[b-hebrew] Rohl's Chronology Deconstructed

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jul 26 12:36:38 EDT 2004

On 26/07/2004 16:09, Walter R. Mattfeld wrote:

>Marianne wrote :
><For David Rohl to maintain that the Lebayu of
>>the Amarna Letters is none other than Saul is, in my opinion, a ridiculous
>Peter responded:
><I'm not sure of all the grounds on which you consider Rohl's conclusion
>Dear Peter,
>Rohl's identfying King Saul with Labayu, places Saul and the events in his
>life in a Late Bronze Age setting ...


>... (ca. 1560-1200 BCE). ...

No. Rohl redates the Late Bronze Age to several hundred years later.

>... Mainstream
>scholarship understands Labayu to be a contemporary of  Pharaoh Akhenaten ...

Rohl agrees. I am making these points to clarify where the disagreement 
lies because some may misunderstand this.

>... who reigned ca. 1350-1334 BCE according to Clayton (p. 120. Peter Clayton.
>_Chronicles of the Pharaohs_. Thames & Hudson. London. 1994).

Rohl disagrees.

>The biblical chronology suggests for the mainstream scholars that Saul
>reigned ca. 1050-1020 BCE,  _not_ some two hundred years earlier. ...

Rohl agrees with the general period, but gives Saul just a one year 
reign, 1012-1011 BCE.

>... Saul is
>understood by the mainstream to be an Iron Age monarch (ca. 1200-1000 BCE),
>_not_ a Late Bronze Age ruler as maintained by Rohl.

This time you characterise the disagreement correctly.

>If Rohl is correct that Saul is Labayu, then the places mentioned in
>association with Saul's wars against the Philistines (cf. 1 Samuel, chapters
>6-14) "ought" to possess archaeological evidence of being in existence in
>Late Bronze Age times and _not_ the Iron Age (1200-1000).
>My investigations into the archaeological findings on the various towns
>mentioned in the Saul narratives concluded that these towns did _not_ exist
>in the days of Akhenaten and Labayu, they existed ONLY in Iron Age times,
>after the arrival of the Philistines who arrived ca. 1175 BCE as the Pelest
>in the days of Pharaoh Ramesses III who reigned ca. 1182-1151 BCE. Ergo,
>Rohl's "alternate chronology" needs some more "work." For the data cf. the
>below article

In this article you wrote:

> If Rohl is correct about Solomon being a Late Bronze Age king, then we
> should expect to find evidence that ALL of these places, not just SOME of
> these places, existed in Late Bronze Age times of Samuel and Saul.

This does not follow. Some of these places may have been only temporary 
encampments during the Late Bronze age which would have left no lasting 
trace. At some of them the LBA evidence may have been eroded or 
destroyed during work on later periods. And some of the LBA sites may 
not be at the expected places or exactly where the sites from other 
periods are. Argument from silence or absence of evidence is very 
dangerous in archaeology. Furthermore, you admit yourself that only 2 of 
the 544 sites mentioned have been excavated to bedrock.

You also wrote:

> *An extensive Late Bronze Age presence in the tableland of Benjamin, as*
> *suggested by the biblical narratives of Samuel, Saul, David and 
> Solomon is*
> *not supported by the archaeological data. The area is almost devoid 
> of human*
> *settlement in Late Bronze Age times.*

This is an interesting observation. It is possible, but rather unlikely, 
that the area was in fact almost uninhabited, although this would seem 
to conflict with the Amarna Letters evidence of occupation. An 
alternative is that evidence which has been dated as Middle Bronze Age 
or early Iron Age is in fact from the Late Bronze Age. Perhaps this area 
was a cultural backwater which kept Middle Bronze Age material culture 
up to the time of Saul and David, and then leapt straight into Iron Age, 
a little earlier than expected, with the revival under David and 
Solomon. I note that David employed Kerethite and Pelethite mercenaries 
(2 Sam 8:18 etc); these peoples, rather than the biblical Philistines, 
may have been the Sea Peoples who later invaded Egypt under Rameses III, 
and this would explain why their "Iron Age" material culture is found in 
Israel before the time of Rameses III.

You wrote:

> Some viewers may have an interest in observations made by Dr. Bryant 
> Wood (trained in Archaeology), "contra" Rohl's Chronology, noting 
> several "archaeological anomalies."

David Rohl is also trained in archaeology and Egyptology.

By the way, I have found in Rohl's book "From Eden to Exile", p.11, a 
clear statement: "The fact that Shoshenk is dated solely by identifying 
him with Shishak - and therefore entirely through biblical chronology - 
comes as a bit of a shock to [Israeli archaeologists]." So Rohl has 
anticipated Yigal's confusion.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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