Friday

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

This article rejects the standard paradigm of the chronology of ancient his­tory as fun­damentally flawed by humanistic and uniformi­tarian assumptions. Using a timeline derived entirely from the Bible, the author briefly dis­cusses his work on the chronology of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and then reinter­prets the archeologi­cal data of Syria-Palestine from the rise of urban­ization (after the Sodom catastrophe, c. 1967 bc) to the period just following the Exodus (1561 bc) — deal­ing with Early Bronze II/III & IV, Middle Bronze I, and Middle Bronze IIA. The au­thor proposes that these societies were segregated from each other more by culture than by time — that is, they were more coeval than consecutive, running more side-by-side than end-to-end. Robustness is demonstrated by the conso­nance achieved from using this theory to inter­pret the data from a number of sites; several examples are given where archeological data contra­dict the Bible when inter­preted by the stan­dard par­adigm, but are in harmony when interpreted through the new paradigm.

Introduction

Ancient history is, I propose, wrong. The modernist paradigm by which evidence is interpreted was designed in large measure by 19th century human­ists whose prime axiom seems to have been that the Bible is not primary historical documentation, but rather a mishmash of myth and fable. From this bias, historians pro­ceeded to construct a chronologi­cal scheme based less on evidence than upon the philosophy of Evolution­ism. We find the result not only in textbooks, but even in Bible encyclopedias, dictionaries and commentaries.

I maintain that there is no history at all prior to the year 4074 bc, the year of Adam's Fall, and there is no archeological artifact from before 2418 bc, the year of Noah's Flood (these precepts are, to say the least, ex­tremely challenging to scholars familiar with the evidence of ancient histo­ry). Further­more, I place the Tower of Babel event in 2192 bc, the Sodom catastrophe in 1967 bc, and the Exodus in 1561 bc. To accept these dates requires that virtual­ly everything that is believed about the distant past be re­evaluated.

I will be absolutely explicit: this reconstruction of ancient history requires nothing less than a total revolution, which must affect a spectrum of disciplines. All preconcep­tions about the order of the Egyp­tian Dynasties are suspect. All interpretations regard­ing the successiveness of Bronze Age cul­tures are open to debate. All calculations based on astronomical data are question­able. All standard assump­tions about ancient dates are disput­able.

The reason that I am so bold — so apparently arrogant or reckless — is that I have come to believe that the Bible is not vague or ambiguous in mat­ters of chronology, but rather contains a clear and recov­erable outline of dates (cf. Table I). Virtual­ly all the dates which I propose are derived from the Bible, without any reference to the humanis­tic dating scheme advanced by previous scholars.

I have dismissed radiometric dating methods as utterly unre­liable for the early post-Flood era. There are "serious prob­lems" with carbon 14 dates of early periods. When calibrated to dendrochrono­logical dates, C‑14 “dates in the fourth and third millennia b.c.e. appear to be too early when compared to dates ascer­tained through Egyptian chronology.” (A. Mazar, p. 28 — see my bibliographical note; cf. Weinstein, 1984b). The data from both C‑14 and dendrochronology are polluted by uniformitarian as­sump­tions (JH, 1996a and 1995, ch. 9) such as of a constant rate of atomic decay, a constant amount of atmospheric C‑14, or of geologic and astronomic uniformity (see Aardsma, 1991); indeed, uniformitarianism is simply inimi­cal to biblical catastrophism.

Again, dates extrapolated from the rare astronomical observations pre­served in Egyptian documents are dismissed as invalid (JH, 1997a, ch. 5). Although the theory is not inelegant, the necessary assumption is rejected, that the heavens have never changed their course (that is, that the orbit and rota­tion of Earth have never been catastrophically altered). I maintain — along with Velikovsky (1950) and Patten, Hatch & Steinhauer (1973) — that in the past some significant gravitational mass periodically approached Earth and occasionally interfered with the length of the day and the year. Consequent­ly, any astronomi­cal "anchor" or "pillar" of an­cient history is here consid­ered to be effectively arbitrary, and even the work of such a courageous schol­ar as Read (1995) is, sadly, rendered invalid.

Rather than accept the philosophical musings and uniformitarian dogmas of hu­manists, I have started with the chronological clues embedded within the words of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. This starting point, I maintain, requires that the conjec­tures of the conventional system be utterly reject­ed. For this reason I must seem, to some, arrogant and reckless. There is never room for dogmatism in a discus­sion of this sort, but there is also no room for compromise between the antithetical assumptions of hu­manism and of biblical sufficiency. If the Bible does contain the framework of a clear chronology, then the standard presumptions must be rejected, and a revolution must ensue.

This paper depends only on well-known, mainstream archeological evidence. I will not deflate the standard paradigm with any unmatched erudition. There is no obscure "aha!" fact, heretofore overlooked, which will clinch my case and blast the opposition head-over-heels. I depend entirely upon the elegance of the biblical paradigm, over that of the standard scheme. It is the ease, the elegance, the parsimony with which the evidence fits my time frame, to which I point as my greatest recommendation. The archeologi­cal evidence, I maintain, is ambiguous enough to have allowed the standard scheme to stand; but the data are less equivocal when seen from the biblical perspective. Given that an inductive approach is ambigu­ous, I have adopted deduction, re­ferring first to the underly­ing assumptions, and then to the objective evi­dence. But always, I trust, and using public information, I support my case with facts.

From the Bible we may derive not just the correct outline of ancient his­tory, but the very dates of seminal events. To demonstrate this I have in­cluded the relevant excerpt of my suggested Biblical Chronol­ogy (Table I), derived in its essentials entirely from the Bible. Once we have these dates it becomes clear that one or the other is wrong — the Bible, or Evolution­ism. (My reasons for rejecting such compromises as theistic evol­utionism or a local Flood of Noah are found in JH, 1995 and 1996a.) As for those readers who do not share my regard for the Bible as a historical source, I suggest that this lack of respect derives from a lack of due dili­gence.

Table I

Some years ago I set about correlating the empirical evidence of science and schol­arship with the rigorous demands of a young-Earth interpretation of the Bible. I have written several books as a result of my investigation. In Idols of the Cave: the Arguments of Evolution (1995), I document the mis­repre­senta­tions of the so-called objective evidence of the evolutionists. In The Pillars of Heaven: Creation, Fall and Flood According to Sci­ence and the Bible (1996a), I present the case for an abrupt creation by God, a literal six days for the refining of our planet, an actual Garden of Eden, and Fall, and Flood; I also examine such physical phenomena as continental movement, mountain building, and the geologic column. In Dragons in the Earth: Ark and Ice Age According to Science and the Bible (1996b), I continue the story, con­sidering Noah and the details of the Ark, the diffusion and differentia­tion ("specia­tion") of his menagerie, and finally the Ice Age. In The Serpent in Babel: Fire-worship, Astrology and the Mystery Religion from Eden to Babylon, I address aspects of legend and myth as applied to paganism and the most ancient of the biblical texts.

But there remains the final area of history to be addressed. I have started with three assumptions: [1] that there are no chronologically signif­i­cant gaps in the biblical genealogies, [2] that Abraham was born in 2066 bc, sixty years after his brothers, and [3] that the rule of Solomon ended in 931 bc. From this starting point, I have dated the Flood of Noah to the year 2418 bc. But if this is the case, how then do we read that the Sumerians and the earliest Egyptians built their civilizations at the end of the 4th millen­nium bc? What are we to make of the claims of a 10,000-year-old Jericho? — or of the Stone Age in general? How can any artifact at all, let alone whole cities, have survived a Flood which scrubbed the world down to bedrock? Obvi­ously, either there was no such world Flood — or at least no historical Flood — or else the standard inter­pretation of the archeo­logical data is grotesquely incorrect.

In my books, Most Ancient Days (1997a) and The Days of Brass and Iron (1997b), I have undertaken the reconstruction of ancient history using a young-Earth, catastrophic world-Flood, biblical paradigm. I have recon­struct­ed virtually all of ancient history, from the apparent earliest human settle­ments, through the first civilizations of the Near East, until the days of the Persians and Greeks, by which time history has caught up with itself and there are no more egregious chronological errors.

In this brief article I cannot go into the relevant details and interac­tions of the Levant with Mesopo­tamia and Egypt. Instead, as representa­tive of the whole, I present here a discussion of one narrow but important topic — dealing with the reconstructed history of Palestine in the era from Abraham to Moses. This article, modified from a chapter in Most Ancient Days, will consider the dating convention of Palestine's "Early and Middle Bronze Age" (abbre­viated "EB" and "MB", and "Late Bronze" as "LB"). We will not debate the evidence of archeology, but we will vigorously debate the interpretation and arrangement of that evidence. My reconstruction specifically of the Bronze Age is explicitly laid out in Table II. For the benefit of any reader who anticipates the broader impli­cations of this article, I have included Table III (Comprehensive Correla­tion of Timelines), which is an out­line of the compre­hensive reconstruc­tion, includ­ing Palestine, Europe, Mesopo­tamia and Egypt; the details which demon­strate the validity of this table are given in Most Ancient Days and The Days of Brass and Iron.

Table II

Palestine:

Early Bronze / Middle Bronze Timeline













2100-2081


EB I


Canaanites



Amorites


80-61












60-41












40-21












20-01












2000-1991


EB IIA










90-81












80-71








MB I




70-61












60-51












50-41












40-31












30-21












20-11












10-01












1900-1891




EB IIIA








90-81












80-71












70-61












60-51












50-41












40-31












30-21












20-11












10-01












1800-1791












90-81












80-71





?





MB IIA


70-61












60-51












50-41












40-31












30-21





?







20-11












10-01












1700-1691












90-81












80-71





?







70-61












60-51












50-41





EB IIIB







40-31












30-21












20-11












10-01












1600-1591












90-81












80-71












70-61

EXODUS












60-51












50-41












40-31












30-21












20-11












10-01


Invasion and conquest of Joshua and the Israelites


1500-1491












Table III

The vocabulary of the historiography for the ancient world varies from region to region. Thus, the eras of Mesopotamia are called after places (e.g., Uruk, Akkad or Old Babylon), the eras of Egypt are called after govern­ments (Dynasties and "Kingdoms"), and the eras of Palestine and Syria are called after technologi­cal characteristics (cf, the triptych of "Stone Age," "Bronze Age" and "Iron Age" — composed by Danish archeologist C.J. Thomsen, and used since 1819 ad). For each of these three regions — Mesopota­mia, Egypt and Palestine — history has been artificially inflated to extend back well over a millennium beyond what I hold to be its proper starting point. For ease of reference, and to allow the reader to gain per­spective and make com­parisons, I prefix an asterisk "*" to all standard but incorrect dates and terms; when an asterisk appears in a quota­tion, it is my addition. All chro­nological references which have no asterisk are my cor­rected dates; further­more, note that where scholars generally use the word "period", the preferred word is often "culture".

To establish the context, note that in Mesopotamia the pre-literate period of history is presumed to have ended around *3100 bc, while I maintain it ended around 2000 bc. There is no question but that the suc­cessive periods of the Sumerians, Akkadians, and Old Babylonians are in the correct order — and for the most part the duration of each era is also correct. However, where the standard paradigm has the civilization of these ancient Mesopotamians lasting about 1,500 years (c. *3100 to c. *1600 bc), I give this epoch slight­ly over a thousand years (c. 1900 to c. 800's bc). The standard model hides its distortion by exaggerat­ing the duration of the periods known as "Jemdet Nasr" and "Early Dynastic I & II" (abbreviated "ED") — and at the more recent end, the distortion is hidden in the so-called "Kassite Dark Age" (cf. JH, 1997b).

In Egypt, the labeling system involves dynasties, I through XXX, which are assumed to have run consecutively, while I propose many of them ran side-by-side, holding power over different nomes ("prov­inces"). The dynas­ties are for the most part numbered not for their successiveness in time, but rather for their domi­nance in a given region. My solution does not seem as pleasing in terms of simplicity, but this is because it is not I who invented the nomen­clature. I am forced to use an essentially inappropriate vocabu­lary, which is biased toward the invalid system.

Finally, the Early and Middle Bronze Ages of Palestine and Syria are also consid­ered to have been successive, while the new paradigm presented here has them as differ­ent but contemporary societies — not segregated by time but by culture (cf. Table II). An analogy would be of colonial America, where Euro­pean and native societies existed side-by-side, separated by language and custom, with only peripheral mixing and interac­tion; this state of affairs lasted in one form or another for some three centuries.

Suppose some befuddled archeologist of the distant future concluded that a vast span of time sepa­rated the indigenous population of North America from the European peoples who settled the continent. Suppose he convinced his colleagues that those ancient natives lived and be­came extinct long before the Europeans arrived, and had no contact with them. He would imagine that the differences in culture and technology were due to this supposed interval. Were such a misguided scholar to separate what we know were contemporary societies, he would be interpreting the American scene through the same paradigm which present-day archeologists actually use to interpret the archeology of the ancient middle east.

In the land of Canaan: different languages, religions, morés — dif­ferent preferences and technologies in architecture, ceramics and metal­lur­gy — all combined to define and separate the cultures which we know as Early and Middle Bronze. Modern scholars have mistakenly distributed the evidence across time, instead of across topogra­phy. We will look at this key point in more detail, shortly.

Archeology deals with artifacts — with things man-made. History deals with writing. In Palestine there is virtually no writing until the Late Bronze Age (contemporaneous with the New Kingdom in Egypt) which I discuss in The Days of Brass and Iron (JH, 1997b). (There are a few EB/MB cuneiform scraps, which are devoid of any historical content, and so not relevant here.) In the tombs and ruined cities of the Early and Middle Bronze Age, we have only artifacts, and no hint of literature, to guide us. Thus, we have no history, only an interpre­tation of archeological data.

Now, archeological correlations give us relative dating — that is, they tell us which civilizations were contemporaneous with each other. But what of "absolute" dating, which fits these cultures into our numer­ical dating sys­tem? Is it not a fact that carbon 14 dating excludes any significant error? Well, I have dealt with the problems of radio­metric "dating" elsewhere (JH, 1995 & 1997a). But with regard specifically to EB artifacts, it is highly interesting that C-14 “tests relating to EB I come from only four sites; some of the tests point to a high date in the first half of the fourth millennium.” (Mazar, p. 147, note 28.) So, first we find that there are scarcely any data at all, and next we see that they are disharmo­nious. Likewise, C‑14

dates from EB II-III contexts are known only from Jericho, Bab edh‑Dhra` and Numeira. They appear to be problematic, as calibra­tion based on dendro­chronology provides a wide range of dates in the third millennium b.c.e., many of which appear to be too high when compared to those based on Egyptian correlations. (Mazar, p. 147, note 31.)

Again, only three sites provide data, and these too are disharmonious. We may conclude, then, that "absolute" dating is not as secure, not as ground­ed in objective and unambig­uous evidence, as we may wish to be­lieve.

If not on writing or C-14 data, then on what basis is Canaanite chronol­ogy decided?

From ca. *3000 b.c.e. the absolute chronology of Palestine is based to a large extent on that of Egypt. . . . The dependence on Egyptian chronol­ogy is so strong that any change in the latter necessitates a parallel shift concerning Palestine. The Egyptian finds may, howev­er, be mis­leading, as scarabs, statues, and other Egyptian artifacts were consid­ered precious or sacred objects and may have been kept as heir­looms for generations. (Mazar, pp. 28‑29.)

The study of specifically Egyptian chronology is outside our scope; I discuss it in great depth in Most Ancient Days — most specifically in chapter five (but consider Table III for my general conclusions). Aside from Egyptian data, “Imported pottery and other arti­facts from Cyprus and Greece also play a sig­nificant role in chronological studies, but sometimes one forgets that abso­lute dates in these countries are based to a large extent on those in Egypt and the Levant, making the danger of circular argumentation great.” (Mazar, p. 29.)

Table IV

Early Bronze:

EB I (*3100-2900)

EB II (*2900-2700)

EB III (*2700-2250)

EB IV (*2300-2000)

Middle Bronze:

MB I (*2000‑1800)

MB IIA (*1800-1750)

MB IIB (*1750-1550)

MB IIC (*1575-1500)

Table IV

Be that as it may, unfortunate circumstances — of effective illiteracy in the Levant, and of the sur­prising unreliability of C-14 data — have allowed the monstrous misunder­standing to arise, of the stan­dard chronological scheme, presented in Table IV. Al­though I will use the same labels, I will not fol­low these dates, with their presumption of successive cultures. In­stead, I will use the outline in Table V, which of course is not as elegant as the standard version, but as with the Egyptian dynasties, this is because it is not I who defined the nomenclature. I am using a vocabulary which has a built‑in bias against substantive innovation, but what I am proposing is revo­lutionary enough, with­out introducing an entirely new jargon.

Table V

Table V­ — Bronze Ages in Palestine

Correct ages

Standard designations

c. 21st cent. bc

Nimrod to Amraphel

Early Bronze I

*3100-2900

c. 2000-1650

Amraphel to Bondage

EB II

*2900-2700

c. 1820-1500

Sesostris III thru Joshua

EB III

*2700-2250

20th-14th cent. bc

Abraham thru Deborah

Middle Bronze I

*2000-1800 (*2000 = Sodom)

18th-16th cent. bc

Joseph to Conquest

MB IIA

*1800-1750

16th-14th cent. bc

Exodus to Deborah

EB IV

*2300-2000

1500's-1050

Judges

MB IIB

*1750-1550

1300's-1020

Deborah to Saul

MB IIC

*1575-1500

Late Bronze Age . . .


This treatment is limited to the period from Abraham to Moses, dealing only with EB II/III & IV, and MB I & IIA. I ignore the Copper Age and EB I, which have more to do with Nimrod than Abraham; I also ignore MB IIB and LB, which by my reconstruc­tion have to do with the time of the Judges and the Kings of Israel. This article is divided into the preceding Introduction, and three other parts, dealing with the Early Bronze, the Middle Bronze, and the re-evaluated archeology of vari­ous cities. The overall discus­sion of archeology is not meant to be exhaustive — I will just give some of the more im­portant evidence, and interpret it through our new paradigm. Each reader must judge for himself as to which is more convinc­ing, the standard model or the biblical.

3 Comments:

At 2/23/2006, Blogger ass2006 said...

Hi, a nice blog you have here. You will surely get an bookmark :) xaNax

 
At 3/27/2006, Blogger Jack H said...

It seems one of the querks of the problem I'm having with this blog is that comments do not display on the main page. And I'm getting porn-bots. What do you think? Should I take it all down and report? Lots of work.

J

 
At 9/27/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, leave it up. I've enjoyed reading all your chronology stuff. By the way, where can I get your books?

mtman007@comcast.net

 

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