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Author Topic:   The Failure of Rohl's New Chronology
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Message 1 of 7 (705667)
08-30-2013 10:30 AM

David Rohl has been discussed here before. But since it is being brought up again I think it best to have a new topic to address it.
I wish to start with this: How to Fail a Test of Time
The author, using the 'nym Steelclaws identifies himself as an:
Assyriologist with minor in Theology (OT Exegetics)
His major point in the essay is that the Amarna Letters - a cache of diplomatic letters found in the remains of the short-lived Egyptian capital city - provide a wealth of links to other peoples. THese links allow the Amarna period to be dated through the Assyrian chronologies, and provide an independent check on the Egyptian chronology.
The dates that come from the Assyrian chronology put the Amarna Period in the 14th Century BC, in agreement with the standard chronology.
This is a major blow to Rohl's chronology which chops 350 years out of Egyptian history, moving the Amarna Period to the 11th-10th Century BC.
It also makes Rohl's idiosyncratic interpretation of the Amarna Letters dealing with Canaan untenable, since the letters were written centuries before Saul and David lived.
Indeed it is hard to see what Rohl could do, without also chopping the same 350 years out of the Assyrian Chronology. Which would require a great deal more work.

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by PaulK, posted 09-10-2013 2:28 AM PaulK has not replied

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From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Message 2 of 7 (705669)
08-30-2013 12:05 PM

Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Failure of Rohl's New Chronology thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

Junior Member (Idle past 3880 days)
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Joined: 12-08-2011

Message 3 of 7 (706358)
09-09-2013 9:17 PM

{Photoshop Dick Clark exotic dancer(?) photo deleted - Adminnemooseus}
Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Content deleted, see above.

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Message 4 of 7 (706361)
09-10-2013 2:28 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
08-30-2013 10:30 AM

Another area of failure is the state of the land of Canaan.
Rohl would have it that the events that appear in the Amarna letters correspond to the reign of Saul, making rather questionable identifications of people named in the Amarna letters with Biblical characters.
As Steelclaws points out, at the time of the Letters, Canaan was still at least nominally subject to Egypt. Labayu - who Rohl identifies with Saul - acknowledges this overlordship and claims that his father and grandfather before him were loyal subjects of Egypt (suggesting to me a hereditary monarch). There is an Egyptian commissioner, Addaya, with a guard of soldiers in the region and the local rulers pay taxes and tribute to Egypt.
You would think that the Israelites would have been rather sensitive to Egyptian rule, given the Exodus story, but the Bible has no mention of this at all.
The main conflicts at the time are between the Canaanite rulers - Labayu is pegged as a particular troublemaker - and the 'Apiru. The 'Apiru are a socio-economic group, probably best considered as bandits and mercenaries in this context. There's no mention of the Philistines, although the Bible reports conflicts with the Philistines even in the Judges period, and Saul was killed in battle with them (Labayu is killed by the people of Gina, thought to be modern Jenin). Egyptian records don't mention the Philistines until the reign of Ramesses 1
Going with a more conventional chronology certainly solves the problem of the Philistines. The Merneptah stele - the first mention of Israel - identifies Israel as a nomadic people and is thought to correspond to the Judges period - this is flat out impossible in Rohl's chronology. The conventional chronology fits better with both the stele and the Biblical references to the Philistines.

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Posts: 213
From: Santa
Joined: 06-05-2009

Message 5 of 7 (707903)
10-01-2013 11:49 PM

c14 dating
I was intrigued to see the new c14 dating of the Pharaohs.
One site (D News) stated,
Led by Professor Christopher Ramsey of Britain's Oxford University, an international team tested seeds, baskets, textiles, plant stems and fruit obtained from museums in the United States and Europe for the landmark study.landmark
"For the first time, radiocarbon dating has become precise enough to constrain the history of ancient Egypt to very specific dates," said Ramsey. "I think scholars and scientists will be glad to hear that our small team of researchers has independently corroborated a century of scholarship in just three years."
Dates for Egypt's Old, Middle and New Kingdoms had been based on historical documents or archaeological findings, but estimates were notoriously uncertain as each dynasty would reset the clock.
The new data showed the reign of Djoser, the best known pharaoh in the Old Kingdom, was between 2691 and 2625 B.C., some 50 to 100 years earlier than the established wisdom.
The study, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, also concluded that the New Kingdom started slightly earlier than thought, between 1570 and 1544 B.C.
I looked at the dates for the New Kingdom Pharaohs and they were pretty consistently 7 years older that the low chronology, and a few years less than the high. It also agrees quite well with the heliacal rising of Sothis date of Amenhotep I, if it was made in Thebes. This totally destroys Rohl's position.
One intriguing idea is that the absolute dates using c14 differ from the archaeological dates, but sometimes by 7 years and sometimes by 30 or more. If the archaeological date of 1446 for the exodus, using Solomon's reign was off from the absolute date, an absolute date would not have to be 1446 BC. A 1415 date puts the invasion of Canaan close to the time of the Amarna letters. The King of Jerusalem could be detailing the same event.
This date would make the dream stele of Thutmose IV fit the death of the firstborn.
Notice that the use of "Hebrew" in the Bible is mostly when people are conversing with Pharaoh. If Pharaoh lumps them together with other 'Apiru,' this would make sense. The rest of the uses of Hebrew in the pentateuch deal with slaves. Could these be non-Israeli 'Apiru'?
This type of Chronology fits, while Rohl's keeps getting worse.

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Coyote, posted 10-02-2013 12:20 AM greentwiga has replied

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Posts: 6117
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Message 6 of 7 (707905)
10-02-2013 12:20 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by greentwiga
10-01-2013 11:49 PM

Re: c14 dating
I'd be careful of how close you place those radiocarbon dates.
Radiocarbon dates are not generally expressed as single figures (intercepts) but rather as ranges. Those ranges can either be 1 sigma (67% chance of being within that range) or 2 sigma (95% chance of being within that range). 2 sigma is the standard for reporting.
So, a date might be expressed as cal 2 sigma 1890-1630 BC (3840-3580 BP). The intercepts for this particular date are 1750 BC and 3700 BP, but those are not necessarily accurate. The range is the figure that is statistically accurate. And that's a pretty tight date, with a 30 range.
But, given a large number of dates on closely related materials that begins to change, and you can get much tighter dating if things work out right. It sounds like that is what may have been done in this case.
By the way, in my work as an archaeologist (not in the Old World though) I have received 632 radiocarbon dates, have six out being processed now, and have one more going out tomorrow.

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Member (Idle past 3455 days)
Posts: 213
From: Santa
Joined: 06-05-2009

Message 7 of 7 (707924)
10-02-2013 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Coyote
10-02-2013 12:20 AM

Re: c14 dating
That is what impressed me about this work. They only used yearly material, such as seeds and grassy material. They used the newer c14 dating methods and the wiggle graphs. Finally, they stated that their 95% confidence ranges were =/- 12 years. I am not sure if they used a Bayesian method. Though I am a Fundamentalist Christian and only have a BS in Chem, I did work at an isotope lab for a few years. Look at the article in;
Science 18 June 2010:
Vol. 328 no. 5985 pp. 1554-1557
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189395

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