Often I feel that the reason why I'm here is to fill in the gaps other historians leave in their narratives. For example, check out my page on the Persian Empire: most historians just breeze over the 150-year period between Xerxes and Alexander, but I gave it nearly as much space as I did to the more familiar period, when the Persians rose up and challenged the Greeks. You may have also noted that many history books devote only a few pages to a country's ancient history, but when they get to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, whole chapters discuss events that were short-lived by comparison. I think you'll find that my pages present a more balanced timeline; in a few cases I even did the opposite, saying more about a civilization's beginning than about the present.
2. I like some of what you wrote, but why are your pages so opinionated?
If you're asking this one, you must have seen "The Genesis Chronicles," or my papers on the history of the Middle East. The creation-evolution controversy and Mideast politics touch hot buttons of mine, so unfortunately, I can't write about them without putting in what I think somewhere. That is probably why most of the e-mails I get discuss those topics. There. Let the record show I was honest about the matter, more so than the mainstream media's "objective" reporters who claim to have no bias whatsoever.
If the above pages bother you, take a look at the ones I did on East Asian, European, or African history. Those subjects didn't tread so close, so I was able to leave my viewpoint out most of the time. I remember the letter I got in 2000 from a fellow who didn't like "The Genesis Chronicles" at all, but thought I did a remarkably balanced paper on the history of the Soviet Union.
Some time back, I heard that with the invention of the printing press, everyone became a potential reader; then with the invention of the typewriter and the photocopying machine, everyone became a potential publisher. Well, now with personal computers and the Internet, everyone can be a potential broadcaster. We no longer have to own a publishing house or a radio/TV station to let the world know what we think. It won't even cost you much money (just time), if you set up your site on a free host like Tripod or Geocities. Thus, I believe there is still more freedom online than in the real world. For every page expressing an opinion we agree with, there are plenty that we don't agree with. For every Rush Limbaugh fan page, for example, there's a "Flush Rush" page to counterbalance it.
I'm also aware that I subscribe to a minority opinion in today's world; on the bulletin boards that I frequent, there are still more who disagree than agree with me. Somebody has to express the non-humanist viewpoint, and it might as well be me. Therefore I don't plan on toning down my webpages. You probably won't have trouble finding pages that disagree with mine; a keyword like "evolution" in a search engine ought to do it. To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, I don't think my work needs to be balanced by equal time, because I AM equal time!
For those who still think I'm too radical, check out this footnote from my African hisotry series, where I tell about the time when I thought I met the cat goddess of ancient Egypt. Can you picture any other fundamentalist writing a story like that?
3. Can I quote your text or use your pictures?
I meet the most interesting people this way, like the editor of a Zoroastrian magazine who contacted me for that reason in July 2000. If you use my stuff, all I ask is that you give me credit, with a link to
http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/ or a footnote mentioning me. And please let me know with an e-mail, so I can return the favor with a link to your webpages from mine. One of these days I may create a banner ad to go with those links.
In early 2005 I discovered an extreme example of unauthorized use. I received the biggest, fanciest history book I ever saw, as a birthday present from my parents. It was a copy of Archbishop Ussher's The Annals of the World, and it had gold leaf on the edges of the pages, came with a box to keep it in, and weighed about ten pounds. The original edition was written around 1650, so the language of the text was modernized, too.
The book also came with a CD containing maps and timelines. I can no more ignore a CD than a dog can ignore a fire hydrant, so I popped it into my computer--and got a major surprise. One of the maps on the CD was mine! I drew it in 1997, for one of the texts here, Chapter 7 of "A Biblical Interpretation of World History." On their map the colors were exactly the same, and the borders are the same; only the overall dimensions were different. What's more, the describing text was the same, word for word. Here's the original:
At the least, I wanted credit for my work. Over the next few weeks I managed to track down the programmer responsible for that CD. It turned out he lived in Orlando, so when I called him it was a local call. He was awfully apologetic, and quickly agreed to give me credit in the next edition of the CD, while I was more amused than offended by the whole business. My brother told me about similar cases where stuff got lifted from his website, and he's glad they didn't give him credit, because he was quoted out of context!
4. How can I contact you?
If you want to leave a comment, here is my Guestbook:
5. Who was Berosus?
I get asked this by folks who see my Gmail address, or who meet me on in a forum where I logged in under that name. Berosus was a Babylonian historian who lived around 300 B.C. He was a famous author in ancient times, being the first to write a history of his country in Greek, but only a few excerpts of his work have come down to us. The first bulletin board where I regularly took part in the discussions (November 1997) was about Babylonian history, so the name seemed a natural choice for someone like me. That is also why I chose a Babylonian crescent [ ] to use as my logo. The most detailed biography of Berosus I have found to date is an entry in New Advent, a Catholic Encyclopedia.
6. Are you planning to write any history papers on Central Asia?
Yes, but I'd better not put a date or deadline on that. Every time a new page goes up, that's one more page that will require maintenance later on, to keep it up to date. As a result, these days I seem to do more maintenance work than new writing. In the case of Central Asia, for example, I first considered doing a history series on it in 1991, but then I got sidetracked by other demands, the main one being requests to write about the Middle East. Working on the Middle East on and off, it took me eleven years to complete that task. Then in August 2002 I started working on Central Asia again, when I realized the entire site needed a makeover to make it easier to navigate. Other problems crept up while I did that, so the whole makeover job kept me busy for more than a year. Read The Xenophile Historian Newsletter for details.
8. What is your mission statement?
I don't really have one, because I've been told that most people find them boring, especially if posted on the home page. If I had one, it would read something like this: "To build the best world history site on the World Wide Web that is maintained by a private individual." I know, I can't really compete with college history departments and organizations like The History Channel, who can hire people to work full time on their websites. I would also have a hard time keeping up with cooperative-effort projects like AllEmpires.com, and even some extremely prolific writers like Paul Halsall. But I can give them all a good challenge, right?
9. I read a forum message where you called yourself a Neo-Con/Neo-Conservative. What's that?
For the answer, go to this political essay.
10. Where did the Hannibal picture come from?
That's a reference to this one, which appears in Chapter 3 of the European history series.
I got the picture from Lycos.com, the famous search engine, back in 1998. At the time, Lycos was offering 40,000 free pictures to people who used Tripod, their web hosting service. I still have one website over there, at http://raseneb.tripod.com. When I got the picture, it was named 310058.jpg. Unfortunately that Lycos gallery disappeared years ago (they have another one now, with different pictures in it), and I don't know the name of artist who did the original.
To be honest, I'm surprised at how popular this picture is. I guess there aren't too many artist's works showing Hannibal in the Alps, though it's one of the most famous events in ancient history. I had a footnote about it in Chapter 3, which I'm reposting below for your convenience. Quote:
"Today we mainly remember Hannibal for the opening phase of the war, the march through Switzerland with 37 war elephants leading the way. This is odd, because it wasn't his best moment. Elephants are very unsuitable for climbing mountains, far less sure of their footing than burros or goats and too sensitive to cold weather. Moreover, they made little difference in the battles after they reached Italy. Hannibal lost quite a few elephants in the Alps, and the last one succumbed to the mild north Italian climate before the battle of Lake Trasimene. Actually going over the Alps was an avoidable mistake; when he dodged the Roman army heading for Spain he went too far north and got badly lost."
Unquote: In 2002 I heard about a Hannibal movie in the works, starring Vin Diesel. I expect to receive more e-mails about Hannibal and the picture, if that movie ever makes it to the theaters.
11. Are your history papers available in a downloadable format?
They were for a year and a half, as an act of kindness to those with dial-up connections (I was on dial-up myself, long after people expected me to move to broadband.). I had both HTML files for normal online viewing with a browser, and MHT files to download and look at without being connected. Unfortunately I was going through an awful lot of work, to keep both up to date, and then I discovered that while MHT files preserve both text and pictures, the links stop working once the files leave my home computer. Attempts to save the pages in other formats didn't work any better, for various reasons. Converting them to PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files, for instance, made them much larger, defeating the purpose of downloading them in the first place, and required the user to have Adobe Acrobat Reader, a program which itself has gotten awfully large in recent versions. As a result, I said to heck with the whole business, and now only try to keep the webpages up to date. If you really need to have a paper in some form besides what you're looking at on this site, write me an e-mail and I'll see what I can send you. Fair enough?
On the other hand, I plan to continue ignoring requests for more multimedia stuff, like maps and timelines, until nearly everybody who can read this is on broadband. Those would look neat, but they can also slow down the load times of webpages dramatically. Web surfers are an impatient lot these days, and a webmaster shouldn't do anything that will make his visitors leave the website in frustration; if they don't see in a minute what they're looking for, they'll probably go somewhere else. High-tech tricks like Java, cascade-style sheets, Flash and VRML are called the "bleeding edge" for that reason--if they don't work right, the blood left on the floor will be the webmaster's.
12. Did you write the book "When Religion Becomes Evil?"
No, that's another Charles Kimball. It is an interesting book, but he's in North Carolina and I'm in Kentucky, and he's a moderate compared to me. There aren't too many Kimballs, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's a distant relative; it seems that Salt Lake City is the only place where our family name is common.
I found out about the book one morning in September 2002, when I turned on the radio and heard the other Charles Kimball promoting his book on the John Boy & Billy Big Show. This program broadcasts out of Charlotte, NC, and normally on the show you hear a group of rednecks playing classic rock, talking about NASCAR, telling bad jokes, and laughing like hyenas constantly. However, everybody was dead serious for this interview, as they discussed the religious origins of terrorism. At the end I heard that Mr. Kimball was going to appear on Bill O'Reilly's show later that day, so I called and e-mailed my relatives to tell them "That isn't me on 'The O'Reilly Factor' tonight!"
If you want to learn about my book, go to Question #15.
13. I noticed your dates for ancient Egypt are different from the dates I've seen elsewhere. Why is that?
I must admit I was a little reluctant to include dates when I wrote my Egyptian page, Valley of the Pharaohs, because I knew people would ask about them. However, I could not leave them out, especially when I did the companion page listing the pharaohs of Egypt and the kings of Nubia.
Anyway, you're right; before the XXIV dynasty most of the dates I use are 200-300 years closer to the present than the conventional dates seen in most books. I haven't accepted the conventional dates since 1978. The issue is the supposed lack of evidence in Egypt for events reported in the Bible. Egypt and Israel are right next to each other, so you'd think each country would report on events that occurred next door. Instead, what usually happens is that something takes place in Israel, but according to mainstream chronology, there is nothing about it in Egypt. Then centuries later, something like it happened in Egypt, and Israelite records are usually just as silent. This leads to the question: Are centuries missing from Israel's history, or have centuries of ghost years crept into Egyptian history? I'm guessing the latter, taking the view William of Occam would have advocated, that a minimum makes the best maximum. The alternatives are more likely to create "dark ages," long periods of time when supposedly nothing happened.
For a while I followed the radical chronological revisions of Immanuel Velikovsky. More recently I have subscribed to the "New Chronology" of David Rohl, a British archaeologist. However, a lot of the dates on the previously mentioned pages are not his. I got to meet David Rohl at a seminar in January 2004, and when I asked him about the XXI dynasty, he said he hadn't worked out a chronology for that period, so I ended up making a chronology that worked for me.
And before you ask, no, I don't believe Ramses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. That idea was promoted in movies like "the Ten Commandments" and "The Prince of Egypt" (note how all the Egyptian characters in those movies have XIX dynasty names), but a good press doesn't make it true. My own belief is that the Biblical events concerning Egypt happened much earlier: Abraham lived during the X dynasty, Joseph in the XII dynasty, and Moses in the XIII. Since the XII dynasty is the only one of those periods that is well documented, it helps to explain the shortage of Egyptian records concerning the Israelites.
For a more complete explanation of what I believe regarding dates, see the appendix entitled Problems With Egyptian Chronology." You might also want to check out the New Chronology group, where there is an ongoing discussion of David's Rohl's theories; I post messages there occasionally.
14. How can you claim to be a young-earth creationist if you don't accept Archbishop James Ussher's chronology, which has the world begin in 4004 B.C.?
Whoa! I admit I was surprised to receive questions/comments like this. The criticism from evolutionists was expected (see question #2) because there are so many of them. Twice in 1997 I taught a class in creationism, and I began by telling everybody that contrary to what evolutionists may think, I don't believe the earth is flat. Then I would jokingly say that it's because I always preferred the Hindu myth which has the world sitting on the back of a giant turtle!
The problem I have is that Ussher's work hasn't kept up with what the archaeologists are finding. For example, he asserted that the ancient Egyptian civilization only came into existence 1,600 years before Alexander, when most historians give both Egypt and Mesopotamia at least a millennium more than that (I count roughly 2,500 years from the Scorpion King to Alexander, on my "low chronology"). To my knowledge, only Donovan Courville, Gunnar Heinsohn, and the Russian author of RevisedHistory.org seriously consider a chronology of the ancient world that's much shorter than mine, and the figurative "shoehorn" that they use to make ancient history fit into their schemes is brutal, to say the least. Heinsohn, for instance, believes the Sumerians of the third millennium B.C. are the same people as the Chaldeans of the first millennium B.C.
Granted, Egyptian and Mesopotamian authors like Manetho and Berosus padded their chronologies, to make it look like their homelands were more than ten thousand years old. Today's archaeologists and historians thus have to figure out, by using other evidence, what really happened. But while they have been able to eliminate most of the "ghost years" from the king lists of ancient historians, they can't compress pre-classical history into the frame demanded by Ussher's dates and leave it in a form we would recognize. For example, Ussher put Noah's Flood in 2348 B.C., which most history texts (including mine) will say was right in the middle of Egypt's first golden age, the Old Kingdom. Some followers of Ussher go so far as to believe that the Flood came along while the Egyptians were building the Pyramids, and interrupted their work; then after the Flood they came back and picked up right where they left off, leaving no sign that they had even stopped. I find that hard to believe, when I compare the Pyramids with a more recent interrupted structure, the Washington Monument. Construction on the Washington Monument stopped in 1855 because funding for the project ran out, and wasn't resumed until the 1870s; today you can still see a line, about a third of the way up, where the work had ended for twenty years. A case has been made for the Sphinx being older than the Pyramids, because it shows signs of water erosion, so it may have stood in a time when Egypt was wetter than it is now, but no erosion or any other signs of water damage have appeared on the Pyramids so far. I saw the Great Pyramid up close myself, in 1979, and don't recall any limestone encrustations, coral, barnacles or shells to suggest that it had once been underwater. Still, I remember a church in Texas claiming that the Great Pyramid had been built by Enoch, and the fact that it's now empty is proof that Enoch didn't die, but "walked with God!" Big deal, most Egyptian tombs are empty when found, thanks to grave robbers, and I don't hear that claimed as evidence for a resurrection of the occupants.
Finally, in later periods where the available documentation gets better, Ussher has so far been proven wrong, too. We are confident enough of our chronology of the Assyrians that for the years up to 911 B.C., we aren't likely to be more than a year off with any event. For example, Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) left us a picture of the Israelite king Jehu bowing at his feet, one of the oldest representations of a Biblical character anywhere. Unfortunately Ussher's chronology has Saul, David, Solomon and the monarchs of the divided kingdom living more than a century before the Assyrian records which mention the latter by name.
To sum it all up, Ussher gave us an important milestone in the writing of history. Hardly anybody before him (or after him, for that matter) wrote a complete history, with dates, going all the way back to the time of the Creation. For that reason he's worth reading, in the same sense that Marco Polo's travel guide gives us one of the first looks at the Far East through Western eyes. But his work is not a third testament to the Bible, and I don't think he claimed the same inspiration from God that the Prophets and Apostles had. If evidence comes along in the future that proves him right, I'll be listening with an open mind; for example, a few years back I suggested 3467 B.C. as the date for the Tower of Babel, but since then have heard compelling evidence to move the date of that catastrophe up a few centuries, to 3182 or even 3114 B.C. That came from some scholars who are trying to build a chronology of Genesis based on years in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), rather than the more commonly used Massoretic text. In the meantime, though, I'll continue to try writing the best possible creationist view of our origins, one that accounts for all the evidence we have on hand, and not try to force it into a worldview that's obsolete.
And click here to see the Old Testament chronology I'm currently using (opens in a new window).
15. How can I get your book?
You can also find out more about it here.
16. Why do you say "Moslem?" Shouldn't it be "Muslim?"
I am acting old-fashioned when I do that. Also a little politcally incorrect. Moslem was the most common spelling for practitioners of Islam when I went to school, but then for no apparent reason, the preferred spelling changed to Muslim in the late twentieth century. Islam and its followers are so important in today's world that we can't avoid mentioning them for long, especially when discussing African or Asian history, and both Moslem and Muslim mean the same thing in Arabic ("one who submits"), so I don't see it insulting if I continue to write "Moslem." Previously Westerners used the terms "Mohammedan" or "Mahometan," until followers of Islam pointed out that while they honor the teachings of their prophet, they do not worship him; "Moslem" does not carry any incorrect assumptions like the older terms did. Jack Wheeler, the author of To The Point News, noted that because Arabic is written without vowels, the correct way to transliterate Moslem/Muslim from Arabic is "Mslm." I could also point out that the lack of vowels in Arabic causes the Moslem holy book to be spelled either "Koran" or "Quran," but I don't see any movement to drop one of those spellings.
© Copyright 2010 Charles Kimball