Rohl conjectures (long)

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Wed Sep 29 13:15:15 EDT 1999

Dear Ian,

We need to respect Bill Rea's objection not to take this too far from 
Hebrew. So I won't try to argue on the Assyrian etc correspondences. 
Rohl is obviously aware that this part of his argument is weak because 
he is not an expert here. So I make points here mainly on the 
Palestinian stuff which has clear links to the Hebrew Bible.

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Rohl conjectures  (long)
Author:  <mc2499 at> at Internet
Date:    28/09/1999 23:36


>Think about it. You want to pit some popular work aimed specifically at 
>selling to a religious readership, ie in no sense facing a critical peer 
>analysis, that shows no interest in the physical culture of the nations 
>whose centuries are to be cancelled.
>PK: I am not trying to pit Rohl's work against anything.

You should. You accept his conjectures, yet you haven't pitted his work 
against anything. This means that you take his work on belief.

PK: No, I do not accept his conjectures. Rather I hold the position 
that his hypotheses should be given proper consideration by scholars.

>I am merely
>asking that its arguments be given the consideration that they deserve 
>rather than ridiculed without being read.

What do they deserve when the writer has not faced his peers?

PK: I'm not sure how he should "face his peers" more than he has done. 
He has written many articles in journals as well as his books. He has 
had lengthy discussions with Prof Kitchen. He has prepared a PhD 
thesis for the University of London, or at least he says in his book 
that is about to submit it. He has faced his peers. If his peers have 
then turned away from facing him (as you seem to have), that is their 


>PK: I have proposed to you a whole book full of evidence (plus lots of 
>other articles referred to). And you refuse to read it! On the other 
>hand I am quite happy to read the books you suggest, time and money 

I am not happy to read just any wafty tome of conjectures. Therefore I was 
after some hard facts, before considering it.

PK: How do you know the contents of a book you have not read? I accept 
that part of it is rather conjectural, but other parts are full of 
hard facts, as hard as the granite of Egypt they are carved into.


..However, I would expect a writer who is dealing with an earthshaking, 
iconoclastic discovery to have done a hellovalot more leg-work to 
substantiate his chronological claims than what could be squeezed into a 

PK: Rohl refers to eight of his own other publications which give more 
detail of his own legwork. But anyway, why is it necessary for a 
theoretician to have done his own primary legwork? Is Stephen 
Hawking's work on cosmology etc less valid because he has not 
personally made the astronomical or particle physics observations on 
which his work depends? Why should archaeology be different?

>Would you read the Jesus in India books?... 
>PK: Maybe not, but I would not dare to comment on them unless I had 
>done so.

You should be able to comment on the status quo situation though. Given 
what we have from the standard texts, Jesus clearly died and there was no 
possibility that he was taken down alive, so under the circumstances 
anything that claims that Jesus survived the cross is dead in the water.

PK: I agree with you on that point. On the other hand, I believe that 
Jesus rose again from the dead (sorry, not relevant to this list!). I 
don't think he then went to India but I would not dismiss the idea a 

I also think a Velikovskian position is dead in the water, no matter who 
proposes it. It would take a large effort to resurrect ages in chaos -- 
Egyptology has come a long way since Velikovsky put forward his conjecture. 
(Rohl seems to be using the same basic arguments.)

PK: Rohl makes it clear that he rejects very many of Velikovsky's 
arguments, while accepting a few of them.


Thanks for the summary. I know what the archaeologists would think of this: 
how on earth can one take the biblical accounts literally and use them as 
historical documents to show that all the others are wrong. This is: the 
biblical documents say they are wrong; how do you know? because I believe 
the biblical documents are right.

In her book "Archaeology in the Holy Land", Benn, 1960/79, Kenyon records a 
number of interesting finds regarding late bronze in Palestine, some of 
these are from pottery sequences from Mycenae, items from Megiddo, Hazor, 
Tell Beit Mirsim classified as Mycenaean IIIA (c.1400), IIIAb & IIIB. 
Naturally all the sites share the same basic range of local pottery with 
Jericho. Now, in a collection of ivories from a palace at Tell Beit Mirsim 
an object with the cartouche of Ramses III was found. In the LB stratum at 
Beth-Shan (an Egyptian stronghold in Palestine which didn't suffer a LB 
destruction) a statue of Ramses III was found. Kenyon would make the Ramses 
III objects at the late end of LBII.

The archaeological remains from the Palestine coast that is attributed to 
the Philistines is clearly non-local, ie cannot be Canaanite, "it has been 
shown that the closest parallels are in the pottery of Rhodes and Cyprus, 
but in almost no case are the Palestinian vessels exact copies... The 
originals from which the Palestinian types developed can be dated to the 
late 13th century B.C., while new fashions which were coming into use about 
1200 B.C. are not represented... The ware of the vessels does not differ 
from that of the native Palestinian pots. The conclusion which is thus 
suggested is that the newcomers did not bring the pottery with them, but 
manufactured it in Palestine in imitation of the vessels to which they were 
accustomed in their homeland."

Kenyon knows the full range of pottery sequences from Palestine and is 
therefore able to know where ceramics fit into a relative chronology, but 
then also where they fit in other relative chronologies. In this process 
one can build up a datable chronology based not on historical accounts, but 
on diachronic archaeological evidence. She knows that the Philistine 
pottery can be compared with early Iron Age Palestinian pottery. Have you 
ever wondered how sites certain Palestinian sites are dated to the tenth 
century or the eighth? There are sites that have had very long continuous 
use, such as Tell Beit Mirsim (excavated by Albright), that display the 
fullest ranges of pottery sequences. These sequences can be compared with 
others from more distant sites and movement of ceramics can be plotted and 
compared with those in other cultures. Strong sequencing is guaranteed. 
Destruction levels can therefore be related to both pottery and historical 
documents. This physical evidence is very hard to argue against. One might 
hope to juggle kinglists, but how does one hide the three hundred years of 
pottery sequence?

Kenyon's book, though dated and bearing her religious comments, is well 
worth getting hold of.

PK: Thank you for this. I think Rohl's solution to the problem would 
have to be to divorce the Biblical Philistines from Kenyon's 
Philistines, making the latter 9th century (?) invaders (yes, the Sea 
Peoples). The Biblical Philistines he identifies with the 
Indo-European rulers of the coastal cities in the Amarna period e.g. 
Shuwardata of Gath (identified with David's ally Akish), Widia of 

>PK: As I said, Rohl gives an extensive bibliography and refers to 
>several other scholars who support parts of his theory e.g. John 
>Bimson re Jericho.

Peer group publication usually means, for an Egyptologist, publication in 
an Egyptological journal so that one's peers can criticise the work. As I 
understand it, Rohl has avoided this normal process, which would mean to me 
that he doesn't think he can argue the point seriously. If the link you 
posted ( represents 
Kitchen's reaction to Rohl, then one has to think that Rohl is fraudulent 
and knowingly avoiding his responsibilities.

PK: No, I think the TV producers played their usual tricks. The link 
you posted gives Rohl's brief answers to the points which Kitchen 



There's a site that's supposed to be in England -- ? I 
can't get it, but there was supposed to be some exchange between Kitchen 
and Rohl there.

PK: Thanks, I'll try to find this.

Peter Kirk

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