[b-hebrew] Rohl's Chronology & Arguments from Silence

Walter R. Mattfeld mattfeld12 at charter.net
Tue Aug 17 13:24:26 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

For purposes of discussion :

"Chronological Tables" (p. 340. Vol. 1. Michael Avi-Yonah. Editor.
_Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations of the Holy Land_. Oxford
University Press. 1975

Middle Bronze IIA ca. 2000-1750 BCE

Middle Bronze IIB ca.1750-1550 BCE

Second Intermediate Period, Hyksos & 13th -17th Dynasties ca. 1786-1567 BCE.


Rohl dates Dudimose of the 13th Dynasty as ca. 1450 BCE and associates him
with the pharaoh of the Exodus of 1447 BCE. In the "Conventional Chronology"
(above), Dudimose falls in the period 1786-1567 BCE or Middle Bronze Age II.

According to Kenyon, Jericho fell to the Egyptians on the heels of the
Hyksos expulsion ca. 1550 BCE, so Jericho's destruction would end the Middle
Bronze II city in the "Conventional Chonology." She did note a "heavy
tilting" in area H of a portion of wall indicating possible earthquake
activity and the site was severely torched (p. 736. Vol. 3. T.A. Holland.
"Jericho." David Noel Freedman. Editor. _The Anchor Bible Dictionary_. New
York. Doubleday. 1992).

So, could Joshua's fallen walls be Middle Bronze II ? Maybe ? A tilted wall
is a "possible" indicator for a fallen wall. But, she does not speak of the
walls of the MBII city as actually having fallen. Why ? Most of the MBII
wall is ERODED away. There isn't evidence of a _clearly_ collapsed wall like
the Early Bronze Age walls. Only the Early Bronze walls are so described,
their collapsed structures being preserved from erosion by the defensive
ditch or Glacis built over them for the MBII city.

Conclusions ? We have two fallen and preserved Early Bronze Age walls and a
nearly completely eroded away Middle Bronze II wall, with a portion in area
H possessing a tilt. No other wall is known for the Late Bronze or Iron Age.
Could they have existed and were totally eroded away ? Maybe ?

To convince Egyptologists he is correct in dating the 13th Dynasty to ca.
1450 BCE instead of ca. 1786-1567 BCE, Rohl has to "re-align" all the other
Dynasties which follow, "downwards." If Saul is Labayu, according to Rohl,
who is Late Bronze Age, ca. the 14th century BCE in the Conventional
Chronology, then almost 300 years must be re-aligned downward for Labayu, as
Saul is usually dated ca. 1020 BCE.

As I have already noted in my article "Deconstucting Rohl's Chronology" the
sites associated with Saul's wars with the Philistines have been examined by
surface surveys and found _not_ to have been in existence in the LBA world
of Labayu, the sherds are Iron Age.

This _absence_ of archaeological evidence can, of course, be explained away
by resorting to the following "_arguments from silence_" which I have culled
from "various individuals" over the past 30 years who have _no_
archaeological evidence to back up their proposals :

1. These sites are only surface surveys which can be misleading. They have
not been dug down to bedrock _maybe_ there are LBA sherds of Labayu's world
in lower layers that will upon excavation justify the Rohl proposal.

2. The sites which have been excavated to bedrock, Gibeon and Mizpeh (tell
en-Nasbeh) _maybe_ had their earlier LBA deposits removed and taken elswhere
for dumping when the Iron Age cities were built and thus a false reading
exists of how old these sites really are, justifying the Rohl proposal.

3. _Maybe_ Gibeon and Mizpeh have been misidentified if they have no LBA
structures and the sites are somewhere else.

4. _Maybe_ the dwellers of the sites used earlier pottery forms of earlier
periods and lived in earlier era's houses (Stone age at Mizpeh) instead of
switching over to newer forms and thus they are misdated.

5. _Maybe_ Saul and the Philsitines were tent dwellers and did not use any
pottery, only goatskins for water and so there is no archaeological evidence
for their presence in these locations ?

6. _Maybe_ "all" these Iron Age locations have been misidentified and are
somewhere else.

So, there we have it, a bunch of _maybes_, "arguments from silence," to
explain away the "missing" archaeological evidence for Rohl's proposal that
Saul is a LBA Labyu who has been misdated by a flawed chronology.

Is there anything inherently wrong in using "arguments from silence" as a
methodology ? No, I've seen this methodology employed by BOTH defenders and
detractors of Holy Writ.

For example, in "defense " of Holy Writ I have encountered from various
individuals the following "_arguments from silence_"
rationalizing/explaining away the absence of evidence :

1. There is no LBA evidence of Israel in the Sinai, Arabah or Negev because
they lived in tents which leave no traces, did not use any pottery and drank
water from goatskins.

2. There is no evidence of LBA Israel in the Sinai, Arabah or Negev because
these are areas have not been thoroughly enough explored and must have been

3. There is no evidence of Israel's Exodus in Egyptian records because a.)
The Egyptians did not record defeats; b.) we have only partial records on a
few stones and papyri and the account is therefore in these missing records
if it ever existed.

4. The finding of No LBA at Hesban means it can't be Heshbon, it must be
somewhere else (LBA Jalul ?). Or maybe it was a Tent city which left no

5. The finding of no LBA at Ai (et Tell) must mean the site is somewhere

6. Finally, the Classic "argument from silence": "The absence of evidence is
NOT proof the event did not occur."

I could go on, but one "gets" the picture, _arguments from silence_ are
"common staple" for defenders and detractors of Holy Writ, and apparently
accepted as "legitimate methodology" by _both_ camps, Conservative and

Regards, Walter

Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.

mattfeld12 at charter.net


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