A Criticism of Down’s Ch. 26

I hereby do criticize David Down’s 26th Chapter of his “Unwrapping the Pharaohs” (a brief, mostly basic review of the Pharonic period to the New Kingdom, which, sadly, accepts some Neo-Velikovskyan identifications do to the necessity of squeezing chronology for YEC‘s).

First of all, all significant chronological revision is untenable. Anomalies are outweighed by the evidence. I therefore am somewhat in a superior position: let us begin!

As far as chronology is concerned, the Third Intermediate Period is the villain of the piece. On the assumption that Dynasties 21 to 25 were consecutive, early scholars dated them approximately 1070–665 B.C., but a number of recent scholars have challenged this assumption. Although Manetho seems to regard Dynasties 21 to 25 as successive, most scholars now acknowledge that Dynasties 22 and 23 are contemporary with each other, and Dynasties 24 and 26 are contemporary with Dynasty 25. Revisionists claim that Dynasties 21 and 22 should also be regarded as contemporary with other dynasties. This would reduce Egyptian dates by some 250 years.

My answer here is: so what! The fact a proper TIP chronology has already been established does not mean we need to scrap it! These Revisionists have no good evidence for their hypotheses and plenty against them.

“That such a drastic revision is feasible is bluntly stated by Dr. Colin Renfrew of Cambridge University in his foreword to the book by Peter James, Centuries of Darkness. He wrote,

“This disquieting book draws attention, in a penetrating and original way, to a crucial period in world history, and to the very shaky nature of the dating, the whole chronological framework, upon which our current interpretations rest. . . . The revolutionary suggestion is made here that the existing chronologies for that crucial phase in human history are in error by several centuries, and that, in consequence, history will have to be rewritten. . . . I feel that their critical analysis is right, and that a chronological revolution is on its way.”1

James put it bluntly when he said,

“Over the last century chronology has provided the focus of some of the most protracted and troublesome debates in a wide variety of fields, from European prehistory to biblical archaeology. All these can now be seen as the product of a common cause—a misplaced faith in the immutability of the established framework. The resulting Dark Ages and all their ramifications really amount to a gigantic academic blunder.”2

“Prima facie, the theory of Sothic dating may look watertight. Closer examination, however, reveals a web of interlocking assumptions, each of which requires intensive re-examination. . . . There are good reasons for rejecting the whole concept of Sothic dating as it was applied by the earlier Egyptologists.”3“The case for accepting the astronomical dates for Egyptian history is now so riddled with doubts that the whole structure can be seen to be creaking at the seams.”

Unfortunately, James does not represent mainstream scholarship. Sothic dating is alive and well, and not showing any signs of collapsing. Anyhow, it matters not what any scholar says. Many Nobel laureates have fallen from grace. It only matters whether or not their conclusions are correct.

“David Rohl, in his book Test of Time, wrote,

“Egyptologists have constructed a dating framework for the Third Intermediate Period which is artificially overextended. . . . More recent research has led to the belief that fundamental mistakes in the currently accepted chronology were made in the formative years of ancient world studies. This book will demonstrate that all is not well with the conventional chronology.”5

Shoshenq is usually identified with the Shishak of the Bible, who looted the treasures from the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem (1 Kings 14:25). Inside each figure is the name of a city, but Jerusalem is not there. Shoshenq should be allotted a much later date.

Much has been made of the supposed synchronism between Shoshenq, founder of the 22nd Dynasty, and the Shishak of the Bible (1 Kings 14:25). The names were somewhat similar, and although scholars could not be sure of his date, they speculated that it fitted and assigned it to the time of the Shishak of the Bible. However, even if they are contemporary, this may be nothing more than a fortuitous coincidence, but there is also the problem of the names. They might sound approximately the same in English, but they are far apart in the original languages.”

Absolute nonsense, all of it. As Kenneth Kitchen, one of the finest orientalists in the world, says, “This word (Shishak or Shushak (marginal spelling)) corresponds very precisely with the name spelled in Egyptian inscriptions as Sh-sh-n-q or Sh-sh-q“. Sisa and Shishak, meanwhile, are quite a bit different (W. Semitic distinguishes between sameks and shins, see Rameses).

In Chronology & Catastrophism Review, Volume VIII, John Bimson wrote,

“It is therefore impossible to prove that the names are the same, and there remains an equally strong (perhaps stronger) possibility that they are not.”6

He concludes by saying,

“The identification of the two kings is by no means certain, and it cannot be held to stand in the way of the drastic revision of TIP chronology as proposed by Rohl and James. Indeed, to argue that the equation Shoshenq = Shishak proves the correctness of the current chronology would be to indulge in a circular argument, since the chronology has, in its accepted form, been constructed on the basis of the identification.”7

So far as I’m concerned, the Bimson camp has stayed away from alternative chronologies for the past decade or two to cluster under the safe tent of Bryant Wood. While Shoshenq=Shishak is one of the bases of the conventional chronology, it is hardly the only one (see above links).

It was Champollion who first read the name “Shoshonq” on the inscription on the south wall of the temple of Karnak and suggested that he was the Shishak of the Bible, but there are serious doubts about the authenticity of Shoshenq’s inscription. Shoshenq does not relate that he invaded Israel or that he conquered Jerusalem. He simply writes a list of cities that he is presenting to the god Amun, and Jerusalem is not among them. Most scholars regard Dynasty 22 as of Libyan origin, but some claim that he was an Assyrian prince. This was during the period when Assyria made incursions into Egypt.

No, it was not. Shoshenq chooses to portray his empire as expansive instead of rich because he wanted to portray himself as a new Ahmose, not a new Thutmose III. To question the authenticity of Shoshenq’s inscription is to ignore a fragment of a stele with his cartouche found at Megiddo. Jerusalem is either lost or not listed due to the fact it was not captured by force. The “some” who claim he was an Assyrian prince ignore the fact Assyrians did not allow their subjects to establish powerful militaries.

If Shoshenq had conquered Jerusalem and taken all the fabulous treasures out of the temple there, he would certainly have made a big deal of it. Some have pointed out that some of the inscription has been damaged and perhaps Jerusalem was mentioned among the damaged section, but Jerusalem would have been the prize and would have been mentioned at the beginning of the inscription, which is still intact.

Again, expanse vs. expense-and besides, the store cities Solomon built (1 Kings 9:15) were probably just as rich as Jerusalem due to their strategic locations as important trade centers.

Shoshenq’s relief should not be regarded as historical. The Mittani are included in the list but they had ceased to exist 400 years earlier.

Actually, the list is probably just a copy of another king’s list.

Absolute bullshit. This is the stuff Wellhausen said over one hundred years ago. As Kitchen says, “When faced with the clear reality of the place-name list of Shoshenq I as a contributing factor to our understanding of the Shishak episode in the reign of Rehoboam, then, like a true minimalist, Wellhausen refused to accept plain-as pikestaff evidence…Taken the 155 known ovals and discounting ten introductory heraldic entries, a series of twenty-five or thirty known to be wholly lost…, we are left with a hard core of usable names. Of these, only nine are common to Shishak and previous lists…The other ninety-eight are unique to Shishak’s list. Let that fact sink in.” (emphasis in original).

James Pritchard, in his book The Ancient Near East, Volume 1, states,

“How unhistorical his large claims were is clear from a statement to the pharaoh by the god Amon: ‘I have subjugated (for) thee the Asiatics of the armies of Mitanni.’ Mittani as a nation had ceased to exist at least four centuries earlier.”8

Shoshenq simply did not know Mittani’s location-it had long been forgotten. Since it was mentioned by other kings as an Asiatic land, he simply put it in Canaan.

The TIP is often referred to as “the dark ages” of Egyptian history, simply because we are in the dark as to what really happened. We have far less information from Egyptian sources about this period of time than we do about much earlier periods, and the reason is that they did not exist as separate dynasties. Egypt is a long narrow country spread out along the 621 miles (1,000 km) of the Nile Valley, and there was not always a strong ruler who could unite Upper and Lower Egypt, so there were times when one ruler would be over one part of the country while another ruled elsewhere.

Shoshenq I united both Upper and Lower Egypt-he was a Bubastite king who made a relief at Karnak.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

3 thoughts on “A Criticism of Down’s Ch. 26”

  1. Hmm. Some of your links detailing supposed TIP revisions now read “Keep an eye on your girlfriend with Whatsapp Hacker 2019” in Dutch.

    Linkrot and the dubious misinterpretations of scholars in centuries to come aside, I’m sure that poor synchronisms constituting a sure sign of infidelity will be held as truth for as long as love doth bloom.

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