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Open letter to science editors


KRONOS Vol IV, No. 1


The following item has been submitted by Artur Isenberg, sometime contributor to this journal (See KRONOS II:1, "Devi and Venus", KRONOS II:3, "Dating the Great Mahabharata War: A Previously Neglected Clue"). The attentive reader should clearly see the applicability of Prof. Roy's words to the chronology of the pre-Hellenistic Mediterranean world. - The Ed.


"Before proceeding further, a note of caution in regard to what may be called the pathology of 'chronological ankylosis' is necessary. The disease arises as follows: Someone suggests (on the basis of a possible synchronism), that the date of 'X' is, say, 600 B.C. It is accepted in the absence of any alternative, and a system of chronology is developed around that date, i.e. other dates are woven round that supposed epoch of 'X'. Subsequently, some scholar examines the original synchronism in depth, and conclusively shows it to be untenable: The basic synchronism is broken. However, . . . chronological inertia comes in and the scholars are reluctant to leave that original date of 600 B.C., first proposed in respect of other kings and events. The scholars cling to it subconsciously . . . even though the synchronism has been broken [and] would go back utmost to 700 B.C. or 800 B.C. They do not realize (even though the original synchronism is broken) that a fresh determination is necessary and that it is not necessary to cling to 600 B.C. anymore. This is 'chronological inertia', and it has particularly overtaken the prehistory of India and Iran. It is therefore very necessary to remind the scholars that 'Once the original synchronism is broken - the date becomes open: it MUST be determined afresh on fresh material, if available. It should also be recognized that all the other dates woven round it merely give a relative chronology, and would have to be necessarily revalued once the original date is given up.'

"An extreme form of this malaise is the pathological condition which may be called 'chronological ankylosis'. In [the] advanced stage of the disease, the scholars shut their eyes to facts, take the original framework as fixed (ankylosed) and feel acute pain, if any re-examination is proposed . . . To challenge [the facts] or even to propose to re-examine them is heresy, and causes acute pain as in ankylosis.

"This is a dangerous symptom for any science, because free thinking is the key to scientific progress. The only requirement of science is concordance with facts and, therefore, it is suggested that a re-examination of Indian chronology is urgently called for - particularly in regard to the absolute dates of important events."

(Reprinted, by permission, from S. B. Roy,
The Academic Press, Gurgaon, Haryana, India; 1976.
Copyright: S.B. Roy, 1976; pp. 13 to 15.)

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