The Flood

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Sun Oct 1 22:47:48 EDT 2000

Dear Rolf,

You wrote:
>[..] I do not
>generally dispute the Assyrian king lists; I would just like to point out
>that the last years of the Assyrian empire is not fully understood. 

Agreed, but will that change much? We have Babylonian records which will
provide support for Assyrian chronology of the period, but is it necessary
when we are dealing with a few years only, and there is still a lot of
records lying around under various museums which still haven't been
touched. (We know relatively little about the Kassite period but there are
in fact numerous records. It's just that no-one has done the necessary
footwork to get control of the material. Many sites in Mesopotamia have
hardly had their surfaces scratched! Even Ashur was excavated through a
series of vastly long trenches, leaving much of the city untouched.)

>The Ada Guppi stela, for instance, cannot be perfectly harmonized with the
>Assyrian chronology about Assurbannipal (the discrepancy is at least two
>years), and there are other original tablets which cannot be harmonized
>with the traditional chronology. This is very problematic because an
>astronomical diary *must* be correct in everything; it cannot even bear a
>one year's error.

I don't worry too much about a year here and a year there. Fine details
don't seem to me to be too necessary in a reconstruction of over two
thousand years of history.

>These details, however, are not my concern here; what is in my mind, is the
>general picture. 
>In the Cambridge Ancient History I:2 there are
>chronological tables from page 994. The first Egyptian dynasty is dated to
>c. 3100 BCE and the Sumerian period is dated to 2700. Is it not strange
>that there are no accounts of human cultures before these dates? 

No, I don't think so at all. What we have are the first writings of the
kind which provide what can be considered historico-political information.
Writing was not used for such a reason before that time. The emergence of
writing it would seem was for mercantile purposes, keeping records of stock
and transactions. After a long development from accounting symbols a more
universal system emerged, able to be used for other purposes, but the
generalisation of the system into those other areas didn't happen
overnight. If you look through the numerous tablets from Ebla, you'll find
mostly movement of goods and animals, but you'll also find some hymns, a
few treaties, but beside these latter very little that is the meat of
history -- and that was down to Sargon's time.

>(The age
>of a few isolated finds of habitation are highly questionable.) 

I don't know why you think that there are only "a few isolated finds of

>Your post
>represents the best outline that is possible to give of traditional
>chronology, yet it is full of conjecture. 

Where is all this conjecture? I can't see any back to the time of Utu-khegal.

>This is of course necessary when
>one wants to parallelize kings in different nations, and definite
>astronomical dates are not available.
>Even though your dates go beyond 2400 BCE, and the dates of the Cambridge
>Ancient History go further back, still the oldest date of human culture is
>not more than 700 years beyond 2.400 BCE. Keeping in mind how uncertain
>dating is, particularly in the third millennium BCE, the dates of the
>Cambridge Ancient History corroborates the 2.400 BCE date of the Bible
>rather than contradicting it. I suppose that no chronologer who has
>wrestled with ambiguous data would deny the possibility that a real old
>chronological scheme is 23 % off the track. 

Such an error figure is unacceptably high, even taking worst case scenarios
*at every turn*, from the evidence I have seen. The best you can see in the
Assyrian record is a year here and a year there -- perhaps 3 years in 500.

>This is all we need to reduce
>Egyptian history by 700 years (from 3100 to 2400). In my view it is highly
>remarkable that human culture suddenly apears on the scene 3.100 BCE or 700
>years earlier. This accords better with the Biblical information than with
>the traditional evolutionary scheme.

But reducing the historical phase of cultural development won't change the
fact that there are series and series of cultural artifacts that take us
back further. Underneath all Sumerian level sites there is a stratum of
Ubaid style pottery, the spread of which can be seen going from south to
north eventually displacing Halaf artifacts in the north. There is nothing
scarce about Ubaid ware. The only problem we have is that we have no
records of the period because there was no writing. Before the Halaf
artifacts and architecture there was an earlier style known as Hassuna. So,
if one were to introduce a worst case scenario for the datings (I can see
no grounds for doing so), we would still have many generations of
continuous culture prior to that period (scholarly analyses date the
lengths for these cultures to several hundreds of years).

>What I have tried to do in this thread, is to plead our ignorance. 

Rolf, I don't think you can plead ignorance for everyone. There is a vast
body of data available to be consulted. I see no reason for anyone to doubt
the continuous cultural development many hundreds of years prior to 2400
BCE. If you really would like to plead ignorance, it might be worthwhile
looking at all the information actually on record. (I'm not trying to be
facetious, but I think the weight of evidence is available and should be
looked at, though I know it's not that easy to get at.)

>the Biblical information about a worldwide flood is categorically rejected
>by most researchers, this is not done on the basis of data, but rather on
>the basis of the paradigm to which most are subscribing. 

The Mesopotamian historical record takes us back prior to the time period
alleged for the universal flood. The Egyptians whose literate culture you
have seen goes back before the time of the flood had no story of a
dangerous flood, and their culture goes back far into pre-history as
indicated by the pre-dynastic culture of the land.

>Because clear
>astronomical data are lacking in the third millennium BCE and historical
>information is scarce, 

While the astronomical data is almost non-existent, you can't claim that
the historical data is so scarce as not to be able to construct general
historical developments in either Mesopotamia or Egypt.

>there are no data that really contradict the
>Biblical information about the flood, 

Now, as you will understand, I think this statement is simply unfounded. We
have historical records that can be dated through continuous records (with
few exceptions) from before the time ascribed to the flood.

>but the young age of human culture
>and the fact that the surface of the earth is very young, accords with the

I don't know how you can conclude that the surface of the earth is very
young. If you reject "scientific" analyses of palaeontology, geology, and
physics, on what grounds that we all can accept can you make such a claim?



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list