A Conversation for Ask h2g2

How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 1

Giford

Nog and I have been having a debate over on the Dawkins thread about whether Immanuel Velikovsky has a plausible argument that Egyptian history is much shorter than generally believed, and matches up neatly with the Biblical account.

Since we seem to be boring folks on that thread, I'd like to branch out into a new (and possibly short-lived) thread.

At the moment, the argument is centering on whether Tanis and Sais are two separate cities, or the same place. The significance is that the 26th Dynasty ruled from Sais, whereas the 21st Dynasty ruled from Tanis. Velikovsky claims that these were the same Dynasty, and thus that the two cities are one. Conventional archaeology disagrees.

***

Hi Nog,

I can't see the link you gave, but I assume the quote from Manetho you mean is this one:
>In the Saite [Sethroite] nome [Tutimaeus] found a city very favorably situated on the east of the Bubastite branch of the Nile, and called Auaris (= Avaris ) after an ancient religious tradition. This place he rebuilt and fortified with massive walls, planting there a garrison of as many as 240,000 heavy-armed men to guard his [eastern] frontier
- Josephus, quoting Manetho

Again, I would have to conceed that that does seem clear, that that Saite nome is in the east near Avaris - I can't reconcile that with the standard idea that Sais is in the west.

On Strabo:

>as one proceeds towards the Sebennytic mouth, one comes to

Clearly we disagree about what this says - to me, it seems clear that this means you come to the lakes and Sais *before* you reach the Sebennytic mouth. (I've spent quite a bit of time trying to definitively identify the location of the places and lake Strabo mentions to confirm this, but can't pin any of them down with certainty.)

>I don't think I've *proved* the location of Sais, but I think I've shown that the identification of it as Sa is at least less certain than you might think

I'm not sure you have. We have the ruins at Sa el Hagar which you cannot account for otherwise; they are clearly associated with the Pharaohs who ruled from Sais, and they are (roughly) where some of the (contradictory) ancient sources say Sais was. It sounds pretty convincing to me. And against that, you have some other ancient sources. I would have to say that the weight of evidence is fairly heavily in favour of Sa el Hagar as far as I can see, and the more I look, the more I find.

For instance, the nome system continued into Roman times, and the Saite nome was well recorded (though Sais itself was long abandoned). Here's Flinders Petrie on why we know the Saite nome is where it is:
http://www.coinsofromanegypt.org/html/library/petrie/petrie_nomes.htm

Note that Pliny, Ptolemy and Strabo all list the nomes, and all list Sais as separate from Tanis. Pliny locates Tanis as 'near Bubastis' and Sais as 'in the region of Alexandria' - not a lot to go on, but enough to know that the two were distinct and that Sais was *not* in the east near Tanis.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137%3Abook%3D5%3Achapter%3D9

Ptolemy lists the 'metropolis and nome' of Sais as 'between the Great river and the Therenuthis river, i.e. in the west where Sa el Hagar is. Tanis is listed as between the Busiris river and the Bubastis river, i.e. in the east near San el Hagar.
Helpful map: http://www.athenapub.com/fayump1x.GIF

Strabo we've already covered; he puts Sais in the west, although I realise you dispute this (seemingly clear, to me) reading.

According to the Satrap stele of 311, Sais is to the west of the Sebytinnic branch:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OiiUcYOHX74C&pg=PA302&lpg=PA302&dq=saite+nome&source=bl&ots=ZnvjYbtY8U&sig=V36Cl92wuXdd1LadqYoc6ZEX5bA&hl=en&ei=LVYVTOfyEoj80wSRzsX3CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=saite%20nome&f=false

Coins in Roman times were minted by each nome; Saite coins appear in the nome containing Sa el Hagar.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nome_(country_subdivision)#Survival_of_the_nomes

And on, and on...

To be honest, this seems to be getting a bit silly now. We have an admittedly puzzling reference in Herodotus, and another in Manetho, but rather than simply write those off as mistakes and go with the overwhelming evidence that Sa el Hagar is Sais, Velikovsky leaps to the conclusion that not only was Sais in the east, it actually *is* Tanis - something *no* ancient source says, and requiring him to simply ignore vast quantities of evidence.

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 2

anhaga

Just to throw a spanner in, are you two at all familiar with Martin Bernal and his 'Black Athena' collection of hypotheses? I read volumes 1 and 2 many years ago as a post-post-graduate and at the time found the whole thing quite compelling (to a leftist 20-something in the 1980ssmiley - winkeye).


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 3

taliesin

In-


smiley - tongueout


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 4

taliesin

This stuff bores me far beyond tears, but your mention of Black Athena reminded me of something I encountered a few years ago on this very Interwebs, and referenced here:

http://www.theafrican.com/Magazine/Athena/intro.htm



How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 5

Giford

In one of those bizarre coincidences that make life fun, I keep getting pop-up ads (when doing stuff totally unconnected to Egyptian history) advertising this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chronology_(Fomenko)

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 6

Clive the flying ostrich: Amateur Polymath | Chief Heretic.

Two people arguing about something I don't know much about but find mildly interesting so so me for lurking! smiley - tongueout


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 7

Clive the flying ostrich: Amateur Polymath | Chief Heretic.

My keyboard hates me. So sue me.. we need an "edit" button.


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 8

Noggin the Nog

So, for the benefit of anyone who may be reading this, and not following it because the thread started out with the continuation of an aside, what is the argument about?

You may be familiar with the general structure of Egyptian ancient history, and its division into dynasties, kingdoms, and Intermediate periods, covering the period between the unification of Egypt about 3000 BC and the conquest by Alexander in 332 BC. For those that aren't the following is a summary of the standard/conventional chronology (most dates approximate, partiularly the early ones).

Early dynastic - dynasties I and II 3000-2800
Old Kingdom (the Pyramid Age) - dynasties III to VI 2800-2100
First Intermediate Period - dynasties VII to X 2100-1900
Middle Kingdom - dynasties XI and XII 1900-1750
Second Intermediate Period (including the Hyksos Kings) - dynasties XIII to XVII 1750-1550
New Kingdom (the great Imperial Age) - dynasties XVIII to XX 1550-1100
Third Intermediate Period - dynasties XXI, the Libyan dynasties XXII and XXIII, XXIV, and the Nubian dynasty XXV 1100-664
The Late Kingdom - dynasties XXVI (670-525), the Persian XXVII (525-404), the XXVIII to XXX (404-343), and the final Persian XXXI down to Alexander's conquest.

A number of scholars have disputed the order and general structure of that part of this chronology from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the conquest of Alexander, most prominently Immanuel Velikovsky (you've probably heard of his discredited astronomical theories, but these are not relevant here), David Rohl and Peter James, who all came up with different revised chronologies, though with certain common features - most notably they all require a shortening of the accepted chronology for Egypt, and they all doubt the reality of the dark ages of Greece and Anatolia (1200-750 approx).

Of these three, Velikovsky's reconstruction is the most radical. His contention is that dynasties 19 (not 21 Gif, that just confuses things) and 20 are duplicates of the 26, and 28 to 30 dynasties respectively, that dynasty 21 is from the Persian period, and that the Libyan period has to be shortened by about 120 years (Rohl and James agree with this last).

Part of my contention is that this thread should have a subsidiary question - How credible is the conventional chronology? Where did it come from, and when, particularly in relation to the discoveries of archaeology, and the decipherment of ancient languages? As a clue, Isaac Newton was perhaps the first reviser of the conventional chronology.

Noggin

My next post will be a reply to post 1, which is something of an aside, so you can skip it if you want.


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 9

Noggin the Nog

I agree that this argument doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and it isn't a do or die issue. The evidence of the nomes seems to point to Sa el Hagar, the other written evidence seems to favour Tanis (or possibly PiRamesses).

<>

But not to me. Since Roman and Greek pottery has been found at Sa, it could easily be that the ruins seen by 19th century travellers are from that period. Of the remains claimed to connect Sa with the 26th dynasty we have one statue of a priest connected to Psamtek III, Cambyses and Darius, which is said to have come from Sais in Roman times (which doesn't help us with the location of the city), and one religious statue from the time of Psamtek II found at the site. I've already mentioned that Vel disputes the identification of Psamtek with the Greek Psammetichus, but don't propose to enter into that here.

As an afterthought, if Manetho *was* mistaken about the location of Sais, it's not impossible that he was mistaken about the 26th dynasty ruling from Sais, and he's our only source for that.

Noggin


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 10

Effers;England.


It's a real shame you guys have left the Dawkins' thread..it's kind of sputtered to a halt now. I sort of liked your obscure arcane thingy interspersed with other banter.

I may pop in here from time to time though to have a glaze over moment..a sort of intellectual petit mal.

smiley - cheers


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 11

Taff Agent of kaos

how many of the artifacts that support the chronologies can be carbon dated and have they been and what does that show??????

what does the HARD science say???

smiley - bat


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 12

taliesin

>>I may pop in here from time to time though to have a glaze over moment..a sort of intellectual petit mal.<<

smiley - snork

Moi, aussi

smiley - tongueout


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 13

Noggin the Nog

Here you go, Taff

http://www.c14dating.com/int.html

Near the bottom

"In the 1950s, further measurements on Mediterranean samples, in particular those from Egypt whose age was known through other means, pointed to radiocarbon dates which were younger than expected. The debate regarding this is outlined extensively in Renfrew (1972). Briefly, opinion was divided between those who thought the radiocarbon dates were correct (ie, that radiocarbon years equated more or less to solar or calendar years) and those who felt they were flawed and the historical data was more accurate."

You'll remember that the Egyptian material also typically appeared in younger strata than expected, too.

Noggin


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 14

Giford

Hi Taff / Nog,

Actually, surprise surprise, carbon dating gives dates in line with the standard chronology. See, for example:
http://hbar.phys.msu.ru/gorm/dating/berger2.pdf

(It did take a few years when carbon dating was first introduced in the 1950s to take into account the variations in radiation levels from the sun over time, hence the concept of 'carbon years'. Vel has seized on this - because 'carbon dates' for this period look younger than 'actual dates', but this is simply misleading. )

For the specific case in question here, see also:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=X4pkFU-iRD0C&pg=PA134&lpg=PA134&dq=carbon+dating+18th+dynasty&source=bl&ots=t46WnXD1Mh&sig=ZhHXmdLid8CJTpwO_f1F_z3tvQw&hl=en&ei=8wEaTLHqHseq4QaY1JGeCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CC8Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=carbon%20dating%2018th%20dynasty&f=false

(Make sure you read right to the end.) Velikovsky is - at best - fifty years out of date (in a science only 60 years old). And even then, the 'uncorrected' carbon dates were closer to the conventional chronology than to Vel's. No, I'm afraid carbon dating is a non-starter for Veilkovskites.

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 15

Giford

>You'll remember that the Egyptian material also typically appeared in younger strata than expected, too.

I don't remember that - I remember that scarabs are sometimes found in younger strata, and that occasionally a site is so disturbed that strata no longer exist as such.

But given than strata are basically dated by their contents, I'm not sure what the sentence even means.

(Again, sorry to be so abrupt, I'm a little pushed for time - I'm asking if you could recap what you're referring to not trying to attack you directly.)

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 16

Giford

smiley - rofl

The trickster god is up to his mischief again:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10345875.stm

Can we all go home now please smiley - smiley

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 17

Taff Agent of kaos


ask and ye shall receive

do no underestimate the power of KAOS!!!!!

smiley - bat


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 18

Noggin the Nog

Okay, okay. Though I still get a hmmm sensation when I see things like "calibrated against objects of known age". And why Egypt particularly (post 13)?

And there's still a surprising number of coincidences in the archaeological/historical material. What are the chances that, looking for a connection between the 20th dynasty and the Greco-Persian period to complete his reconstuction, Vel would find an archaeological report describing Greek letters on the backs of tiles from a temple of Rameses III? (I know your opinion on this, Gif, but even if the archaeologists were wrong[and how, in that case, they could have been mistaken might be interesting] it's still a weird coincidence). What are the chances that the Great Harris Papyrus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setnakhte#Papyrus_Harris would describe a situation of foreign rule before the beginning of the dynasty that is still a puzzle to the standard chronology, but fits the Persian period before Nepherites (alter ego of Setnakht in Vel's chronology)?

And what are the chances that Diodorus' description of the wars of Nectanebo I (alter ego of Rameses III) would make sense of the shifting alliances of Peleset, Sea Peoples and Egyptians in the inscriptions of Rameses III, which are currently entirely unexplained? And what are the chances of three coincidences like that in a brief period? No wonder some of us got confused.

Noggin


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 19

Giford

Hi Nog,

Why particularly Egypt? I don't know - at a guess, it may be because those were the earliest objects to be carbon-dated (the method was trialed on an Egyptian barque), while the dating errors were at their largest. Or perhaps it's because Egyptian objects were among the oldest of 'known' (our debate aside) date, and therefore subject to the greatest error. Maybe ancient Egypt just had particularly low solar activity.

Yes, there are still unanswered questions. I have conceded, for instance, that I don't know why Manetho would (apparently) locate Sais in the east. As to what the chances of various coincidences being - like winning the lottery, the chances of any given coincidence (or any specific person winning) may be very low, but the chances of there being *some* coincidences (or *a* winner) can be high.

For me, the question still up for debate is: was Velikovsky's alternate chronology *ever* plausible? In other words, without the apparent slam-dunk of carbon dating, was his explanation plausible, or was it ad-hoc? Even if there was no specific place where it contradicted the evidence, and bearing in mind that there is no direct evidence in favour of Velikovsky, i.e. no ancient text that clearly refers to an 18D Pharaoh living after a 26D one: how much coincidence was required before we set aside the evidence that supports the conventional chronology?

Say, for instance, that Sais was in the east. Would that prove that the Hyksos Pharaohs were not connected to the 12D Hyksos migrants? Even if it did, would that support the claim that the Bible is an accurate decription of events at the time, i.e. the Exodus?

My contention is 'no': without predictive power, Velikovsky's hypothesis can be discarded even if we cannot find specific fault with it.

But whether that's worth arguing about, I dunno smiley - smiley

Gif smiley - geek


How Credible is Velikovsky's New Chronology?

Post 20

Taff Agent of kaos

<>

are these the same sort ofcoincidences as the similarities between mithras and christ????smiley - winkeye

smiley - bat


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