The Bible and radiocarbon dating : archaeology, text and science in SearchWorks catalog
(The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating, Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Higham, A.J. Shortland, Today, most archaeologists in Israel still hold with the conventional . Is radiocarbon dating more reliable to determine Biblical chronology than traditional methods of dating archaeological strata?. Differing climates complicate the use of radiocarbon dating the Bible as a blueprint for archaeological chronology, versus others who claim.
The power and prestige of Solomon as represented in the Bible has been most recently challenged on archaeological grounds by I. Silberman in their book David and Solomon 6. When British archaeologists carried out the first controlled excavations in the highlands of Edom southern Jordan in the s and s 7using relative ceramic dating methods, they assumed that the Iron Age IA in Edom did not start before the 7th c.
BCE, confirming the minimalist position concerning the HB and archaeology. On the basis of the dating of the Edom highland excavations, Glueck's excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh which he identified with Solomon's Red Sea port of Ezion Geber in south Edom and most IA sites in this region were reinterpreted as belonging to the 7th c.
BCE and hence, in no way connected to the 10th c. BCE phenomenon were discarded and assumed to date to the 7th—8th c. The 14C dates associated with smelting debris layers from Faynan reported here demonstrate intensive 10th—9th c.
BCE industrial metallurgical activities conducted by complex societies. The analytical approach advocated here argues for an historical biblical archaeology rooted in the application of science-based methods that enables subcentury dating and the control of the spatial context of data through digital recording tools. Advances in IA Levantine archaeology can serve as a model for other historical archaeologies around the world that engage ancient historical texts such as the Mahabharata and other ancient writings in India 9the Sagas of Iceland 10and Mayan glyphs Archaeological Context and Discussion.
The work reported here represents the large-scale excavations at the IA copper production site of Khirbat en-Nahas KEN 12 and is a part of a deep-time study of the impact of mining and metallurgy over the past 8 millennia in Jordan's Faynan district. By the 7th—6th c. Edom is characterized by 2 major geomorphologic units, the highland plateau and the lowlands that border Wadi Arabah.
High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan
Concerning the Negev Highland settle-ments, Finkelstein dated them to the 11th century BCE, forcing an historical interpretation which would fit this period; more recently he lowered this date to the 10th century BCE, in accord with his LC Finkelstein h and thus he now agrees to the mainstream conventional dating of these sites Cohen ; Cohen and Cohen-Amin ; Haiman ; Herzog and Singer-Avitz He also accepts the view, long ago suggested by Cohen, Meshel, and others, that these sites should be identified with the dozens of Negev sites mentioned by Shishak.
The interpretation of these sites as related to the United Monarchy as suggested by Cohen and others remains in my view the most feasible one. This conclusion based, as mentioned above, on agreements between all sides in this debate makes the LC impossible, at least in Judah, Northern Negev, and the southern coastal plain.
Consequently, the picture emerging concerning the status of Judah in the 10th century BCE must differ from that described by Finkelstein a.
Shishak's raid has been considered by many as a benchmark for the late 10th century BCE, yet there are diverse views concerning the question of whether Shishak indeed destroyed cities, and if so, which archaeological levels can be identified as having been destroyed by him.
Our suggestion that a vast destruction layer at Tel Rehov should be attributed to Shishak since the place is men-tioned in his inscription and since this destruction can he dated to the second half of the 10th century Bruins, van der Plicht, and Mazar ; Mazar was severely attacked by Finkelstein and Piasetzky Yet at the same time Finkelstein b suggested that a series of other destructions should be attributed to Shishak, even at sites not mentioned in his list, such as Tel Miqne-Ekron Stratum IV.
This dual approach remains mysterious to me. We should either believe that Shishak simply moved through the country without causing destructions thus Na'aman or leave open the possibility that indeed he destroyed cities and settlements perhaps only partlyand in such a case the search for such destruction layers remains a legitimate one, particularly in a place like Rehov which is mentioned in his list. This latter approach is more feasible in my view.
Lawrence Stager brought up the case of Taanach as an example of a city mentioned in Shishak's list where only one destruction level—that of Period IIB—can be identified as the city destroyed by him. A variation is Herzog's view Finkelstein's discussion of Taanach h is based on dismissing the pottery from Period I as irrelevant due to the fact that most of it included only sherds.
Yet such a dismissal stands against the principles of archaeological investiga-tion. Rast's conclusions were carefully crafted and should not be rejected. Evaluation of these points of reference negates Finkelstein's LC. The Modified Conventional Chronology and Iron HA Material Culture The results of the archaeological work of the s and renewed analysis of various sites led me to change my previous view and accept Aharoni and Amiran's scheme from with some modifications.
This scheme enables the definition of three major pottery periods in the years between ca. These scheme is supported by "C dates from Tel Rehov Mazar et al.
It was recently accepted by several scholars as the best resolution for Iron Age chronology Ben-Shlomo, Shai, and Maeir In contrast to Finkelstein's view, I suggest that during the first half of the 10th century BCE a major change took place in the material culture throughout the country; this change brought to an end the Canaanite Second Millennium culture as is best demonstrated by Stratum VIA at Megiddo and related strata in the northern valleys, such as Yogi-team, Dor and Tell Keisan.
The new material culture is characterized by various aspects—from new modes of pottery production domi-nance of red slip and hand burnish, disappearance of the Canaanite painted pottery tradition to settlement patterns, architecture and religious art.
It should though be acknowledged that a definition of the material culture of the United Monarchy is strewn with difficulties. Since archaeology supplies the only first-hand evidence for this period, apart from Shishak's inscription at Karnak, it is essential to define properly which archaeological remains can be dated to the time of this kingdom.
In my view both options are open in many cases, while Finkelstein's view does not leave such an option and according to him all Iron Age IIA contexts should be dated to the 9th century BCE alone I claim that the archaeological picture is far from being 'crystal clear', and that the traditional paradigm of 'the archaeology of the United Monarchy' remains a legitimate possibility, though not mandatory for summaries see Dever ; Mazar Their dating to the 9th century BCE a main point in Finklestein's theory; see also Franklin [Chapter 18, this volume] would leave for the entire years between ca.
This is not impossible, but not very feasible, especially when taking into consideration the tight stratigraphy and pottery developments at sites like Hazor and Tel Rehov, and the clear 10th-century BCE date of two Iron IIA levels at Tel Rehov.
The strongest point in favor of a 9th-century BCE date of the Megiddo palaces is their building technique and masons marks which resemble those at Samaria Finkelstein Yet this resemblance can be explained if we assume that both kings—Solomon and Ahab—used Phoenician masons.
Shortland Abstract In reconstructing ancient historical chronologies, much use has been made of chronological pins between neighbouring states, linking their chronologies together. Due to the danger of circular arguments, it works entirely from Egyptian records, rather than combining these with biblical or Assyrian dates as is normal. It assesses the way the Egyptian chronology is put together and its strengths and weaknesses and goes on to examine in detail the Third Intermediate Period, specifically the 22nd and 25th Dynasties.
In doing this it draws extensively on Kitchena standard reference work for this period, but one that may not be totally accessible to those not specializing in Egyptian archaeology.
It emphasizes that, while not perfect, the Egyptian chronology is very robust and internally consistent, even without reference to external events. Introduction The reconstruction of ancient chronologies is always a difficult issue, and often a contentious one.
This is especially so when, as is usually the case, the chronology is constructed from many different types of evidence: Add to this the interconnect-edness of ancient nations and therefore the necessity to take into account the histories of several neighbouring states when considering one, and the situation is ripe for confusion and dispute. The aim of this chapter is to look again at one incident where two of these ancient nations are apparently interconnected.
The textural reference is shown below: He carried off the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made'.
The order of the kings is fairly well established, and proceeds mostly in a sensible father-to-son pattern. The gap between the two dynasties can be bridged by reference to the extremely useful Apis 24, 1, which also gives a sensible reign length for the shadowy Osorkon IV. In the simplest form, the date of the accession of Sheshonq I can be taken as the total of the highest regnal dates of all the kings of the 22nd and 25th Dynasties.
This would be years, giving a date of BCE. However, this is not the best fit to all the data, and ignores hard evidence from the Apis and Pasenhor genealogies.
Using these, Osorkon IV's reign must be extended from the nonsensical zero to 15 years and Shabitqo from 3 to about 12 years. This lengthens the chronology by 24 years, and takes it back to BCE.
Thus from entirely internal Egyptian evidence, a minimum date of BCE and a probable date in the mids BCE must be postulated as the most likely date for the accession of Sheshonq I. This is remarkably close to the date derived from the use of external evidence BCEstrengthening the assessment that the chronologies here are coherent and reasonable.
The actual date of the campaign of Sheshonq is based on the fact that the reliefs in the Bubastite Portal are unfinished and therefore the campaign and the reliefs are interpreted as falling late in his reign. Since he reigned for 21 years, year 20 is usually cited as the year of the campaigns, a date of BCE. Speculation has been made that the campaigns represented in the Bubastite Portal may be just one of several campaigns made by Sheshonq I in the Levant, and attacks may have been made earlier in his campaign, leaving destruction layers in the Levantine cities perhaps dating to the s and s BCE.
This is possible, but no evidence exists from Egyptian records for such attacks. While there are inconsistencies with tying the Bubastite Portal campaign in with the damage on the ground seen in archaeological excavation, from an entirely Egyptian point of view, it still remains the best fit. As can be seen, the Egyptian chronology, like that of all other ancient chronologies, requires contradictory evidence to be weighed and assessed before a most likely chronology can be drawn up.
It is not perfect, not free of error and not 'set in stone', but is subject to new findings and new interpretations. It does, however, stand up remarkably well to such findings, and the arguments now usually revolve around one or two years on the end of reigns and the affiliations of individual kings rather than wholesale changes in the length or nature of the chronology.
As such we can be very confident of ascribing the accession of Sheshonq I to the middle of the s BCE. Censorinus edn Censorini De die natali liber ad Q. Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar Zeitschrift fur Aegypt sche Sprache Manetho edn Aegyptiaca trans. Bruins, and Thomas Higham Abstract This study explores the chronological assumptions that underlie the past 40 years of Iron Age archaeological investigations in southern Jordan and offers an alternative framework based on the application of high precision radiocarbon dating.
Strati-graphic excavations, new high precision radiocarbon dating using short-life samples, and small finds such as ceramics, scarabs, and arrowheads from the site show the centrality of the Iron Age landscape in the copper ore-rich lowlands of Edom for the formation of complex societies in this part of the southern Levant. The new data presented here challenge previous assumptions about the Iron Age in Jordan, such as a the formation of the Iron Age kingdom of Edom only took place in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE and b no monumental building activities took place in Transjordan during the 10th century BCE.
Bayesian statistical analyses of the radiocarbon dates from KEN are presented by Higham et al. Chapter 11, this volume. Introduction This study discusses some of the archaeological and historical implications of the latest suite of high precision radiocarbon dates obtained from the Oxford and Groningen radiocarbon laborato-ries from the recent excavations at the Iron Age metal production center at Khirbat en-Nahas in Jordan.
To appreciate the impact of these new radiometric dates on the Iron Age archaeology of southern Jordan, and radiometric dating on historical archaeology in general, some discussion of the role of text and archaeology must be discussed in order to attain some of the goals of a 'New Biblical Archaeology' outlined at the beginning of this volume see Chapter 1.
In the 19th century, systematic archaeological research in the southern Levant—the Holy Land—was born with the aim of exploring the relationship between text the Hebrew Bible and the newly understood field of archaeology. The unique historical relationship between the Hebrew Bible Old Testament and the landscape of Palestine created what might be called the 'tyranny of the text'.
Accordingly, in approaching the archaeological record of the southern Levant, from its 19th-century beginnings until the mids, archaeologists consistently approached the archaeological record of the Holy Land by first examining biblical text and then searching for material culture proof to support the text as historical fact Albright ; Glueck a; Wright Following the discovery of incon-sistencies between text and the archaeological record at key sites such as Jericho, which was supposed to have been destroyed by Joshua and the Israelite tribes at the end of the Late Bronze Age, cracks developed in the paradigm known as 'Biblical Archaeology'.
By the s, a growing number of researchers accepted that there were limitations on the role of archaeology in establish-ing the historicity of the Hebrew Bible along the lines that Albright and others had pro-posed. This was an effort to shed the weight of the tyranny of the biblical text Deveron the archaeological record of the southern Levant.
Self-appointing themselves as the new Tost-Processual' paradigm, Hodder, and others Preucel and Hodder [eds. The most significant Post-Processual critique, and most applicable to Levantine Archaeology, was the fact that Processual archaeology had an anti-historical bias that assumed a kind of 'universal humanism' making it possible to construct 'laws' of human behavior. Perhaps the notion that the Bible represents a kind of 'tyranny of the text' for archaeologists is simply inappropriate for the archaeology of the southern Levant where so much of the Hebrew Bible takes place.
The leading historical archaeologists working in the southern Levant were primarily secular Ben-Tor [ed. Middle Bronze—Iron Age in the southern Levant did adopt many of the methodologies proposed by the New Archaeology, such as interdisciplinary research and a real interest in the application of new technologies for archaeological research.
However, the question remained—how best to bring together text and archaeology. The emergence of the so-called Biblical Minimal-ist paradigm cf.
Upstart carbon dating study could force rewrite of Holy Land’s biblical timeline
Davies ; Thompson ; Whitelam argued that the Hebrew Bible lacks any historical data whatsoever so it is a totally unreliable source. As discussed earlier Levy and Higham [Chapter 1, this volume]given the large number of interconnections between biblical and extra-biblical ancient sources cf. Dever, the Biblical Minimalist paradigm is untenable today. When researchers grasp on to any historical piece of data uncriti-cally, whether it is the Hebrew Bible or extra-biblical textual data from media such as monumental inscriptions, ostraca ink on potteryengraved silver, inscribed stone seals or a seal impression, to interpret the archaeological record they run the risk of simplification and finding what their preconceived views want to find Schniedewind For the past ca.
In what follows, we will illustrate how an over-reliance on extra-biblical textual data for ancient Edom has led to major chronological problems and consequently, problems with historical and anthropological interpreta-tion. We argue that only with the enthusiastic adoption of radiocarbon dating for the Iron Age archaeology of the southern Levant will it be possible to objectively investigate the relationship between the historical texts and archaeology for this period.
The two most important physiographic attri-butes of Edom include: The differences between these two geomorphic zones are pronounced. For example, the edge of the highlands, overlooking the Wadi Arabah that separates modern Israel and Jordan, is characterized by elevations that reach over masl, a semi-arid landscape and pockets of Mediterranean rainfall zones with over mm of average annual rainfall Centre