Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vern Crisler’s Revisionist Crisis?

Damien F. Mackey

Many revisionists, and Vern may be one of them, have what seems to me the unfortunate habit of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’, of jettisoning the really solid discoveries of pioneers like Drs. Immanuel Velikovsky and Donovan Courville in an over-exuberant ‘windstorm’ of revisionism, and then fishing about in the murk. Vern is a would-be ‘Neo-Courvillean’ (see his article, “Neo-Courville Interpretation - Differences with Courville”:, but his effort falls far short of Courville’s and I think that he would have been better off had he stuck with the original.
Thus Vern, like many of those who boast of theirs as being a ‘New’ Chronology – that is, one that has significantly divorced itself from the original models – has abandoned the compelling Velikovskian/Courvillean/Glasgow identification of the biblical “King Shishak of Egypt” - who plundered the Temple of Yahweh at the time of king Rehoboam of Judah (1 Kings 14:25-26) - with the mighty (Napoleon-like) Thutmose III of Egypt’s 18th dynasty. By rejecting this equation, one also rejects all of the evidence that revisionists have stored up in favour of this view (e.g. the whole Hatshepsut/Sheba thing; and queen Tahpenes; and Genubath = Genubatye, etc.). See e.g. my “The House of David”, at: And “Saul, Tahpenes and Genubath in the Historical Records” at:
And I have further added to all this in my recent post (28/10/2010) for the AMAIC (at: "A Revised History of Northern Israel from Jeroboam I to Jehu".

OK, there will certainly be archaeological problems associated with the overall models of Velikovsky and Courville, because they are wrong. But let’s not abandon the ‘baby’ for the sake of the messy ‘bathwater’.
Now, with what mighty pharaoh does Vern instead identify ‘Shishak’ of massive strength? I shall let him tell of that:
The Neo-Courville Interpretation has Merneptah is Shishak, and we
have an actual statement from Merneptah that he conquered Israel.
Moreover, Merneptah was the son of Ramses 2, who can be correlated
archaeologically to Ahiram, and this Ahiram I believe is none other
than the Hiram who was the Phoenician ally of David & Solomon. The
only archaeological "squeeze" that's required for this identification
is a recognition that the Iron Age 1 is only about 10 or 20 years,
not 2 or 3 hundred years. The only real reason IA1 is stretched out
to 2 or 3 hundred years is because there's a 300 year archaeological
gap between the end of the Late Bronze Age (end of 14th century,
conventional dating) and the Iron 2b period (beginning of divided
kingdom and start of Omri's reign on conventional dating). Thus,
what is really a non-existent archaeological interlude is filled in
with the biblical Judges & Monarchy period. Thus, a failed
chronology of the ancient world is rescued by appeal to the
historical truthfulness of the Bible -- though denying the truth of
biblical history is the consquence of the acceptance of conventional

Merenptah [Merneptah], the ageing king of a dying 19th dynasty!
“He conquered Israel”. But did Merenptah launch a frontal attack on Jerusalem, as did ‘Shishak’? And, if so, where is the record of it?
[For my locating of these Ramessides, see]
Vern claims to be big on the importance of archaeology, but he virtually annihilates all Iron Age strata. Whoops.

Revisionists -- if they want to be scientific --need to accept what archaeologists say when it comes to their own
business, and the business of archaeologists is to analyze pottery,
and to link it up with Egypt as best they can. Denying the basic
facts as presented by archaeologists will be an uphill battle, and
anyone who does so should have an abundance of evidence to show that
archaeologists are wrong in their description of the archaeological
facts. Nevertheless, most revisionists are not trained in
archaeology or history, and should not be disagreeing with
archaeologists when it comes to a description of the basic
archaeological facts. That's not to say that revisionists can't
disagree with the *interpretations* of those facts by archaeologists,
especially chronological interpretations, but revisionists will be on
shaky grounds if they adopt the approach of Velikovsky, Mackey, and
others in telling archaeologists how to do their business.

Normally speaking, the ‘baby’ is always more impressive than is the ‘bathwater’, and, once it is thrown out, the substitute is always a miserable one. For instance, no efforts by revisionists (Vern, Rohl, etc.) to find a substitute era for El-Amarna - different from the Velikovsky-Courville C9th BC one - can hold a candle to the original. The power of this latter was well appreciated by the ‘Glasgow school’ of the 70’s and 80’s, who saw in Velikovsky’s Ben-Hadad I = Abdi-ashirta and Hazael = Aziru, a most compelling foundation for the revision. And they initially built on it splendidly, with Dr. John Bimson adding another Ben-Hadad to the sequence, and Peter James, in one of the best modifications of the early revision, pinning the biblical Jehoram of Judah to El-Amarna’s Abdi-hiba.
Can their ‘New’ chronologies match these? By no means.

A huge stumbling block to the revision of Mesopotamia, and to a revised stratigraphy, has been the person of Hammurabi. Historians do not have a clue about where to locate him. Courville famously described Hammurabi as ‘floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea’, and promptly dragged him down the centuries to c. 1400 BC, to the time of Joshua. This was based on a most tenuous supposed link with the biblical Jabin of Hazor – a link that Vern has basically retained (though with this slight modification).

10. The Palestinian Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, and
Iron Ages are keyed to Egyptian chronology. Mesopotamian,
Babylonian, Assryian chronology (at least for pre 911 BC) is
reconstructed on the basis of king lists, and other sources. There is
at least one important correlation between Mesopotamian chronology
(in the broad sense) and Egyptian chronology, and that's the relation
between Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad, Mari's Zimri-Lim, Babylon's
famous king Hammurabi, king Yantin'ammu of Byblos, and Egypt's
Thirteenth Dynasty kings Khasekhemre Neferhotep and Khaneferre
Sobekhotep 4. These can be correlated with a Jabin, King of Hazor,
who is mentioned in the Mari letters. (See *Chronologies in Old World
Archaeology*, p. 55 and Yadin's *Hazor*, p. 5.)
The archaeological period is MB2b. Archaeologists use the date of
Hammurabi to date the rest of these kings, but of course, the
date of Hammurabi is a matter of intense controversy among
archaeologists, who divide up into those who adopt a high, middle, or
low chronology. Revisionists, of course, reject all three views.
Rohl thinks this Jabin is Jabin 1 who lived in Joshua's day, but on
the Neo-Courville Interpretation, it would be Jabin 2, who lived in
Judge Deborah's day. I have MB2c as the time of Abimelech's
destruction of the city of Shechem.

Connecting Hammurabi to the Middle Bronze Age II causes chaos with archaeology, for instance with the famous Jericho, where have been found Babylonian cylinder seals, stylistically dated to the reign of Hammurabi. And, though revisionists have definitely steered King Hammurabi closer to chronological ‘port’ (c. 1400 BC as opposed to the conventional c. 1800 BC), he is still floating off a long, long way from his true chronological home.
It was Dean Hickman who, in a paper (“The Dating of Hammurabi”) - of the same sort of inestimable value for the revision as Peter James’s on Jehoram; and Dr. Eva Danelius’s on Shishak; and Ed Metzler’s on Solomon & Sheba - appreciated the true era of Hammurabi, i.e., at the time of David and Solomon. Hickman’s was almost half a millennium after Courville’s date for the great king. As Velikovsky had done for El-Amarna, so did Hickman do for this era, identifying Shamsi-Adad I with the biblical Hadadezer, foe of David’s, the former’s father, Ilu-kabkabu (or Uru-kabkabu), with Hadadezer’s father, Rechob (2 Samuel 8:3), and so on.
I have since taken this much further (see my Zimri-Lim articles at the California Institute for Ancient Studies: and, there identifying Zimri-Lim with Hammurabi’s foe, Rezin, whose father, Eliada, I have identified with Zimri-Lim’s father, Iahdu-lim. Hammurabi is Solomon himself, as ruler of Babylon. Iarim-Lim, the greatest king of his era, according to the Mari letters, is David’s and Solomon’s ally, Hiram (much earlier than Vern’s view of Hiram as the Ahiram at the time of Ramses II).

How does the above Neo-Courville Interpretation differ from Paleo-
Courville views? Vern Crisler asks.
Perhaps it would be good to examine Courville's view in the light of other, similar conceptions of ancient
chronology. One of these is by Damien Mackey at [the California Institute for Ancient Studies website]. …. Mackey's chronology identifies (makes contemporaneous) the end of the
Middle Bronze Age with the end of the Early Bronze Age. This is much
more radical than Courville's view. Courville realized he couldn't
make the MB2a period (Egyptian 12 dynasty and start of 13th) contemporaneous with the EB3 period, so he basically *delinked* the
12th dynasty from the MB2a period. This allowed him to place the
12th dynasty as contemporary with the 6th dynasty (correlated to EB3
in conventional chronology).

If we are talking archaeology, as Vern wishes - and quite rightly - then I am following the view of no less an authority than Dr. Rudolph Cohen, known as “the King of the South”, who has recognized compelling likenesses between the biblical Israelites of the Exodus/Wandering, on the one hand, and the nomadic Middle Bronze I [MBI] people, on the other. That, coupled with the view of another expert archaeologist of the region, Professor Immanuel Anati, that the Early Bronze III [EB III] Jericho was the site level destroyed by Joshua and his army, has to be the foundation for any biblically-based archaeology. I have often insisted upon this ‘baby’. Typically, Vern has ‘de-linked’, and the ‘baby’ has gone right down the plughole.
Courville’s radical proposal of an alignment of Egypt’s Old and Middle kingdoms, which I accept - though it all still needs to be properly integrated - necessitates a re-naming of the major phases of Egyptian history and the corresponding archaeology.
And (not a Courvillean view) Hammurabi must be recognized as belonging later than the Middle Bronze II period. Of course the latter does not “link up [with] 12th dynasty Egypt”, as Vern will now say, which I am claiming is far earlier than Hammurabi!

Courville's approach is possible, given how difficult it is to link
up 12th dynasty Egypt with the MB2a pottery period. (For a
comprehensive overview of the links, and the tenuous nature of these
links, see Susan L. Cohen's *Canaanites, Chronologies,
and Connections: The Relationship of Middle Bronze Age IIA Canaan to
Middle Kingdom Egypt* [2002], p. 132.) Nevertheless, while it seems
possible to delink 12th dynasty Egypt from the MB2a pottery horizon,
this doesn't mean it's plausible. Such a delinkage would also
require that the 12th dynasty be disconnected from the 13th dynasty,
since the latter dynasty is clearly connected to both MB2a & MB2b
pottery contexts. (See, Ibid., p. 49, 135, etc.)
Mackey thinks that he can adopt the more radical view -- correlating
the late EB period with the late MB period [but see my comments above on the need for a re-casting & re-naming of the conventional archaeological series – what I actually “correlate” is EBIII with MBI] -- on the basis of some of
Kathleen Kenyon's doubts about linear approaches to stratigraphy.
However, Kenyon fully [and wrongly] accepts the linearity of stratigraphy during the Bronze and Iron ages. A more careful reading of Kenyon indicates that her doubts are about the linearity of pottery cultures that were
in existence *before* the Bronze age. In other words, she's talking
about the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, not the later Bronze
and Iron age stratigraphy of Palestine.

Mackey also wants to reject the linearity of Mesopotamian strata so
that he can get all the various flood layers in Mesopotamia
to correlate with Woolley's flood strata at Ur, and hence with the
biblical flood. This approach, however, makes the unwarranted
assumption that Woolley's Ur flood strata represents the Genesis
Flood. If it doesn't, then there isn't any need to link up all of
the Mesopotamian flood layers. Local floods do happen, after all,
and have happened all throughout history.

True, “floods do happen”, but Woolley had estimated that this particular one at Ur had stretched out over hundreds of miles (400 miles long and 100 miles wide in fact). So, if he was correct in his estimate, it must of necessity correlate with other major flood evidences at other sites (“various flood layers in Mesopotamia”). By correlating these, we will be able to perform a Courvillean ‘revolution’ on early Mesopotamian history, just as in the case of his proposed alignment of Egypt’s Old and Middle kingdoms.

Mackey has Joseph in the 3rd dynasty, and Moses in the 4th. This
would make it impossible for the MB1 strata to be the Exodus/Conquest
strata, since those are MB1 (which is post 6th dynasty).

Not if the 6th dynasty is not placed in its usual linear sequence well beyond the 4th dynasty.

I agree with Courville and Mackey that the 1st & 3rd dynasties of Egypt were in part contemporaneous, but Courville's "eight lines of evidence"
are not very convincing in themselves. I had to find other lines of
evidence to make the claim more plausible. See:

Ultimately Mackey uses this 1/3 dynasty contemporaneousness to bring
Joseph all the way back to the 1st dynasty. This is pretty
implausible. He also suggests that 11th dynasty is contemporary with
the 1/3rd dynasties, and thinks that Abraham must have been in the 9
& 10th dynasties.

I think that, just as the major flood layers in Mesopotamia can serve to tighten up the history of that region, so can the great Joseph in his various guises do the same for early Egypt. Astute revisionists (e.g. Tom Chetwynd) have drawn many parallels between Joseph and the Vizier Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty. I have suggested that the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, built by Imhotep, was a ‘material icon’ of his father Jacob’s vision of a ladder (or staircase or ramp) to heaven. And indeed Egyptologists (e.g. Joyce Tyldesley) have spoken of the pyramids as ‘staircases to heaven’. But pharaoh Unas of the 5th dynasty also talks about a ‘ladder to heaven’ (Pyramid Texts), and he was also, as Vern notes, a king of a famine era. The great sage Ptah-hotep, who lived to be 110 (same age as Joseph) and who wrote along the lines of the biblical Proverbs, must also be Joseph. And, finally, I accept Courville’s view that Joseph was the mighty vizier, Mentuhotep (but not that there was a famine in the 12th dynasty, but in the 11th). Egypt used different theophorics in different regions, and so the one person could be Im- and Ptah- and Mentu- [Hotep] depending on whether it were Heliopolis, Memphis or Thebes.
To be considered: Unas might be the Uenepehes of the 1st dynasty, ‘both’ famine era pharaohs.
Vern’s linear approach, which is the conventional attitude, misses out on so much richness – too much ‘bathwater’ and very little ‘baby’.
Vern continues:

However, this won't work, either because the 9th
and 10th dynasties are recognized by Egyptologists as having been
largely or at least partly contemporaneous with the 11th dynasty.
Thus, if Joseph is correlated with the 1/3rd dynasty, then there's
nowhere for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob to have lived, except in the pre-
Dynastic period of Egypt. This is ultimately what Mackey will have
to do if he places Joseph in the 1/3rd dynasty.

With Abraham in the 9th/10th and Joseph in the 11th dynasty, then we get the right historical-biblical sequence, with Joseph being a great-grandson of Abraham’s. But I think also to be considered is a recent view that Jacob was the 14th or 15th (there is uncertainty about it) dynasty ‘Hyksos’ ruler, Yaqub-har. Abraham could then possibly be the ‘Hyksos’ ruler of vast influence (from Crete to Baghdad), though hard to pin down (perhaps nomadic like Abraham?), Khyan.
With possible regard to this, there is a very Abraham-like character from folklore (Book of Jasher), ‘Rikayon’, who was said to have brought to Egypt from Mesopotamia great wisdom and learning (e.g. astronomy & mathematics), as Abraham is also traditionally said to have done.
Khyan could perhaps be this Ri-kayon.

Mackey discusses various king lists, quoting Storck's writings.
While Storck's views are interesting, they are hardly conclusive. He
has himself warned against basing a lot of one's historical
reconstructions on superficial name similarities. Mackey follows
Storck in identifying the time of Abraham with Ur 3, but this is just
the same correlation that is given by conventional chronology.

I no longer accept Ur III as belonging to the time of Abraham, but much later. On this, see my recent article, “Biblical Amraphel Was Not Hammurabi But Lived Much Earlier“, at: based on the evidence of e.g. the Spartoli Collection, where Hammurabi refers retrospectively (note) to three of the four coalitional kings from the east – those whom Genesis 14 records as having invaded Palestine whilst Abram was living there.

There are a lot of other problems with Mackey's chronology --
identifying Moses with Mycerinus is one of the more glaring -- but
most of his arguments play what some have called "the name game" and
such superficial correlations between various names of the ancient
world are just not enough evidence on which to base a chronology.

Moses, we are told by legend, was ‘a king’. And the Bible depicts him as a mild, goodly and just man. So was Mycerinus, whom Herodotus compares favourably against the nasty and unloved Cheops and Chephren.
Mycerinus may not be Moses, but at least he fits well in my sequence - with Joseph in the 3rd dynasty, and with 4th dynasty Cheops as the ‘new king’ of Exodus 1:8, and with Chephren as his wicked successor. But, for the full Moses, as with Joseph, we must abandon that rigid linearity. Otherwise we end up with that residue (watery) trace of a person, after the ‘baby’ has been tipped out.

All of the above lines of argumentation should be enough to show that
Mackey's anti-linear approach to chronological revisionism just
cannot be sustained.
Courville usually stays within the reservation when it comes to the
basic facts. ….

I think that Velikovsky and Courville got us all off to a very good start. And that we need to retain their tour de force discoveries, whilst rejecting what is obviously against the facts. I think that the early Velikovskian-Courvillean modifiers (notably the ‘Glasgow school’) were able to make great progress by retaining the ‘baby’, but emptying out the murkying ‘bathwater’. But the later revisionists (including once key ‘Glasgow’ ones), and perhaps Vern himself, have now upended the whole thing in search of their much vaunted ‘New’.
The revised model that I favour, with its roots deep in the early efforts, but greatly modifying these, can, I believe, produce fully-rounded historico-biblical characters by comparison with some of the rather ghost-like versions of same as presented in the ‘New’ chronologies.