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A Concluding Retort
Dr. Stiebing (Pensée, Fall, 1973) raised the evidence of stratigraphic archaeology as an argument against my reconstruction of ancient history. In my "Reply to Stiebing" (Pensée, Winter, 1973-74) I made it clear that the finds of stratigraphic archaeology gain meaning only if at some points there are links with historically datable sources, like monuments or other literary relics. The dating of these depends again on chronology of recorded history—in the case of the Hebrews, the chronology as contained in the books of the Old Testament and later sources (like Josephus Flavius); in the case of Egypt, especially since the New Kingdom, dating depends primarily on the numerically and otherwise unreliable Manetho (of the third century before the present era) as preserved fragmentarily in Josephus, Africanus, and Eusebius. Since their data are often contradictory and their figures palpably wrong, astronomical computations were brought into play—computations themselves based on information obtained from Censorinus and Theon of Alexandria (third and fourth centuries of the present era, respectively).
In an article, "Astronomy and Chronology" (Pensée, Spring-Summer, 1973), I have shown how utterly unfounded this assembly of astronomical computations is, and on how many arbitrary assumptions it depends.
The direct method of dating in stratigraphical archaeology where organic material is found is to apply radiocarbon tests. In "The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating" (Pensée, Spring-Summer, 1974) I examined the limitations of the method (mainly resulting from the catastrophic events described in Worlds in Collision), but also its reliability in properly observed conditions. In "Ash" (Pensée, Winter 1973-74) a record is made of correspondence between myself, other scholars, museums and laboratories (1952-73), in the effort to obtain some organic material necessary for checking on the accepted and revised chronologies of the New .Kingdom in Egypt. The dramatic finale was the British museum's radiocarbon test (1971) of reed from the tomb of Tutankhamen, with the resultant figure, -846; the date I offered in Ages in Chaos and in the correspondence with the laboratory of the museum of the University of Pennsylvania (March, 1964) was "ca. -840." The accepted figure is -1350. The same difference of over 500 years between the two schemes was exposed by me in bringing historical documents of Egypt and Israel into synchronism.
I explained my method used in Ages in Chaos of synchronizing these two histories. I succeeded in bringing out historical links and direct contacts (in some instances exchanges of letters, or even personal meetings, or peace treaties) at every generation, actually every decade, in some cases every year, sometimes to a day; whereas in the accepted chronography no contacts were known through centuries sign by itself that either the Egyptian or Palestinian chronology was out of focus. A reader of Ages in Chaos will remember a plethora of such links. Upon achieving an exact synchronization of the histories of these two countries, I drew conclusions as to other countries that do not have absolute chronologies of their own, like the Mycenaean or Minoan civilizations.
Stiebing in his rebuttal shows that he is insensitive to my method of first using evidence available in deciphered texts and sometimes memorialized in reliefs.
I have also controlled the results by cross-checking with developments in religion, art, and language, arriving at the same conclusions as to the chronology of the ancient East. There is no need to evoke periods of archaized styles in these three areas.
I have published in Pensée (Winter, 1973-74) the article "Metallurgy and Chronology" and took the wind out of the sails of Stiebing's discourse because his original paper centered its attack on my supposed violation of the sequence of metal ages (Bronze Age and its subdivisions, Iron Age and its subdivisions).
In "Reply to Stiebing" I referred to almost every site mentioned in his article, only to show that in each place archaeologists came upon the same imbroglio of 500 - 600 years. In each instance the archaeologists responsible for the work tried to resolve the unresolvable chronological contradiction by one or another of very many ingenious suppositions; but the archaeological readers of their printed reports—or the next set of diggers—usually accused those originally in the field of incompetence or negligence, creating "personal archaeological tragedies."
In the present issue one such tragedy, "Scandal of Enkomi," is published.
I also printed in Pensée (Winter, 197374) an article, "Scarabs," refuting Stiebing's contention that scarabs of the 18th or 19th dynasty pharaohs are regularly found in Palestine (Israel and Jordan) in the Bronze Age (Canaanite) levels. Quite contrary to this—almost as a rule—the scarabs of the 18th and 19th dynasties are found in Israelite (Iron Age) strata. Explanations vary from accusing the archaeologist of negligence, to claiming that tomb robbers deposited these scarabs in later tombs, or that scarabs were used as heirlooms 500 or 600 years after they were manufactured, or that they are not genuine, but late counterfeit of 500-year-old scarabs.
In my "Reply to Steibing" I covered every site mentioned by him, with the exception of Mycenae; I printed (Pensée, Winter, 1973-74) also a survey of 500 year disagreements concerning the antiquities of Tiryns, in the opinions of a pleiade of classical archaeologists. Israel Isaacson, my librarian assistant for several summers, in a brilliant article (Pensée, Fall, 1974) dealt with Mycenae, always drawing from original excavation reports. He supplied later material on Tiryns and briefly discussed Troy. Also, he added to my remarks on Ras Shamra and Alalakh.
I explained in my "Reply" that four sequel volumes of Ages in Chaos, two of which are in printers' proofs, will contain chapters or sections on stratigraphical problems at very many sites—from Greece to the Aegean area, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Syria, Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt. Actually, there will be chapters or sections on Jericho, Hazor, Megiddo, Beth-Shan, Samaria, Lachish, Beth-Shemesh, and other places in Palestine; on Byblos, Tell-Nebi-Mend, Alalakh, Carchemish, and other places in Syria; Boghazkoi, Yazilikaya, Alisar, Marash, Gordion, Sardis, Troy, and other places in Asia Minor; Tiryns, Mycenae, Argos, Pylos, Olympia, and Athens in Greece; and many more. Also Stythia, the Danubian region, and Etruria will be discussed.
In all places the stratigraphical archaeology will disclose confusion, due not to the negligence of field archaeologists, but to the fact that, instead of archaeology serving as a guide to history, history—as written before cuneiform or hieroglyphics were deciphered, already stiff in its reliance on Manetho and Censorinus-served as a guide to archaeology.
My and Isaacson's efforts were lost on Stiebing. Not only does he disregard the value of non-mute witnesses—the texts whether on monuments or on papyri—but in stratigraphy he, as so many other scholars, claims as fact what is expectation: he cites what should be found, and on what level, as if it is really found in proper position. He refers to things as found in strata where they should be if the schemes were correct. It is, however, remarkable that by whatever method—stratigraphy, readable material, or carbon dating—it is always the same 500+ years that separates the opinions and that turns the history of archaeology into a history of strife.Stiebing attacks my work which is in volumes not yet published (The Dark Age of Greece, The Assyrian Conquest, Ramses II and His Time, and Peoples of the Sea) and which he could not have read; but he also demonstrates his unfamiliarity with Ages in Chaos volume I, printed and reprinted since 1952, for the criticism of which he requires space in Pensée for the second time. Not only that he does not refer to the body of the published volume, but in the present rebuttal he says that I place the El-Amarna correspondence in the "eighth-seventh centuries," which is one or two centuries after King Jehoshephat of Jerusalem, Ahab of Samaria, or Shalmanesar III of Assyria. Could anyone who read pp. 223-340 of Ages in Chaos volume I attribute to me the placing of the El-Amarna letters into the eighth or seventh centuries?
PENSEE Journal X