kitchen, in the Times Literary Supplement, condemned the authors of Centuries of Darkness as “sons of Velikovsky,” intended as a shocking insult to any scientist, and wished them to “the same oblivion.” Who can believe such a man, despite his scholarship, if that is what it is? Graeme Barker of Leicester University, more honestly says:

Most regional specialists acknowledge that their local chronology is pretty shaky but assume that Egyptian chronology must be cast in stone, and it is salutary to find that things are not quite what they seem there either.


G W van Oosterhout in Bibliotheca Orientalis also admits “everyone with some knowledge of chronology knows that there are difficulties, but the accumulation of problems is truly disquieting… Evidently something is wrong with Egyptian chronology.” Even James Mellaart, who has been critical, is happy to admit that attention must be paid to the deficiencies of dating, and better dating methods found. Lord Colin Renfrew also is willing to recognize the “shaky nature” of our present dating, and thinks a chronological revolution could be coming—one is inclined to think, not while so many religious bigots are in powerful places, though even some of them are ready to accept that the accepted chronology is shaky.

James K Hoffmeier, Professor of Archaeology & Old Testament at Wheaton College, Illinois, writes in BAR that the authors (of Centuries of Darkness) “have drawn attention to serious problems that cannot be ignored… The issues underscored should prompt the reassessment of all areas of Near Eastern chronology.” W H C Frend, Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Glasgow University, says in the Church Times, “much may be said for bringing the end of the Mycenaean and Hittite eras some two centuries later than the traditional dating of 1150 BC.” Hyam Maccoby, Lecturer in Jewish History, Leo Baeck College, recognizes the problem of the chronological thumb suckers when he writes in Midstream that “it is inevitable that this book will arouse strong opposition from those wedded to the conventional chronology.” and he sounds approving when he adds that there is “an excellent case for scrapping the old chronology and substituting a new one”.

Aidan Dodson, himself an Egyptologist, writing in Palestine Exploration Quarterly speaks most sensibly when he says that scholars must “reconsider their chronologies from first principles, since it is only from this basis that any sound chronology can ever be maintained”.

Computer Matching Ancient Astronomical Records

Wayne Mitchell, seeking to establish an absolute chronology for the ancient Near East, reviewed the records of ancient astronomers, particularly the extensive Kassite collection called Enuma Anu Enlil for Agade, Guti/Uruk V, and Ur III, preserved in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC). To minimize any doubt, his analysis was based upon “observations for which there are very few date-assignment possibilities within a large span of time”.

P M Muller and F R Stephenson had classified ancient solar eclipse records according to their reliability. Only four were classed as truly reliable:

  1. 7 July 709 BC—total eclipse at Chu-Fu
  2. 26 September 322 BC—timed eclipse at Babylon
  3. 4 March 181 BC—total eclipse at Ch’ang-An
  4. 15 April 136 BC—total eclipse at Babylon.


Of these the last one is the most reliable of all, and two descriptions of it are known that agree with each other. This reliable date allowed the factor that applied to the deceleration of the earth’s rotation in the first millennium BC to be found. The rate of deceleration of the earth’s rotation varies but the extrapolation from the second century back two millennium is considerably less than the extrapolation of the present conditions back for four millennia.

Using computer programs taking account of the deceleration of the Earth’s rate of rotation, such as that used by P J Huber, and other modern analysts and statisticians, Mitchell found sensible matches later than any previously proposed. Strikingly, and with some certainty (a “rather probable solution”), the accession of king Ammi-saduga of the 1st Dynasty of Babylon was revised down from J A Brinkman’s 1646 BC to 1419 BC. It gives the least number of severe inaccuracies, calculating back, of three—or only one, depending on the precise adjustment of the deceleration factor—and it matched those solutions yielding the “remarkable” coincidence of a lunar and solar eclipse in the succeeding reign of Samsu-ditana.

This finding confirmed that of Huber and co-workers, covering the period 1978 BC to 1363 BC, who also found that the accession of Ammi-saduga at 1419 BC gave the best fit with the data. Beginning from the accession date for Ammi-saduga, the period to the end of the Ur III Dynasty is 360 +/- 15 years, making 19 April 1793 BC the best candidate for the eclipse marking the end of the reign of Ibbi-suen (Ibbisin, conventionally 2028-2004 BC). Another known eclipse marks the end of the reign of Shulgi (conventionally 2094-2047 BC), now dated to 31 July 1835 BC. From the accession of Ur-Nammu (conventionally 2112-2094 BC) now 1901 BC, the Du’uzu eclipse, associated with the victory of Utu-hegal, must have been 28 June 1908 BC.

The period from the fall of Agade to the start of Ur III is given precisely by Brinkman as 42 years, but really lies between 15 and 100 years. If the king-list of Gutium is accurate and the Gutian king, Sarlagab (1988-1983 BC) is the contemporary of Shar-kali-sharri of Agade (conventionally 2217-2193 BC), the lowest feasible chronology corresponds to the partial eclipse on the 25 April 2035 BC, which would mark the end of Rimush (conventionally 2278-2270 BC). The successive eclipses on the 27 March 1959 BC and the 16 March 1958 BC would then be the accurately dated end of Shar-kali-sharri.

Mitchell concludes that a satisfactory match for the accounts requires the accessions of Ammi-saduga and Ur-Nammu, respectively, to be 1419 BC and 1901 BC. From these, by historical interpolation, the accession of Hammurabi (conventionally 1792-1750 BC) is 1565 BC. If Hammurabi and Neferhotep I are contemporaries then the chronology of the Egyptian dynasties before Babylon I are clarified. Neferhotep (conventionally 1751-1740 BC) acceded to the throne between 1550 and 1515 BC.

Finally, five possibilities exist for for an eclipse at sunset mentioned in Ugaritic tablets, and the only candidate from 1450 BC to 1000 BC that can correspond is that of the 9 May 1012 BC. Cross-dating from historical records confirms a date of 1362 BC for the end of Babylon I (conventionally 1595 BC). If 1012 BC reasonably dates Nikmed II, then Akhenaten is dated similarly, and the date of the Hittite king, Murshili (conventionally ?-1590 BC), is 984 BC, matching the solar eclipse of 30 April of that year. Perhaps the Murshilis of Hatti have been confused or have not been properly distinguished, like the Shoshenqs of Egypt, and the Jeroboams of Israel.

Frank Yurco

Biblicist, Frank Yurco, calls those he disagrees with “minimalists,” “nihilists” and even “charlatans!” Yurco thinks everything in the biblical, historical and archaeological gardens is lovely. He still thinks that the Sothic system of dating is valid, that mice erupt spontaneously from dirty linen and that demons are responsible for disease. The Mesha Stone, the Merneptah Stela and the Shoshenq I campaign relief all confirm everything the bible tells us.
The best extant evidence for the existence of Israel, and David and Solomon’s kingdom comes from their foes in antiquity.
Merenptah first mentions Israel in his Canaanite campaign of about 1207 BC. Israel existed.
Pharaoh Sheshonq of Dynasty 22 campaigned against Judea and Israel and this is cited in the Bible—Shishak (Sheshonq) came up against Rehoboam, son of Solomon, in his fifth regnal year. Sheshonq took enough plunder from his campaign that he could afford to reopen the sandstone quarries and to add a whole court onto the Karnak complex of temples. Rehoboam had inherited a wealthy kingdom. Rehoboam is Solomon’s son, so how can Solomon be a late invention?
André Lemairé published in BAR (May/June 1994) a Moabite inscription that mentions the House of David.


Yurco concludes that Israel existed in the late 13th century BC, by Dynasty 22 Judea and Israel had emerged as powerful and wealthy states that appealed to Sheshonq I for plunder, and the Moabites, Israel’s staunch foes, acknowledged the House of David existed. “Why do the minimalists persist in their single-minded myopia?”


Yurco thinks the Merneptah Stele proves that Israel “already existed back in the late 13th century BC.” Yurco illustrates that biblicists cannot get the bible out of their heads. It is like a supporter of Hunslet Football club finding an ancient reference to Hunslet and concluding that the football team existed in antiquity. The place where the football team was founded existed but not the team. Merneptah’s inscription shows Israel was a name that Merneptah knew. The questions are what was the entity called Israel, and when did Merneptah live—in the 13th century BC or as late as the 9th century BC? In the first case, the Israelites were just moving into Canaan, or so the bible says. In the second case, Israel was a statelet in Canaan confirmed by Assyrian archives, though they called it the House of Omri, not Israel!

Yurco studied the Ashkelon Wall at Karnak where there were scenes of 19th Dynasty Egyptians battling supposed Israelites using chariots—when they should have been slaves fleeing from Egypt pursued by the Egyptian chariots, according to Exodus. If the Canaanites of prosperous cities like Megiddo were considered as Israelites, then the possibility that the carvings depict thirteenth century Israelites is possible, but then they were not escaping slaves from Egypt! The Israel of Omri in the ninth century might have included these cities in the north either as subjects or as allies, and had chariots, but then the pictures are 400 years later than Yurco thinks. Biblicists can never see the contradictions of their rationalizations.

Yurco also thinks that Pharaoh Shoshenq I of the 22nd Dynasty is the biblical pharaoh, Shishak, plunderer of Solomon’s temple in the 5th year of Rehoboam, king of Judah. Yet, the Assyrians vocalized the name Shoshenq as Su-si-in-ku, which gives no basis for the nasal sound being omitted in Semitic language vocalizations of the Egyptian. More important, contrary to Yurco’s statement, the places Shoshenq attacked noted on the walls of the temple of Karnak did not include Judah, nor is Jerusalem featured in his list of cities, even though the bible makes it the focus of his attack and claims it bought him off with a vast treasure. Should not Shoshenq have mentioned this particularly lucrative vassalage, espacially as it was previously a large empire that he had subdued? Shishak is the ally of Jeroboam of Israel and the enemy of the kingdom of Judah, according to the bible, while Shoshenq, in his monuments, plunders the country known at that time, according to the bible, as Israel, while ignoring Judah as if it did not exist. Biblicists like Yurco cannot see these important distinctions and fool the ordinary Christian with their lies.

Yurco ignores science and logic to imply that Shoshenq was able to carve monuments from the plunder he took from the wealthy kingdom of Judah, his biblical belief. Millennia of Pharaohs that carved monuments never needed any such source previously, yet monuments were carved. Professor Finkelstein has shifted the archaeological material previously associated with Solomon down into the 9th century, one of the most impoverished archaeological periods in Levantine history. Solomon now rules in Iron Age IB when there is no monumental architecture. It is pure fantasy to imagine that Judah could ever have been wealthy before it became the centre for collecting the taxes of Abarnahara for the Persian kings.

There are no identifiable remains of Western Asiatics at Pi-Ramesse (biblical Raamses) which have come to light, even after a quarter of a century of excavations. There was no destruction of a fortified city of Jericho because it was a ruin at the end of the Bronze Age. Nor is a destruction of Hazor attributable to the time of Joshua’s conquest.

Excavations of the Late Bronze Age palace at Hazor is producing a date for the burning of that building around the time of Seti I, some 100 years before the proposed date for any Israelite destruction of the city. No destructions of Canaanite cities can be unequivocally attributed to the Israelites. There was a cultural continuity between the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. Domestic pottery was continuous between the two periods, with no particular sudden Egyptionizing as would be expected from an influx of people that had lived in Egypt for 400 years. Admittedly population increased and technological advances were made, but all this is better explained by increasing prosperity caused by climatic improvement.

Fundamentalists like Yurco are at a total loss to understand that the bible stories of David and Solomon are mythical wnd therefore simply wrong when read as history. They persist in accepting biblical “history” and think therefore that the elimination of spurious years still allows Solomon and David to remain. If Rameses II was Shishak, as some revisionists suggest, then the apologists protest Seti I was invading Judah when Solomon was a great emperor. One apologist writes, utterly confused:

What are we to make of these Egyptian operations against rulers in the heart of Israel during the 25th year of Solomon. Why doesn’t the Bible record this and why doesn’t Seti mention Solomon?


Why doesn’t he answer his own questions? Seti I erected a stele in Bethshan lauding his campaign in the Jordan valley, sending one army to Hamath another to Bethshan and a third to Yanoam. These seem like individual city states being disciplined, and not a mighty empire able to fend him off. If Omri was the founder of Israel around 900 BC, all that could have existed before were city states. There never was an Emperor Solomon.

This same apologetic source notes that the principle states to the north and east of the Palestinian hills in David’s days were Hamath and Zobah, the same as they were when Sargon the Assyrian king conquered the area in 720 BC, whereas a shortened chronology would make the principle northern states at the time of David Qadesh, Qatna and Tunip, as they were at the time of the El Amarna correspondence. “You don’t need to be a genius to see that the New Chronology is flawed,” he smugly writes. That the David stories were made up after the later period, drawing upon the situation as the author knew it, quite evades the apologist. He cannot grasp that these stories in the bible are fictional.

This same debunker dates the Egyptian kings from the Assyrian eponyms even though he admits they are flawed before 911 BC. They are only ten years out back to 1450 BC, he tells us. He cannot grasp that the earlier lists of kings and eponyms were written by the later Assyrian administrators to give prestige and continuity to the country and the line of kings, when there is reason to think that for several hundred years Assyria was a divided country with parallel dynasties. Certain that the king lists as well as the bible are God sent, these apologists defend them like terriers.

In the 3000 year long history of Ancient Egypt, 300 years is a minor adjustment. It is only major in the briefer history of Israel—and that is what the biblicists do not like. Even if it were accepted, it would not deter them from their fancies. They would be certain then that the Israelites were the Hyksos and old ideas would be revived once again to save God’s reputation as an historian. Rohl reveals himself to be one of these, a latter day Albrightian, declaring from a close study of his bible that the few Egyptian remains found in Jerusalem are the palace of a Bronze Age Solomon’s Egyptian wife. He admits quite openly referring to biblicist F Yurco, a critic of new chronologies:

It is ironic that Yurco should describe people like me as “minimalists” when, in fact, what the New Chronology advocates is a maximalist view of biblical history.

He now declares that the plaque nailed to the cross of Jesus has been found. And Rohl calls Kitchen a Christian fundamentalist! Why can’t they all find a god that does not need fools and liars to defend him, so that honest people can try to find out what happened in history?



Continue: Physical Evidence



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