Why Gunnar Heinsohn Does Not Understand Stratigraphy

Stratigraphy is very important for understanding the history of Earth, from its beginning to the present. However, elementary mistakes can be made by those who have no training in its field. Let us then write the rules of stratigraphy, which Gunnar Heinsohn clearly does not understand.

1. Rates of stratigraphic deposition are not constant, and may be reversed. A corollary of this rule is that stratigraphic gaps do not necessarily indicate a gap in sediment deposition, though, in archaeology, a lack of artifacts does indicate a lack of occupation. Another corollary of this rule that gaps in sediment accumulation can occur.  For example, Tell el-Hesi (the first tell excavated in Palestine) only gained four feet of sediment between c. 300 BC and 1891. Roughly the same amount of ash and lime was deposited within two hundred years (between the Amarna era and that of Ramesses III). Some billion years are missing from the exposed strata in the Grand Canyon. At Jericho, the Early Bronze strata are the first ones found on top of the tell, even though settlement continued on and off into the Persian period. Sediment deposition rates may depend on environment, construction, stratigraphic composition, and climate.

2. Dateable remains (such as pottery, fossils, and other objects) within strata often date them better than anything else. These remains are either dated by the historical dates of strata (these can sometimes be determined by coins, scarabs, foreign pottery, cuneiform tablets, ect.).

3. The exception to Rule 2 is that contexts must be secure; for example, an MB Cuneiform tablet was found at Hazor in an Iron Age room, and, even more prominently, the fact the largest portion of lmlk impressions at Lachish, originating from stratum III, destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 BC, have been found on the surface, and some have been found in the Perso-Hellenistic (I) and the Iron IIC (II) stratum.

4. Physical dating methods are to be used only when historical dating cannot establish an absolute date and when contexts are certain.

For more criticism of Gunnar Heisohn’s bullshit, see the “Jerusalem” and “Chronology” pages of this blog. Also, see the previous post.

The Ultimate Conflater

Gunnar Heinsohn is a man who believes the Indus civilization, the Achaemenid Empire, the Babylonian Empire, and the Assyrian Empire were all the same thing. All by argument from artificial silence. Needless to say, everything original Heisohn has said in regards to ancient and prehistoric history is pure horseshit, so easily refutable as to require only a brief glance at my “Chronology” page and a little common sense to understand why it is so. Some of these arguments are based on outright lies (“ Nobody understands how this brilliant people, which blossomed between the time of Ninos (-750) and Alexander the Great (-330), which became the teacher of nations but left no deity, text, brick or even potsherd.“, “Mainstream scholars are in the process of deleting Ancient Israel from history books. The entire period from Abraham the Patriarch in the -21st century (fundamentalist date) to the flowering of the Divided Kingdom in the -9th century (fundamentalist date) is found missing in the archaeological record. The period from the -9th to the -6th century (fundamentalist dates) is bewildering, for a different reason. The corresponding strata are found immediately below Hellenism of -300. Moreover, there are no windblown layers between Hellenistic strata of -300 and Israel/Judah strata of 700/-600, and the material culture (architecture, artifacts, ceramics etc. ) between -600 and -300 is clearly continuous. From an unbiased stratigraphical point of view, therefore, what now is fundamentalistically dated -900 to -600 requires a hard evidence chronology of -600 to -300. Yet, if the strata now dated – 900 to -600 in biblical years are changed to -600 to -300 in evidence based years, Israel’s entire biblical history from -2100 to -600 is lost. Statements like “historical Israel remained as elusive as ever”, therefore, dominate the most ‘advanced’ level of Bible research (T. L. Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People, Leiden, 1992, p. 27).“), but all on such utter face-palming, unfathomable idiocy that it destroys almost totally the need for the satirist and the comedian (curiously enough, Heinsohn is ingenious when it comes to modern-day demographics). Since such idiocy would only be predicted in their works, but it is clear, indeed, certain, that all ideas which could ever be held by the mind of man have or will be so.

Thus, I shall propose the next set of ideas which will be held by someone, probably within the next century, and probably by one who is either a Gene Ray-style crank (poor reading comprehension, good physical observation skills), someone like Velikovsky (good reading comprehension, awful physical observation skills), or, as in Heisohn’s case, someone who sets arbitrary standards and fulfills them with equally arbitrary conclusions.

Firstly, the world wars shall be combined, since having two massive-scale European wars only thirty years apart is simply implausible. The Soviet Union and China may be imagined as one (both Communist, both too large for their own good) with a different ethnic composition. Lincoln and Kennedy are, by any reasonable standard, alter-egos for each other, and Andrew Johnson would be a crude caricature of Lyndon, with all Andrew Johnson’s achievements being ascribed to Andrew Jackson, with James Polk being declared a general under his presidency. Thomas Jefferson’s presidency would be eliminated from history, he clearly being a noble, and Madison being Secretary of State throughout his career, the War of 1812 being assigned to John Adams, Quincy’s term being the same as Buchanan’s coming right before Lincoln/Kennedy’s. George Washington would be considered a symbol of American Democracy during its founding period, loosely based on a general of the same name. As for the late 20th century presidents; they could easily be linked to the equally unimpressive late 19th century presidents, Nixon being correlated with Grant, Ford with Rutherford, Carter with Arthur, Cleveland with Regan, Harrison with the elder Bush, and Clinton being McKinley combined with shades of Cleveland by Republican scribes. Roosevelt and Bush W. would become clear alter-egos for the same man, and Obama might be correlated with Taft.

Hell, I’m even beginning to think I’m right about somebody accepting this idea as fact!

Shoshenq I’s Purposes for His Campaign(s)

Several months ago, I proposed that the purposes of Shoshenq’s Palestinian campaign(s) were to take over strategic settlements on trade routes and turn them into fortresses for their use as tax-collection centers for the kings ruling these fortresses and, of course, his kingdom. I find this option unlikely, since Palestine could not, by Shoshenq’s time have an established statehood to build fortresses. However, Shoshenq could set up a framework for such an activity, which would certainly not mature in his time.

To help us find out the purposes of Shoshenq’s campaign, we must first know the areas which his campaign visited. There were four main areas to which Shoshenq I campaigned:

1. The Tulkarm-Megiddo-Taanach-Rehob-Hapharaim crescent. (#s 14-18, 27-38)

2. Benjamin (#s 23-26, 57)

3. The Jabbok area and Tirzah  (#s 22, 53-6, 59)

4. The Negev and North Sinai (#s 66-150)

The archaeological evidence shows clearly that Benjamin (Gibeon, et-Tell, and some single period sites) was severely negatively affected by this campaign, Gibeon being desolated. This was probably also so for the Jabbok area, and was likely due to the destruction of a rebellious Saulide polity. Tirzah should probably be excluded from this punitive action, since it was likely a tribute-paying city-state, no part of Samaria proper besides Tirzah being mentioned throughout the list.

The Jezreel Valley and the Negev, meanwhile, show not a single sign of discontinuity. The reason for the fact the Negev is mentioned in the list is clear: The chiefdom of Tel Masos, functioning by producing copper from Khirbet en-Nahas, Punon, and places even farther beyond, by way of the Mampsis road, was a polity any aspiring Egyptian ruler would control and protect. However, why was the Jezreel Valley and the cities of the Aruna road campaigned to (and it was campaigned to-a stele fragment of Shoshenq’s was found at Megiddo). The reasons for a campaign to the Jezreel Valley, whose Canaanite city-states were already broken in the early-to-mid 10th century, possibly by the Saulide polity, possibly by groups of Israelite chiefdoms, are obscure, at best. Perhaps it was for the putting down of a revolt of these regions from an Egyptian-friendly Hill-Country polity, perhaps it was a commemoration of the accomplishments of Shoshenq’s predecessors. We will, perhaps, never know the true reason for the Jezreel campaign.

Were Wadis Rivers in the Early Bronze?

According to a 1989 report (and an earlier one) on Tell el-Hesi, the bricks of that time period showed evidence of a wetter climate, with perhaps the Wadi Hesi flowing year-round. While this is somewhat unlikely, the Dead Sea being only slightly higher in the EB than it was c. 1890, it is plausible that wadis, being less silted up, might have had more water flowing through them in earlier periods, the coastline having more wadi mouths than would be possible today (Tell Abu Hawam, anyone?).

How Severe was the 8th Century Domination of Judah by Israel?

According to 2 Kings 14, after the battle of Beth-Shemesh, Joash took Amaziah’s land as far as Jerusalem, broke down a large part of the N. wall of the Temple Mount, and took great amounts of loot. But, how far-reaching was the effect of this defeat? The Israelite site of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, located at 30°11’35″N, 34°25’16″E, dating to the Israelite Iron IIB (8th C BC), sheds some significant light on this question, showing the Israelites dominated Judah enough to establish a small settlement deep to the south of its territories. If this is so, Israel dominated Juah enough to use its roads for its purposes without any interference, and, therefore, was certainly powerful enough to control all affairs of Judah.

Canaanites=Assyrian Deportees?

According to Judges 1:27-29, Beth-Shean, Ibleam, Dor, Taanach, Megiddo, and Gezer were inhabited by Canaanites. This instantly caused me to remember the Assyrian administrative centers of Megiddo and Gezer, since Gezer was not particularly Canaanite under the Israelite kings. Dor, of course, was Phoenician. Beth-Shean, however, poses a problem, since it was very sparsely inhabited in the Assyrian era. The others are ambiguous. The list might, therefore, refer to the era of the Israelite kings or the Assyrian era, or might be a combination of the two, but is very unlikely to date to the Assyrian era alone. However, Gezer still remains to me a curious reminder that at least some “Canaanites” of the Deut. Hist. could be Assyrian deportees.

The Solomonic Districts

The districts of Solomon are twelve administrative (taxation) districts mentioned in 1 Kings 4, clearly reflecting the Iron IIB Israelite administrative districts (see Chronology page).

Here are the districts:

1-Ephraim, including the land of Shechem, probably as far as Gilboa.

2-Area ruled first by Israel, then Judah, then Ekron, stretching roughly from Ajalon to Beth-Shemesh, and perhaps as far as District 4 (though District 3 might have controlled this land). This shows this list must reflect Iron IIB (Joashite/Jeroboamite) Israelite rule, since Beth-Shemesh was not re-founded after Iron I until the early 8th C BC. Since Beth-Shean was given to Ekron soon after the campaign of Sennacherib, this list cannot reflect the days of Assyrian dominance.

3-Roughly from Jenin to Tul-Karm, and, probably, the Sharon. Arruboth is modern Araba. This is the best agricultural land in the land of Samaria.

4-If Dor was a Phoenician city-state, then this province would only include the foothills of Carmel.

5-The Jezreel and Beth-Shean valleys. The probable district capital was Megiddo, which was extremely well-fortified at this time.

6-Transjordan north of the road leading by Pella to Ramoth-Gilead.

7-Transjordan south of the road leading by Pella to Ramoth-Gilead.

8-Galilee, probably as far as Dan.

9-The land bordering Phoenicia.

10-The plateau north of the Beth-Shean valley.

11-Benjamin. This was either ruled from Bethel or Mizpah (if Israel took it during the conquest of Beth-Shemesh).

12-Ashtaroth and its land, which is that around the Yarmuk. This was conquered by Israel either by Joash or, more probably, Jeroboam II.

Samaria was near the border of districts 1 and 3. District 2 was likely captured during the Battle of Beth-Shemesh (2 Kings 14) in which Israel established a decisive victory over Judah and annexed it as a vassal state. Zebulun (Lower Galilee) was annexed to either District 8 or 9, probably the latter (cf. Tiglath-Pileser campaign). Needless to say, Israel was a kingdom, not a coalition of tribes, and had no function for an independent Zebulun, although Benjamin might have, if Judah controlled Mizpah, been put in a separate district for tribal, rather than geographic reasons. The districts’ borders were also clearly established on the basis of ease of control rather than equality in economic output, for Galilee and Issachar were clearly distinct in their economic output.

Rehoboam’s Cities

According to 2 Chronicles 11, Rehoboam built cities for the defense of Judah in this order (sites fully published and properly excavated in bold, not fully published or improperly excavated in italics):

Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-Zur

Socoh, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah,

Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Ajalon,

and Hebron.

Now, clearly, these fortresses do not date to Rehoboam’s time, since Beth-Zur was not occupied in Iron IIa. Nadav Na’aman has correlated the list with Hezekiah’s reign (based on lmlk impression distribution), Finkelstein, John Hyrcanus. It is known Mareshah was fortified in Hyrcanus’s time, and was an important site in Hezekiah’s. The same goes for Beth-Zur. Lachish, meanwhile, was barely inhabited in the days of Hyrcanus. By the order of the list, Gath is most likely Tel Goded, which had fortunes similar to those of Mareshah. Adoraim, however, is only mentioned in Hasmonean-era texts.

It seems the list dates from a combination of periods; the Chronicler might have used three or two seperate lists, or, more likely, he merely added Lachish to Azekah (or, possibly, both Lachish and Azekah) to explain the fact both were fortified cities in Jeremiah 34:7, and the Primary History did not ascribe any king to its (or their) fortification. Since Solomon would, in the Hasmonean interpolator’s eyes, be unlikely to fortify cities in Judah, the Chronicler merely ascribed this list to the next king in line.