Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

I have argued in the past that MB1 (or EB4) Jericho and the northern Transjordan pottery represents the pottery of the Israelites at the time of the Conquest.  Here are some quotes from leading archaeologists:

“Though the practice of single burials is so characteristic, the burial customs in other respects show many variations, and these variations are probably to be explained as evidence of a TRIBAL organisation, each group maintaining its own burial customs.” (Kenyon, 137.)

“[T]he most satisfactory explanation seems to be that the difference in burial customs is due to a TRIBAL organization.” (Kenyon, 141.)

“The concentrated cemeteries may represent tribal burial grounds….The very noticeable differences between the possessions and burial practices of all the groups described shows that though there were broad similarities there was no uniform culture in any way comparable with that of the preceding and succeeding periods, and that the groups remained separated and TRIBAL in organization.” (Kenyon, 158.)

The following are the tribes that Kenyon was able to discern:

  • Dagger-type
  • Pottery-type
  • Square
  • Shaft-type
  • Outsize-type
  • Bead-type

William Dever’s archaeological investigations of this period have increased the number of discernible tribes to seven. “Following repeated typological analyses, Dever proposed a regional subdivision of the pottery distributions on both sides of the Jordan River into SEVEN groups….” (Ben-Tor, article by Ram Gophna, 144.)

The latest Italian excavators at Jericho have brought the number of different ethnic or social groups (i.e. tribes) up to 13.  Recall that there were 12 tribes of Israel.  The Joseph tribe is usually divided into half-tribes, making the total number of tribes 13.  Three of the tribes settled in the northern Transjordan prior to the Conquest, and all of the tribes settled in distinct geographic regions:

“Actually, one wonders if further exploration of the necropolis may add new groups, as it seems to be the case judging from some tomb assemblages from Jericho studied in recent years.  For instance, Gaetano Palumbo identified at least 13 TOMB GROUPS, comparing burials, sex, social status and tomb fittings.  He isolated the indicators of a stratified society, as well as the coexistence of different “ethnic” (I would prefer “social”) groups….”  (Nigro, L, “Tel es-Sultan in the Early Bronze Age IV (2300-2000 BC).  Settlement vs Necropolis – A Stratigraphic Periodization”, in Contributi e Materiali de Archeologia Orientale IX, 2003, p. 136; emphasis added.)

“This scholar [Palumbo] also proposed the identification of some NEW CERAMIC FAMILIES in Transjordan, highlighting the strong regionalism of the EBIV culture….”  (Nigro, L, CMAO IX, 2003, footnote 83, p. 136; emphasis added.)

Book Reviews, Down Updated review.  Also, See Book Reviews.

BookReview, Long Updated Review of James D. Long, Riddle of the Exodus:


Posted: December 21, 2009 in Archaeology, Politics

Steve McIntyre is in the news recently for having undermined the “hockey-stick” graph that supposedly showed a spike in temperatures in the 20th century.  His site is here:

I debated with McIntyre on the archaeology of Shechem a few years ago on the David Rohl New Chronology List.

He was a tough critic and I think I did well in my discussion with him.  It actually gave me the confidence to write many more essays on archaeology from the New Courville perspective.

McIntyre caused a real headache for Rohl’s interpretation of the archaeology of the Amarna age vis-a-vis the Middle Assyrian kings.  (See below.)

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that McIntyre is now giving headaches to the global warming crowd.  You can’t fudge data with McIntyre.  He may or may not be right in his conclusions, but he won’t let you get away with hiding or manipulating or over-interpreting your data.

For the advancement of knowledge, you need imaginative risk-taking people to drive the wagon of new theories, but you also need people like McIntyre to grab the reins of the horses before the wagon goes over the cliff.

From my essay “Alternative Chronologies”: 


I don’t plan on spending a lot of time on this.  Steve McIntyre is to be credited for showing that Rohl has made a major mistake in his chronology on this issue.  Basically, Rohl placed Shalmaneser 1, a Middle Assyrian king, before the Amarna period in Egypt.  McIntyre has shown, convincingly, that the mA1 kings are located in strata that are at least in part on top of Amarna strata, thus showing the mA1 kings were later or overlapped in time than the Amarna pharaohs, thus disproving a major contention of Rohl’s theory.   Anyone who wants to follow up on this can do so by going to the “New Chronology” Yahoo list and simply typing in the name “McIntyre” and you should (hopefully) call up most of the emails pointing to this problem in Rohl’s chronology.



Quick Freeze

Posted: December 1, 2009 in Archaeology, Genesis Flood

Evidence that “Ice Age” phenomena can develop quickly, in a matter of months….


Purist libertarians are constantly barking at Abraham Lincoln, who was so evil as to liberate millions of people from slavery.  Now, they’re after biblical Joseph, whose great crime was in saving Egypt and the rest of the world from starvation and miserable death.  See:

It’s true that Joseph oversaw the process that saw the Egyptians giving up most of their money, personal property, and real property, as well as their service, to the king of Egypt, plus paying an excise of one-fifth of the produce from all Egypt.

But surely if the purist libertarians weren’t so caught up in fantasies of stateless, taxless, libertarian utopias, they’d see that the Egyptians had only two choices, either pay up or starve — a good example of the importance of subjective-marginal utility in making economic decisions.

In our opinion, Joseph served under 5th dynasty king Unas.  The following is from our essay, “Egyptian Chronology 3”:


As noted before, if Courville is right that MB1 represents the Exodus & Conquest, and the end of MB2c represents the destruction of Shechem by Abimelech in the late Judges period, we should expect to see Deborah somewhere in the middle of these two periods.  Sure enough, we read in the Mari letters of the MB2b period mention of one Jabin, king of Hazor.  Therefore, on the other side of MB1, we should expect to see evidence of a famine a couple hundred years or so before MB1, a famine that took place in the late Old Kingdom of Egypt.  And of course, this is what we find.  A famine is recorded in the reign of the last 5th dynasty king, Unas. “[O]ne of the most curious, and at the same time, absolutely unique representations, is that of some wretched, famine-stricken men and women.  The curious scene, which was found in a trial sondage over the lower…part of the causeway [of Unas], is puzzling.  The persons represented seem to be foreigners, but nothing remains to afford us a clue as to their identity or the cause of their wretched plight.  Most of the figures are nude, but a few wear narrow girdles, and they are most arranged in groups; they are emaciated in the extreme.” (Nicholas Reeves, Ancient Egypt: The Great Discoveries, quoting Selim Hassan, p. 187; see also, Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, p. 87; Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, p. 63; and Cambridge Ancient History 1:2, p. 189; emphasis added.)

If then we take this as our starting point for unraveling the chronology of the pre-MB1 period, we should then correlate this to Joseph and work out who the pharaohs of the Oppression and Exodus could be.  Joseph was 30 when he obtained ruler-ship in Egypt, and he was 110 at the time of his death, and thus ruled in Egypt for 80 years.  Moses was born 64 years later, and led the Israelites out of Egypt 80 years after that, and died after about 40 years in the wilderness, at the beginning of the Conquest of Canaan.  If we match up Joseph as one of Unas’s viziers, or vizier-like official, it is likely that Joseph came to his position after Unas had been on the throne for about three or four years, and thus Unas would have died shortly after the death of Jacob.  The following is a chart to express the possible relations between the biblical patriarchs and the Egyptian kings:

King Manetho Bible Age Event
1.  Unas 33 yrs Joseph 30 famine of Joseph’s time
2.  Teti 30 yrs   59  
3.  Pepi 1 53 yrs   110 21st yr of Pepi 1
4.  Merenre 7 yrs      
5.  Pepi 2 99 Moses 1 Oppression begins; 42nd year of Pepi 2
6.  Pepi 2   Moses 40 flees Egypt, 82nd of Pepi 2
7.  Pepi 2       Pepi 2 dies 17 yrs later.
8.  Merenre-Anty. 1 yr Moses 57  
9.  Nitokerty (Nitocris) 12 Moses 69 foster-mother of Moses
10.  Neferka [1?] Moses 70  
11.  Nufe 2 yrs Moses 72  
12.  Ibi 4 yrs Moses 76  
13.  lost 2 yrs Moses 79  
14.  lost 1 yr Moses 80  
15.  Achthoes 1st yr Moses 81 The Exodus begins.


Shoshenq I

Posted: August 23, 2009 in Archaeology

The “Centuries of Darkness” group has an interesting comment in their “Recent Developments” section:

“March 2009. A fascinating article has been published by Dr Rupert Chapman (British Museum), entitled “Putting Shoshenq I in His Place” in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly 141:1 (2009), pp. 4-17. Chapman presents a fresh analysis of a question that has intrigued archaeologists since 1926, when a fragment of a victory-stlea of Shoshenq I (founder of the Egyptian 22nd Dynasty) was found at the site of ancient Megiddo in Israel – it was found in the ‘dump’ from earlier excavations, but which stratum did it originally belong to? While reattributing such a find a century after it was discovered is fraught with difficulty, Chapman deduces that it was orginally set up in Stratum V, which by cross-dating with his work on the pottery of Samaria must have been a 9th-century BC level. He concludes: “On the basis of the purely stratigraphic argument set out above, it becomes clear that Sheshonq I and his expedition should also be dated to the 9th century BC.” Chapman’s paper is the first study (outside Centuries of Darkness) to argue from archaeological grounds that the conventional dating of Shoshenq I to the late 10th century BC is incorrect (see FAQ # 6 and #7).”

In terms of the New Courville perspective, the range of Megiddo level 5 is from 879 B.C. to 783 B.C. (i.e., 9th century to beginning of 8th century).  The stratum is Iron Age 2a.  In terms of our reconstruction, IA2a would be from Omri to Uzziah’s Earthquake, which covers the 9th century at the least.  (See our Iron Age 2 chart.)

Thus Chapman’s theory is consistent with New Courville’s placement in the archaeological record of Shoshenq 1 in relation to the biblical data.


The Antiquity of Man

Posted: May 26, 2009 in Archaeology

I’ve added another section to my essay, “The Antiquity of Man.”  It can be accessed under the Archaeology papers area “The Antiquity of Man 1.”  It finishes up a discussion of the three-age system.  (See section 4 “Three Ages of Man.”) 


Smoke on the Horizon

Posted: May 6, 2009 in Archaeology

Given all the talk about gay marriage in our time, my thoughts wander naturally to the subject of Sodom & Gomorrah.  The main question I’m curious about is where are they?  What is their location?  I agree with those archaeologists who believe the cities of the plain were located north of the Dead Sea, not south, as some other archaeologists have suggested.  While I’m not convinced that Tall el-Hammam is Sodom, I think the advocates of the northern theory are on the right track.  See,

I should add that for us (the New Courville theory), Abraham lived in Early Bronze Age 3 (around the time of the 4th dynasty of Egypt), so we would expect the correct cities to show a conflagration level during the EBA 3 horizon.  The southern theory has cities that are near the right time, but they are at the wrong location.


The Antiquity of Man, Part 3

Posted: April 12, 2009 in Archaeology

The Three Ages of Man


We are often treated by Darwinists to sneering accounts of Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Archbishop James Ussher.  Wilberforce may have been guilty of a facetious quip about ancestry at the British Association meeting, and opened himself up to Huxley’s innuendo, but aside from the impolite quip, his argument against Darwinism was based on scholarly grounds.  What convinced many of Darwinism was not Huxley’s retort to Wilberforce, which was hardly heard, but Joseph Hooker’s arguments on behalf of Darwinism.[1]


Ussher is vilified for dating the age of the earth to 4004 BC.   Here is what he wrote:


“The beginning of time, according to our chronology, happened at the start of the evening preceding the 23rd day of October (on the Julian calendar), 4004 BC….”[2]


Now, Ussher was a learned scholar, and used several sources for his conclusions, the Bible’s record of the passing of years, Chaldean history, the astronomical canon, and astronomical tables.  Most of his book is actually a record of secular history.  He was adopting Joseph Scaliger’s approach, who first expanded the writing of ancient history to include more than just the Greek or Roman periods, but also Jewish, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian history.  In no way could Ussher be described as an ignorant and narrow prelate, but was in fact liberal (in the good sense) for his time.  In fact, despite political differences, he was esteemed by both King James I and by Oliver Cromwell, no small accomplishment.


Ussher’s date for creation was not uncommon, and similar dates were given by Lightfoot, Scaliger, and Kepler.  Darwinists are picking up on the overly precise nature of Ussher’s date, so that by ridiculing it, they can also ridicule Christians.  Our view is that Ussher should not have attempted such precision, and should also have recognized the possibility of textual loss, meaning that more years may have passed than was calculated under his chronology.  But biblical chronology cannot be stretched too far, and for those who still believe the Bible, creation cannot have been too far removed from Ussher’s date.  The same could be said for the Flood.


Ussher’s book on history also followed the traditional “six ages” division of history, adopted since St. Augustine’s day.  It would seem at first glance that this is a stage theory of history, whereby man progresses through different stages or ages.  This concept of stages in history has certainly been abused (e.g., Hegel, Marx, and others).  Nevertheless, Reformed philosopher Cornelius Van Til points out that Christian theism does not necessarily reject stage theories of history.  What is rejected is the evolutionary conception in which “men think they can find the origin of religion in history.”[3]  Man is seen as gradually, over time, evolving into a moral or religious being, moving up from primitive stages into more advanced (superior) stages.  Van Til describes the consequences of this view: “And what is true of religion in particular is true of all the intellectual categories of man in general.  The idea that there is an absolute truth has itself appeared only gradually.”[4]


Christian stage theories of history can be simple, as in the stages of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, while others might be more complex, creating more divisions within these periods.  For instance, the division between the Old Testament and the New Testament is a stage concept.  In Christian thought, the New Testament succeeds and replaces the Old Testament.  Geerhardus Vos’s theory of development is more complex and involves different stages of revelation.  These are the Mosaic Epoch of Revelation (divided into pre-redemptive special revelation, etc.), the Prophetic Epoch of Revelation, and the New Testament revelation.  Vos says he wants to study the “actual self-disclosures of God in time and space.”[5]  This is not meant in the Hegelian sense of the unfolding of the Mind of God in history since Vos does not identify the Mind of God with history.  Rather the unfolding of the mind of God is through special revelation, i.e., the Bible.  


Such progressive revelation also presupposes stages of historical development.  Vos calls them epochs but we can just as well call them ages.  Thus, the issue regarding stage theories of history is not whether history can be so divided, but that it be done so correctly.  Unfortunately, some Christians, in their writing on creation and Flood issues, have failed to do justice to the evidence of stages in historical development.  This is especially true of the three age concept.


The three age concept is a stage theory of history which involves the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.  This system was not originally designed as an evolutionary classification, but rather as a museum classification.  It was a reasonable assumption that technology would begin with stone, then move forward into metals.  In addition, another reasonable assumption was that people who used metal weapons would hardly go back to using stone.  Even if poverty forced metal-using people to subsequently put aside their metal productions and resort to stone, this would only affect local cases.  But the “ages” of stone or metal are defined in terms of generality of use, i.e., when the stone or metal was in widespread use.


The epoch of stone tools and weapons was regarded as the first age of man, while the metal ages (bronze & iron) were regarded as the second age, and so on.  This was a good idea but not many accepted it until later excavations demonstrated its reality.  Some Christians still have not been able to provide a proper interpretation of these ages in light of the Bible.  As an example, Michael Oard has developed a theory of man’s history during the Ice Age that almost completely ignores the three age system, as well as archaeology.[6]


Oard rightly rejects the evolutionary view that the Ice Age was a time when man was supposedly evolving through a series of missing links, but then he says, “Biblical history records events during or soon after the Ice Age.  This epoch includes the Book of Job and the life and times of the Jewish patriarchs.”[7]


On Oard’s theory, man never left the Middle East until after the Tower of Babel incident.  This means that all of the Paleolithic through the Neolithic cultures must be viewed as post-Babel.  The reason why men supposedly lived exclusively in the Middle East is that they “chose to not spread out from there in disobedience to God.”[8]  Oard believes that some of the people who left Babel spread south while others spread northwest.  Those who went south encountered the Sahara while it was still teeming with life, while others journeyed as far away as New Zealand or Australia. Those who went north encountered the Scandinavian ice sheet, but endured the cold of the Ice Age because of plentiful game.  Some entered the land of the woolly mammoths while others chose to live in caves.


Oard believes these travelers were Neanderthal men and later Cro-Magnon men.  Of these men he says, “They, along with the Neanderthals, used stone tools, probably because any metal tools they possessed upon leaving Babel had worn out.”[9]  Some tribes of Paleolithic and Neolithic men also left the Tigris-Euphrates Valley going east and northeast, moving into Siberia, or crossing the Bering Strait into North America.


There are some problems with Oard’s theory.   First, it is based on an incorrect interpretation of the Bible.  Second, it suffers from a failure to properly locate the Tower of Babel incident in the archaeological levels of Mesopotamia and Southwest Asia.  Third, there is very little interaction with the three age system, or with archaeology.


In the first case, the Bible doesn’t say that all men disobeyed the command to fill the earth.  It only refers to those men who migrated to southern Mesopotamia, viz. men who journeyed from the East and settled in the plain of Shinar.  And it wasn’t their migration that was the problem, but rather their attempt to find unity on an irreligious basis.  They were scattered for their religious sins, not for their geographical preferences.  There is then no need to restrict human migration in the post-Flood era only to the Middle East or to the Fertile Crescent region.  This means that Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic populations can be post-Flood but also pre-Babel.


Second, Oard has not taken the time to study issues regarding the proper chronology of the Bible in relation to ancient near eastern archaeology.  He does not seem to be aware of Courville’s theory that the Tower of Babel incident should be located at the Jemdet Nasr level, or the New Courville theory that it should be located at the end of the Late Uruk phase.  In our opinion, this latter point in the archaeological record is about the only place the incident could have occurred.  In terms of archaeology, the Paleolithic through Neolithic levels occur prior to the Later Uruk level, and even prior to the Ubaid level.  In fact, in Mesopotamia, the Neolithic corresponds to the Hassunah culture, which is followed by the Halaf period.  Neither of these periods shows any settlements in southern Mesopotamia.[10]


This in itself would rule out Oard’s placement of Paleolithic and Neolithic peoples after the Tower of Babel incident.  Since the Tower of Babel incident happened in southern Mesopotamia, it could only have happened after the Hassunah and Halaf periods.  In addition, the Ubaid period that follows these two shows settlement in both the north and south of Mesopotamia, thus making it unlikely that the Ubaid people were the men who migrated from the East and settled in the plain of Shinar (southern Mesopotamia).  The only cultural level that makes sense is the Uruk level (which is confined to the south), and only the Late Uruk level shows evidence of city-state unity under a powerful political leader (Nimrod in our opinion), and a subsequent dispersion into the surrounding lands.[11]


The third problem regards Oard’s almost complete disregard of the three age system, which means an almost complete disregard of archaeology.  Oard shares this failing with other Christians who write on this subject.  For instance, Kurt Wise says, “Preserved in post-Flood sediments older than any Neanderthals and Hobbits are Homo erectus fossils.  Aside from the skull, Homo erectus skeletons are virtually indistinguishable from modern humans, so the evidence indicates they are human.  And, since humans did not disperse across the world until after Babel, the distribution of Homo erectus across the Old World (Java, China, Africa) suggests they not only date from after the Flood, they also date from after Babel.”[12]


Since Homo erectus fossils are regarded as coming before Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon fossils, Wise’s theory would suffer from the same problem that Oard’s suffers from, namely, that there was no settlement in southern Mesopotamia until at least the Ubaid levels, which are certainly later than Paleolithic levels.


For the New Courville theory, the Tower of Babel incident took place at the end of the Late Uruk period in southern Mesopotamia, just before the beginning of the Bronze Age.  Hence, Paleolithic and Neolithic levels must be placed before the Tower of Babel since they are at lower (earlier) levels than the Late Uruk.  It follows that Homo erectus people, Neanderthal people, and Cro-Magnon people must have spread out from the Fertile Crescent some time before Babel, not after.  We have also come to accept the view that the Paleolithic levels are post-Flood.  This would put us at odds with Classic Courville, which sees the post-Flood period as starting with the Mesolithic culture.  We will have to save a discussion of the post-Flood boundary to a later point.  Right now, we need to discuss the three age system, for it is important that Flood theorists get a handle on it. 


As we said, the three ages were not originally conceived as an evolutionary scheme.  The stone tools and artifacts were not associated with any “fossil men” or “hominids” until much later.  There is then nothing preventing us from the view that the makers of these tools were early descendants of Noah, who migrated to Asia and Europe and other places, and found themselves having to cope with glacial and interglacial conditions in the north.


To be continued



[1] For a discussion of some of the myths surrounding the Huxley-Wilberforce exchange, see: J. R. Lucas, “Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter,” at

[2] James Ussher, The Annals of the World, 1658; 2003 edition by Larry & Marion Pierce.

[3] Cornelius Van Til, Psychology of Religion, 1976, p. 82.

[4] Idem.

[5] G. Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, 1948, p. 5.

[6] Michael Oard, Frozen in Time, 2004, pp. 127ff.

[7] Oard, p. 127.

[8] Idem.

[9] Ibid., p. 129.

[10] See Ann Perkins, The Comparative Archaeology of Early Mesopotamia, 1949, p. 46.

[11] For further discussion, see our essays on the ShallowTime Blog, “The Tower of Babel.”

[12] Kurt Wise, “Lucy Was Buried First: Babel Helps Explain the Sequence of Ape and Human Fossils,” Answers in Genesis website, February 13, 2008.