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The Xenophile Historian


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As stated in Chapter 1, the ancients did not count years the way we do, so other methods must be used to date their civilizations and artifacts. With written records, one has to count years according to the reign of a certain king, and have the kings in proper order to create a reliable timeline. Where there is no writing, one can still get an approximate date by comparing pottery, literature and art with what other sites produced. In addition, the layers of a typical archaeological site are a clue; as with geology, the layers closest to the surface are likely to be the youngest, since they were deposited after the layers of rock, earth, etc. that is underneath. Relative dating, by layers and styles of pottery, was perfected early in the twentieth century by Sir Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), and now is used by archaeologists to get a ballpark figure for the age of artifacts. The key to turning a relative date into an absolute one is finding an artifact whose date cannot be questioned, that is associated with a specific art/pottery style. Thus, if an Israeli pot comes from a Middle Bronze Age I (MB I) site, and an Egyptian pot of the same style is found in a tomb which we know from other sources is 4,000 years old, then all MB I sites must date to roughly 2000 B.C., and everything found in layers above MB I is younger than the MB I stuff.

For the ancient Middle East, there are four sources of exact dates: Greek & Roman literature, the Bible, Assyrian records, and Egyptian records. The Greco-Roman sources are universally accepted, but only go back to 600 B.C.; before 600 B.C., some other source must be used. Assyrian records go farther, but not far enough; before 900 B.C. problems crop up, like whether we are listing one king at a time when two kings, and maybe even two Assyrian states, could have existed side by side. A Bible-based chronology can take us at least as far as 2000 B.C., but only fundamentalists trust the Bible that much.(1) Furthermore, the Bible was written to guide us in proper living, not to be a mere history text, so whatever historical data it contains is of secondary importance to the narrative. This means that even Bible-believing scholars are forced to look for another absolute chronology to help them in their studies; a "second opinion," if you wish.

For most archaeologists and historians, the solution is a chronology based on Egyptian artifacts and records, since most of them can be associated with whatever pharaoh was reigning at the time they were made. As a result, from Petrie onwards we have fine-tuned our chronologies of the ancient Middle East by looking for points where they correlate with known Egyptian dates; Hittites, Phoenicians, Babylonians, etc., have had their ages moved up and down whenever their objects were found with Egyptian ones. For example, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the famous King Hammurabi of Babylon was dated as living around 2100 B.C.; now he is usually put near 1750 B.C., since artifacts belonging to him and a thirteenth dynasty pharaoh named Neferhotep I have turned up in the same site on Crete.(2) This gives the impression that either Egypt's chronology is a mighty tree, too strong to be uprooted or shaken, or the Egyptians had excellent press agents. Most scholars accept the former without question, while this author strongly suspects that the latter is more likely.

How the Trouble Started

Strange as it may sound, the basic chronology used for ancient Egypt was developed by historians before the first translation of hieroglyphics. Before 1800 they built one based on what classical writers like Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus had to say about Egypt, listing some important pharaohs and their accomplishments but no trustworthy dates. For example, Herodotus claims to have seen a list of 330 Egyptian monarchs, but only mentions thirteen by name for the period preceding 700 B.C.: Min, Nitocris, Sesostris, Pheros, Proteus, Rhampsinitus, Cheops, Chephren, Mycerinus, Asychis, Anysis, Sabachos, and Sethos. And what he says about those thirteen is unreliable, presumably because they lived more than 200 years before he did. For a start, the three builders of the Giza pyramids (Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus) are in the middle of the list, while every modern historian puts them near the beginning, right after Min (Menes). Sesostris, who Herodotus considered the greatest pharaoh, may either be Thutmose III, Ramses II, or all the Middle Kingdom pharaohs rolled into one; we just don't know for sure. Rhampsinitus sounds like Ramses, Sabachos is a catch-all name for the Ethiopian monarchs, and Sethos is either one of the nineteenth dynasty pharaohs named Seti, or the founder of the twenty-sixth dynasty. Only what Herodotus wrote about the XXVI dynasty (the last native dynasty before the Persian conquest) is now trusted; this has caused some historians to refer to the "father of history" as the "father of lies."(3)

The other source commonly used before Champollion's deciphering of hieroglyphics was the Aegyptiaca, written by Manetho, an Egyptian priest of the third century B.C. In Manetho's day the known world was ruled by Greek kings, like the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in Syria. Manetho's main goal was to prove to the Greeks that the Egyptians were the world's oldest people, and he faced competition; Berosus was trying to do the same thing with his homeland, Mesopotamia, while the chief librarian of the Alexandria library, Eratosthenes, claimed great antiquity for the Greeks. It was Manetho who compiled Egyptian history into the thirty dynasties we are familiar with today.(4) "It is no exaggeration to say that we continue to arrange the history of Egypt and to place the facts of this history in the very same order that is a legacy of Julius Africanus who wrote in the third Christian century."(5) When the names of the pharaohs on the monuments were translated, Egyptologists went to Manetho's list for comparisons; it was not an easy task, since all of Manetho's names, like those of Herodotus, were Greek ones.

The first problem with Manetho's dynasties was that the Egyptians left few clues as to which dynasty followed which; they weren't interested in recording which dynasties ended in a revolution and which simply died out. More serious is that the original text of Manetho is no longer available; what we have are garbled editions quoted by two late Roman writers (Eusebius and Africanus), plus an excerpt from Josephus. The two versions do not agree on names, or on the counting of years. To give just one example, Syncellus, who copied Africanus' list, wrote, "The twenty-fourth dynasty, Bocchoris of Sais, for six years: in his reign a lamb spoke [a short gap in the manuscript] 990 years." Meanwhile Eusebius wrote, "Bocchoris of Sais for 44 years: in his reign a lamb spoke. Total, 44 years." We are left guessing whether the XXIV dynasty lasted for 6 years, 44, or 990.

The names and ages Manetho gave for the kings of the two dynasties we know the most about, the eighteenth and nineteenth, were proven wrong in almost every instance when compared with the evidence left by the pharaohs themselves. This caused James H. Breasted to describe Manetho's history as "a late, careless and uncritical compilation, which can be proven wrong from the contemporary monuments in the vast majority of cases, where such monuments have survived."(6) Furthermore, it looks like Manetho "cooked the books," stretching out the history of Egypt as long as he could get away with, by adding years which did not exist, listing kings who shared the throne (co-regencies) as ruling alone, and dynasties as proceeding one after another, when many may have overlapped, especially during the intermediate periods. Nevertheless, Manetho's history is still considered the foundation of Egyptian chronology. For those dynasties which left us almost nothing, like VII-X and XIV, Manetho is considered the most reliable authority, even though the lack of evidence has caused some to ask if those dynasties really existed. This may be why Sir Alan Gardiner wrote that "what is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters."(7)

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The Sothic Year

To fill in the gaps left by the classical historians and the monuments, Egyptologists looked for another way to establish an absolute chronology. They thought they found it in astronomical references to Spdt or Sothis, the star we call Sirius. Throughout the year Egyptian priests kept track of when Sirius rose, waiting for the time when it would rise just a few minutes before the sun did (about July 19). When that happened a new year was declared, and Egyptians were told to head for the hills, for the annual flooding of the Nile was about to begin.

The Egyptian calendar had exactly 365 days in it, whereas we know a year is 365 and a quarter days long. What would happen if the calendar wasn't corrected with leap year days? After four years it would be a day off, spring would still be listed as beginning on March 21, when it really began on March 22. After forty years the calendar would be ten days off; not a critical problem, but an embarrassment to the astronomers if somebody pointed it out! After a hundred years it would be 25 days off, which would cause farmers to make serious errors at plowing and planting time. If the error was not fixed, over the years New Year's Day would wander around the seasons, the way the Moslem Ramadan does today, until 1460 years (365 times 4) after the discrepancy started, the dates would return to where they should be. The idea was developed that the Egyptians knew of their calendar's inaccuracy, but allowed it to run uncorrected, for religious reasons; the 1460-year period is called a Sothic year.

The weird and wonderful concept of a Sothic year comes to us via a Roman author named Censorinus. In 238 A.D. he wrote that 99 years before (139), a great year began on the Egyptian calendar, which is based on the motions of Sirius, the Dog Star, and that it is 1460 years long. Theon of Alexandria, who lived a century after Censorinus, agreed with him, and declared that the previous Sothic year began with the "Era of Menophres," in 1321 B.C. Armed with that information, the Egyptologists looked for a pharaoh named Menophres. They settled on Ramses I, because one of his other names was Menpehtire. Since Ramses is credited with only a one-year reign, both he and the beginning of the XIX dynasty were pegged at 1321 B.C..

There are several holes in the assumption that Menophres is Ramses I. One is that Theon never said Menophres is the name of a king; he could be a vizier, priest, prophet or scientist. In 1862 a French scholar, J. B. Biot, suggested, with much logical support, that Menophres is not the name of a person but another spelling of Men-Nofre, the Egyptian name for Memphis. Also, neither Manetho nor Egyptian records produce a king named Menophres, but they do give several with similar-sounding names. One possible candidate is Merneptah, a great-grandson of Ramses I. Merneptah was nominated, then rejected, because historians did not want to place the whole reign of the XIX dynasty's main figure, Ramses II, before 1300 B.C. Thus without any clear evidence favoring any king, it appears that somebody picked the pharaoh he liked the best to anchor the absolute date of 1321 B.C. with.

Once the beginning of the Sothic year was established, it should have been easy to compute the dates of kings and key events, but nowhere do we have a document mentioning that something happened in year such-and-such of the Sothic era. To date, only seven supposed Sothic dates have been found, and all of them are subject to dispute.

One of them is the so-called "Ebers calendar," which was acquired by Georg Ebers at Thebes in the 1870s. This papyrus was written in the ninth year of Amenhotep I and reports a "going forth of Spdt" on the ninth day of the third month of Shemu, the Egyptian early summer. In 1950 Richard Parker used this to calculate a date of 1542 B.C. (assuming observations were made from Memphis), which would put the founding of the XVIII dynasty around 1575. A few years later this date was adjusted twenty-five years downward, to 1517 B.C., when scholars decided that the Sothic observations were made from Thebes (Sirius is visible in Thebes before it is visible from Memphis). This placed the founding of the XVIII dynasty--and the New Kingdom--at 1550 B.C.

In the Illahun temple (in Egypt's Faiyum basin) was found a papyrus which declared that in the seventh year of an unnamed king, Spdt rose on the first day of the fourth month of Peret, the Egyptian winter season. Examination of the grammar of the papyrus labeled it a XII dynasty composition; a German named L. Borchardt narrowed the possible pharaohs under which it was written to either Senusret III or Amenemhet III, and decided in favor of Senusret. Assuming that the Illahun papyrus really recorded a Sothic date, it was written 551 years before the beginning of a Sothic cycle. 551 years before 1321 B.C. is 1872, so Senusret III's reign was marked as beginning in 1878 B.C..

By counting forward from the date given in the Illahun papyrus, a date of 1786 was found for the end of the XII dynasty. This meant that dynasties XIII through XVIII lasted 465 years. Is this enough time to account for all the events of the Second Intermediate Period and the first half of the New Kingdom? Some thought not. Enough documentation existed for the XVIII dynasty kings that the lengths of their reigns could not be shortened much; whatever reduction in years that was needed would have to come from the five poorly documented dynasties that preceded it. And some of those dynasties might have lasted a good long time; Manetho credited the XIII dynasty with sixty kings, and the XIV dynasty with seventy-six. Since the founding of the New Kingdom had already been set at 1550 B.C., just over two hundred years were left for the Second Intermediate Period.

Sir Flinders Petrie thought this was not enough time to account for all the cultural changes that took place between the Middle and New Kingdom, so he inserted an additional Sothic year into the Second Intermediate Period. This put the end of the XII dynasty at 3246 B.C., and made the Second Intermediate Period 1696 years long! For a while in the early part of the twentieth century Petrie's chronology was used in textbooks, but he failed to convince everybody. Petrie's solution caused more problems than it solved; 236 years were too few and 1696 were too many. As The Cambridge Ancient History explained, "Were the Sothic date unknown, our evidence would not require more than 400 or at most 500 years between the two [from the end of the Twelfth to the beginning of the Eighteenth] dynasties."(8) Nevertheless, the idea of a Sothic cycle had become so dominant that no one in the school of conventional chronology was willing to part with the Illahun and Menophres dates. "To abandon 1786 B.C. as the year when Dyn. XII ended would have serious consequences for the history, not of Egypt alone, but of the entire Middle East."(9) For want of an absolute date anywhere else the Illahun date serves as one of the anchors of ancient history. Despite the questions, the "Sothic cycle" is used to test the accuracy of all other ancient dates, including those produced by Carbon-14 testing.(10)

As noted above, all of the so-called Sothic dates are in dispute. Some have argued that the Illahun date might apply to another XII dynasty pharaoh besides Senusret III, since it does not tell us who was king when it was made; even if it is referring to 1872 B.C., we could be in trouble. The date from the Ebers papyrus is also questionable; recently it was suggested that the "day 9, month 3 of Shemu" is really is the anniversary of Amenhotep I's coronation, and the "going forth of Spdt" is something else, like a reference to the hour for celebrating the anniversary.(11) The conclusion? There is absolutely no evidence that any Egyptian ever saw the need to have two calendars, so that he could keep track of how inaccurate one of them was.(12) As Winlock noted, "Of the thousands of documents which survived, not one gives dates in the known 'wandering' year and the hypothetical 'fixed' year."(13)

Dr. Lynn Rose has this to say about the academic inertia which causes scholars to hold onto old theories, long after they have been shown inadequate:

"Each new generation of scholars tends to flatter itself regarding its supposed breakthroughs. But the fact is that very little has fundamentally changed during the past one hundred years in the way scholars treat antiquity: the conventional chronology is still adhered to by the vast majority of today's authors; and the archaeological, stratigraphical, monumental, and literary evidence against that conventional chronology is swept under the rug today even more carefully than it was two or three generations ago.
Sometimes, in fact, it is necessary to turn to older sources in order to find candid reports and honest discussions of discoveries whose embarrassing nature had not yet been fully realized."(14)

Before we go on to look at chronologies not based on Manetho or Sothis, the author would like to point out an excerpt from the Ebers papyrus that is so controversial that most scholars have chosen to ignore it. One section of it contains a medical treatise; for what the scribe called "driving out tumors in the head," two salves were recommended: one "as prescribed by the priestly pharmacist Xui," the other "as told us by a Jew from Byblos." Remember that this was written in the time of Amenhotep I, which most scholars place long before the Exodus; often they even put Amenhotep before the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt. If the conventional chronology is correct, and all the Israelites were in Egypt at this time, how did a Jewish doctor get to Lebanon's oldest city? It makes about as much sense to draw a picture of George Washington armed with a bazooka. According to other chronologies, however, Amenhotep I lived after both the Exodus and the Israelite conquest of Canaan, so one would expect to hear of Jews outside Egypt.(15)

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Alternative Chronologies

The first to challenge the new orthodoxy of ancient history was a Norwegian Egyptologist, Jens Leiblein of the University of Christiana. In 1873 he argued that too many years were allotted to Egypt's XXI through XXIII dynasties, and that some genealogical problems could be resolved by having XXI and XXII co-exist in the same time period. He may have been on to something; others came to the same conclusion 110 years later.

Next came an eccentric classical scholar, Cecil Torr, who spent much of the 1890s debating those who followed the conventional chronology, particularly Petrie. Torr and Petrie wrote point and counterpoint for twenty-one rounds in a journal called The Academy, before Petrie gave up, leaving Torr to have the last word on the subject. In the Classical Review Torr dished out an unremitting onslaught against another respected ancient historian, John Myres, who dared to challenge Torr's proposed chronology. In 1896 he published his own ideas about ancient Egypt and Greece in a small book entitled Memphis and Mycenae, in which he argued that the dates Petrie and others had put on Greek artifacts were too high after they were matched with Egyptian ones. To Torr it made more sense to believe that the supposed 600-year-long dark age of Greece never existed, and that there was no gap between Homer's heroes and the classical Greek era. He got a bad review from the Guardian, however, which declared: "Mr. Torr, if we say so, is a heretic in the region of early Greek archaeology." Curiously, that silenced Torr, and he wrote no more on ancient chronology.

The next half century saw the orthodox view of ancient history become firmly established, and few disagreed much with the dates assigned to the pharaohs. Then a new challenge came from an unexpected source, a Freudian psychologist named Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979). In 1939 he moved from Berlin to New Jersey, both to escape the Holocaust and to do some research on three of Freud's personal heroes: Moses, Akhenaten, and Oedipus. The conclusions he reached were so unusual that he spent the rest of his life in the United States. He started by looking for Egyptian references to Moses and/or the Exodus, and noticed something peculiar: though Egypt and Israel are next to one another, the Israelites would often record an event that would not be mentioned in Egypt, but centuries earlier the Egyptians recorded a nearly identical event. This generated a question: Are several hundred years missing from Israel's history, or are there too many years in Egyptian history? Either conclusion was likely to generate a storm of controversy; Velikovsky chose the latter. In 1945 he published a list of 284 arguments entitled Theses For the Reconstruction of Ancient History; subsequent research persuaded him to change only three or four of the theses.

Soon Velikovsky became a true heretic as far as scholars were concerned; "a non-fraternity man, the barbarian on the proper campus," is how a friendly critic (John Wyllie of the Richmond News Leader) described him. At the same time as he was writing his historical reconstruction, he came across ancient literature suggesting that Venus and Mars nearly collided with Earth between 1500 and 687 B.C., and published a book on this, Worlds in Collision, in 1950. This shook the scientific community to its foundations, and scientists responded with a savage attack on Velikovsky and his admirers, the likes of which had not been seen since the days of the Inquisition. Gordon Atwater, the director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, was fired for endorsing Worlds in Collision, and many scientists and schools threatened to blacklist the original publisher of the book, Macmillian; all this happened before the controversial book appeared in bookstores. Fortunately Doubleday stepped in and agreed to publish Velikovsky's works, so that free scholarship would not be so easily suppressed. Two years later the first volume of his historical reconstruction, Ages in Chaos, came forth. By this time the vicious character assassination and attempted censorship by the establishment backfired; both Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos were best-sellers, and the heretic had acquired a cult following.

Velikovsky began Ages In Chaos by portraying what we would have if modern history was mangled the way he felt ancient history was:

"Many wondrous things happen when historical perspective is distorted. In order to understand the scope of the displacements in the history of the ancient world, one must try to conceive of the chaos which would result if a survey of Europe and America were written in which the history of the British Isles were some six hundred years out of line, so that in Europe and America the year would be 1941 while in Britain it would be 1341.
As Columbus discovered America in 1492, the Churchill of 1341 could not have visited this country, but he must have visited some other land--the scholars would be divided in their opinion as to the whereabouts of that land--and met its chief. Another chief, not Franklin Delano Roosevelt of Washington, would live in history as cosigner of a charter with Churchill of Britain in 1341.
But as American records would speak of Churchill who crossed the ocean in the early forties of the twentieth century, British history would also have a Churchill II, six hundred years after the first one. Cromwell would also be doubled by the same process. He would have to live three hundred years before Churchill I and also three hundred years after him, or three hundred years before Churchill II.
The First World War would be fought twice, as would the Second. The First World War, in its second variant, would follow the Second World War, in its first variant, by five and three quarter centuries.
By the same token, the development of the Constitution, the cultural life, the progress of technology and the arts, would appear in chaotic distortion.
Newton in England would become an early forerunner of Copernicus instead of following him. Joan of Arc would revive the traditions of the suffragettes of the post-Victorian days; she would be burned twice with an interval of six hundred years between; or with the growing confusion of history, she would have to return to the stake a few centuries from today to suffer her death again.
In the case presented, not only the history of the British Isles would be doubled and distorted, but also the history of the entire world. Difficulties would, of course, arise, but they would be swept away as oddities. Complicated theories would be proposed and discussed, and if accepted, they would establish themselves as new, strong obstacles to a correct perception of past history.
Ancient history is distorted in this very manner. Because of the disruption of synchronism, many figures on the historical scene are "ghosts" or "halves"or "doubles." Events are often duplicates; many battles are shadows; many treaties are copies; even some empires are phantoms."(16)

Velikovsky began his reconstruction by arguing that the end of the Middle Kingdom, the Exodus, and the Hyksos invasion all occurred at the same time, in the mid-fifteenth century B.C. Then he had the Hyksos era last for 400 years, rather than the 100-200 years most assign to it, and marked the destruction of the Amalekites by Saul as being the same as the expulsion of the Hyksos by Ahmose, the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom. The rest of Ages In Chaos was devoted to finding synchronisms between Egyptian and Hebrew histories: Hatshepsut became the Queen of Sheba; Thutmose III became Shishak, who looted Jerusalem five years after Solomon's death; and the Amarna letters became letters from Ahab, Jehoshaphat and Hazael (a Syrian king). The premise of his second historical work, Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960), was that the characters in the Greek story of Oedipus were really members of the Egyptian royal family in Akhenaten's day.

After that Velikovsky seems to have been mainly concerned with defending his radical scientific views. Some think he was also hard-pressed to justify his historical reconstruction; now that he had claimed Egyptian history was too long, he had to prove which were the ghost years or dynasties. Whatever the reason, nearly two decades went by before he tried to finish what he started. With Peoples of the Sea (1977), and Ramses II and His Time (1978), he argued that the XIX dynasty is the same as the XXVI, the XX dynasty is identical to the XXX, and that the XXI dynasty was a group of powerful priests who ruled from the Persian era to the early part of the Ptolemaic age (ca. 440-275 B.C.). Looking for any similarity in their careers, he equated Seti I with Psammetich I, Ramses II with Necho II, Merneptah with Apries, and Ramses III with Nectanebo I. He was still faced with shortening the Libyan, Ethiopian and Assyrian periods to fit them into a 150-year gap between the XVIII and XIX dynasties, but he died before he could write the books he promised on the subject, leaving many (including this author) to wonder if such a reduction is possible.

Most thought not. In 1978 the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (S.I.S.), a group sympathetic to Velikovsky's views, held a conference in Glasgow; most of the speakers agreed that while Velikovsky had successfully pointed out serious problems with the accepted view on pre-classical history, most of his "revised chronology" was unworkable. At the same time, those who held to the conventional views thought they had won, and tried to put the genie of heretical thought back into the lamp. Since that time, those who question the established chronology have been dismissed as "Velikovskians," or "sons of Velikovsky."

Despite this, a few scholars are still offering alternative chronologies. Velikovsky's followers from time to time have set up their own journals to continue the debate; Kronos and Catastrophism & Ancient History are two of them. John Bimson has called for a Bible-based chronology in several publications, notably S.I.S. Review and Biblical Archaeology Review. His view is that the accepted Egyptian chronology may be correct up to the end of the XII dynasty, but only by coincidence. He then stretches the XIII dynasty out over 300 years, to have it end in the Exodus. In Israel, he feels that the reason so few artifacts have been found to verify the Old Testament is that we are looking for them in the wrong places. According to his scheme, the Middle and Late Bronze Age sites in Israel are dated 150-220 years too early; evidence of the destruction of Jericho by Joshua has gone unnoticed because it was dated to 1550 B.C., not 1400 B.C.; the "Canaanite" artifacts found at many sites look more sophisticated than younger "Israelite" artifacts because they were really produced in the glorious time of David and Solomon.(17)

Bimson may be right, but in no way is this the last word on the matter. A lot of scholars have questions and problems about the Third Intermediate Period of Egyptian history (Egypt's XXI-XXV dynasties, or 1085-664 B.C. on the conventional calendar). This is because it is a poorly documented period; not until 1973 did anyone publish a book that focussed on this time (The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, by Kenneth A. Kitchen). Several other British scholars published a work in 1991 called Centuries of Darkness, which questioned whether there really was a dark age in the ancient world between 1150 and 850 B.C. This prompted yet another Englishman, David Rohl, to do his own research on the problems of the Third Intermediate Period. In his main work so far, Pharaohs and Kings (1995), Rohl starts by tackling this issue, concluding that the Third Intermediate period needs to be shortened by at least 140 years. Then he gets drawn to other issues. In later chapters of the same book he argues, using genealogical data, that the Biblical Shishak is probably Ramses II, and that the Amarna letters were written in the time of Saul and David (this makes Akhenaten a plagiarist of David's psalms!). Finally he visits the excavations of an Austrian colleague, Manfred Bietak, and claims that Bietak has found skeletons of victims from the tenth plague of the Exodus, and even the palace and tomb of Joseph!(18) While the issues he raised are provocative, Rohl has not yet completed the revised chronology he proposed. He promised a doctoral thesis to deal with loose ends, like the correct date for the XX dynasty, so time may tell us if he is more successful than his predecessors.

The reason why the author has gone to all this trouble is to make it clear that the view of ancient history taught in most books and classes is not "carved in stone," and much of it may be invalidated by future discoveries. We must be cautious in reading anything about ancient times for that reason, especially if we know the writer does not subscribe to a Bible-based point of view. Let it be known that alternatives exist, and parts of them make more sense than what National Geographic, Time-Life Books, etc. teach. This appendix will conclude with a table showing how the three Egyptian chronologies discussed here stack with the Israelite chronology portrayed in Chapter 1.

Table showing three Egyptian chronologies, and how they relate to Israel.

Date (B.C.)Egypt (conventional chronology)Egypt (Velikovsky & Bimson)Egypt (Rohl)Israel
1900XII (Middle Kdm.)XII (Middle Kdm.)XIJacob
1500XVII, XVIII (New Kdm.)
1400XVXV, XVIMoses
(New Kdm.)
1000XXIXVIII (New Kdm.)Saul


1. The way ancient history can be mangled by well-meaning historians was demonstrated by Otto F. Reiss in the July 1967 issue of Art and Archaeology Newsletter. In a note entitled "A Forward Look Backward," he imagines what would happen if future archaeologists interpret our stories of World War II the same way our liberal scholars interpret the Bible. Obviously World War II must have been caused by competition between two primitive technologies, since on one side we have an Eisen Hower or "Hewer of Iron," while on the other side was a Messer Schmidt, or "Forger of Daggers." France was involved, but the original name of its hero was forgotten, for he is simply called "de Gaulle," and we all know that Gaul was the ancient name of France. There would be some confusion over "Hitler" and "Himmler," which apparently are two different spellings of the same person's name. The future archaeologist's conclusion? "It adds up to the struggle between true man and death, or between good and evil. A great allegory, to be sure. But historical fact? Certainly not!"

2. Immanuel Velikovsky and David Rohl both felt that Hammurabi fits better in the sixteenth century B.C. They came to this conclusion independently; Velikovsky used a Babylonian inscription from the sixth century B.C., while Rohl used some astronomical observations made about a hundred years after Hammurabi. See Velikovsky's "Hammurabi and the Revised Chronology" (Kronos, Vol. VIII:1, Fall 1982, pg. 78-84), and Chapter 11 of Rohl's Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1995, pg. 243-249).

3. Whether or not he was accurate, Herodotus makes ancient Egypt come alive in a way no modern writer can--because he was there.

4. Manetho's history did not include the Ptolemies of his own time. Historians tack them onto the end of a list of pharaohs as a thirty-first (XXXI) dynasty.

5. Weill, Bases, Méthodes et Résultats de la Chronologie Égyptienne (Paris, 1926), pg. 1.

6. Breasted, A History of Egypt (2nd ed.), pg. 23.

7. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, New York, Oxford University Press, 1961, pg. 53.

8. H. R. Hall, "Egyptian Chronology," Cambridge Ancient History (1st ed.), I, pg. 170.

9. Gardiner, op. cit., pg. 148.

10. As recently as 1960 some books claimed that the Egyptians invented the calendar in 4241 B.C. This came from Borchardt's counting of two Sothic years before 1321 B.C. Nowadays everyone considers this a ridiculously early date.

11. Luft, U., "Remarks of a Philologist on Egyptian Chronology," Äegypten und Levante 3, 1992, pg. 112-113.

12. Dayton, John, "The So-Called Fixed Sothic Date of Sesostris III, 1872 B.C., Kronos, Vol. VI:1, Fall 1980, pgs. 75-77.

13. H. Winlock, The Rise and Fall of the Middle Kingdom in Thebes (New York, 1947).

14. Rose, Lynn, "'Just Plainly Wrong': A Critique of Peter Huber," Kronos, Vol. IV:2, Winter 1978, pg. 34.

15. Mage, Shane H., "Some Notes on Parker's 'Sothic Dating'," Kronos, Vol. VI:1, Fall 1980, pgs. 70.

16. Velikovsky, op. cit., pg. xxi-xxii.

17. Biblical Archaeology Review included in one of Bimson's articles (July/August 1988) a cartoon of an ancient potter at work, and a friend says to him, "Hey, Sam, why are you still making those Late Bronze II B storage jars? Don't you know it's now Iron I?"

18. Bietak is a cautious follower of the conventional chronology, and won't make any sensational claims concerning his excavations in the ancient land of Goshen. The tomb is empty, as one would expect; Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32 tell us that Joseph's mummy was taken by the Israelites for re-burial in the Promised Land.

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