Historical Illiteracy Defined


To the ignorant:
1. Sennacherib died long before 657 BC.
2. Drought had little to nothing to do with the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The Empire was doomed by Nabopolassar’s Chaldean revolts in Akkad and an usurper in Nineveh. Nadav Na’aman describes this thoroughly.

3. Crowding was always a feature of Assyrian life; Assyria was a very urbanized country since at least the 9th century BC, and probably long before.

Stay classy, Haaretz.

More Evidence Punt/Eritrea Was Not an Empty Land

Considering the finds from the ancient Egyptian Red Sea port of Saww/Mersa Gawasis and the other evidence relating to Punt, it seems Punt should be identified with the Gash Group (2nd millennium BC) around Mahal Teglinos in Eastern Sudan and Agordat in Eritrea, the Ona culture (early 2nd? Millennium BC-c. 300 BC) around Asmara, and the first and second phases of Adulis, characterized by bag-shaped jars and black-gray burnished ware. It also appears that archaeological evidence for Bia-Punt and ‘Amau has been found in northern Sudan. It was a little to the North and West of where I expected it to be (the Hassai mining area), but it’s still in the ballpark.

A Few Things I Noticed About Grena’s “Evolution Science”

1. It’s interspersed with two (apparently) advertisements for nursing books.
2. There is a very good reason serifed fonts are used in most books.
3. A flying snake logo is on the back cover.
4. The book is filled with falsehoods, of which you can get a taste just by reading the Amazon preview.

5. Grena calls Jefferson’s cut-and-paste job of the Gospels a “Bible”.

Needless to say, I will offer GM Grena a few answers to his questions on page 211:

Why do you think SHENAs fight so vehemently to keep not just Creation versions of history out of secular schools, but to keep non-conforming opinions & Evolution-bias warning labels out of textbooks?

The same reason we fight so vehemently to keep not just germ-theory denialist versions of biology out of secular schools, but to keep non-conforming opinions & Spherical Earth-bias warning labels out of textbooks. We are not relativists.

Why do you think they are so cautious about whom they deign to debate in public forums?

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”.

Did they hibernate or time-travel?

-This is on p. 169. They decomposed. Also, the irony of this is delicious.

Also, Grena clearly shows his lack of understanding of evolution at the bottom of p. 83. Apparently, he cannot conceive that the sexes are not separate species, but evolve simultaneously in populations.

Creationist Funnies

This link will, for those inclined to pursue the necessary work of counter-apologetics, truly make one’s day. Wood is, of course, right on the chronological facts (see my Chronology page), on which Down is completely wrong (if you are not good at spotting non sequiturs, consult the ABR website, Walter Mattfeld’s debunking of the EB Exodus hypothesis, and Wikipedia), and Down is correct regarding his claim there is no solid evidence to support a 15th C BC Exodus. It also seems that ABR is taking my advice regarding its location of Bethel (or just being lazy), placing Bethel to the WNW (instead of SW) of Ai in this post.

My “Bible Unearthed” page has finally been linked to by someone. Also, to those who have not noticed, I have greatly (but slowly) updated the sidebar links. Click on some of them! I link to websites in the sidebar of this blog for a reason.

December 21 was, among other things, the first day this winter in which real snow fell in the region in which I happen to live. I didn’t particularly enjoy it (putting on an actual coat instead of multiple layers of hoodies and sweatshirts is very much annoying), but Christmas, as says popular opinion, is supposed to be white, thus, the snow did have an upside.

I Find A Person Who Believes Some Very Weird Things

While I was working on “The Location of Dilmun, Part 2”, I decided to poke my head into the YouTube comments section of Ancient Aliens Debunked (which is just as filled with conspiracy theories and science-denial as you expect) and found this person, who, not understanding the concept of “prior probability“, believes that the perfectly non-man-made Visocica Hill, which, judging by the below image, taken from this pdf file on a pro-Artificial Bosnian Pyramid Hypothesis website, looks barely anything like a pyramid. For some reason unknown to me, this person believes that the vast majority of relevant scholars are engaging in self-delusion when they point to the fact the pyramid is not shaped like a Great Pyramid of Giza, the tunnels inside it are of disputable origin, the sandstone ‘blocks’ exposed beneath its topsoil are natural, and that there is absolutely no evidence at Visocica of anything resembling the evidence that humans made the most outstanding features of the Giza Necropolis in the 4th Dynasty of Egypt. Hell, the person even tried to make me believe Visocica Hill is more correctly oriented towards True North than the Pyramids of Giza (a claim that can be easily falsified by using eyes and a computer mouse).

A bunch of people have the bile to claim this hill is an artificial pyramid!

To further demonstrate that this hill is not a pyramid, I will be generous and give this person an opportunity to experience software he really needs to download in this fashion:


The person mentioned above also tells me to read the writing of Paul LaViolette (some crank who has proposed Plato’s Atlantis is a literal description of subatomic particles and has claimed that the Hubble Redshift is a result of ‘tired light’) and Laird Scranton (a Velikovskyan). Don’t be afraid to click on any of the links to the cranks-I’m using nofollow. Naturally, LaViolette claims his hypothesis has not become established science due to scholarly inertia, ignoring the fact scholarly inertia can be overcome with a flood of published papers, as Israel Finkelstein has proven, or with a flood of informally published evidence and informal discussion, as GM Grena has shown (partially; hardly anyone has renounced the idea Socoh, MMST, Hebron, and Ziph on most lmlk handles are GNs and barely anyone besides Grena has proposed that lmlk-stamped jars have something to do with government donations worship payments [see comments] to Levites). Publishing a paper once or thrice and calling it a day has never worked at winning anyone many converts to a very significant new idea. I’m confident most physics PhDs could point out the flaws in LaViolette’s argument, but, as I am no physicist, or even student of physics, I cannot do so. I can, however, ridicule Scranton’s Velikovkyan catastrophism, which is all too easy to refute-it’s physically impossible. His claims regarding the Dogon have been debunked here and here.

Let us now move to ridicule one of the above-mentioned person’s WordPress posts.
Interesting. Over two thousand words and no links. One of the most important things I’ve learned regarding blogging over the past few years is that links are extremely important-testis unus testis nullus (a phrase I have often repeated to the person mentioned above, sometimes with typos). Repeating claims exclusively religious and saying “that is not true” is perhaps the best way to show to the general public all claims exclusively religious are untrue-thus, the solid program “Enemies of Reason”. I don’t see anything more authoritarian-sounding in the CSICOP name as compared to CSI-the latter is simply broader and makes it clear to the public that the former “CSICOP” investigates non-‘paranormal’ nonsense. Dawkins has made it clear he is not “certain” he is right about the non-existence of all gods.

Astrology remains elusive, part interpretive art, part science. That apparent contradiction is guaranteed to frustrate scientists, or worse – seriously piss them off.

-If it ain’t falsifiable, it’s probably false (take care to watch the whole program).

. What our educated elders overlook is that whenever we find authority being asserted by self-appointed Inquisitors General for Accepted Truths, it is usually an indication that the dark ages have already arrived.

-If one can’t show the evidence for something important in front of (metaphorically speaking) the scientific community, one probably doesn’t have much of a case. Besides, there are no such self-appointed Inquisitors General that have any real power. Also, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry does “challenge mainstream views of the world”-it challenges the existence of gods, devils, and many other widely accepted religious claims.

They think nothing of committing academic fraud to preserve the established order and according to psychology professor Richard Kammann, are ‘guilty of the very pathological science they were set up to attack.’

-Where, pray tell, have they committed academic fraud, besides a few instances of plagiarism?

certainly ruthlessly efficient in their campaigns to excommunicate, silence and smear heretics

-Because they have the evidence on their side. Besides, it would be a sad, sad world if we skeptics had not been so efficient at excommunicating (from what?), silencing, and smearing ‘heretics’. Homeopathy would be a multi-million dollar business. Peter Popoff would be out and about claiming to be able to heal the physically sick using faith. A religion that claims a dead Jew some two thousand years ago rose from the dead and is currently residing in outer space (or is it in the clouds?) would be believed in by some 3/4 of the citizens of the richest nation in the world. Over a quarter of the citizens of the same nation would believe in ghosts, and nearly a quarter in astrology. What a sad, sad world it would be. What a sad, sad world it is.

Kepler said that looking for scientific proof of astrology was like a hen pecking around in ‘evil smelling dung’ until a ‘good little grain’ was found.

Kepler was right on the money with this analogy. In this part of town, it’s called cherry-picking, or “questionable subgroup analysis“. I’m still not eating anything out of that dung. The Mars Effect was the product of such analysis, and it is a likely false positive (though compare Kamman 1982). If the person mentioned above cannot show evidence for CSICOP’s fraud (except for a few instances that have no bearing on the truth of its claims), let him not claim it. In short, as there is neither a convincing mechanism for any kind astrology to work, and the evidence for it is, as the person mentioned above admits, cherry-picked, it is safe to say that astrology is ridiculous.

Astrology, like music, is the product of space, resonance, frequency and vibration. The solar system is a vibrating, unified whole. It does not influence us – it is us. Astrology is the interpretation of its meaning and every human birth resonates with the harmony and meaning of the celestial moment.

-[citation needed]. Is that turd of a statement even falsifiable? Also, what is this recourse of cranks to ‘vibration’ (a not-so-subtle means to refer to masturbation?) when they cannot provide actual physical data for their beliefs? Yes, we’re all part of the universe. That should be clear. No, you cannot go about claiming the position of Mars influences the birth of anyone.

Wherever there is water, rock and sunlight, there is potential for telluric ground current which can cause a neurological response in the dowser.

[citation needed] A really, really, really big [citation needed]. What can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

It is a phenomenon to do with the natural environment, with landscape, geology, underground aquifers – not plastic bottles of water in boxes set up in a tent. Evidence that human beings are sensitive to these natural effects is found in the location of ancient sites all over the world, which are invariably constructed upon geophysical discontinuities. This was clearly laid out by scientist John Burke in his recent book, ‘Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty’.

-“Eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn’t that ruthlessly profit-focused“. That’s a pretty big problem the cranks have to solve before their crank status can be removed.

However, that only applies to the claimants. In contrast, the debunkers’ standard seems to be that claims held to be ridiculous require only ridiculous standards of disproof.

-Yup. Higher standards of disproof could also be used, but do not necessarily have to be. Also, placing an event in a tent hardly indicates bad scientific practice-where, exactly, should the experiment have been held? Also, why call the good people at CSI “pseudoskeptics”? They are real skeptics, and are perfectly willing to change their views if their requirements for evidence are satisfied. The results of French’s dowsing experiment are clearly visible; they are not ‘fraudulent’ unless one has a special definition of that term. In short, ad hominem attacks on the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry do not make CSI any less reliable than the groups CSI opposes. Scientists are not “superstitious of the mystical”-they admit its low prior probability and are perfectly willing to test it (provided the test is done at little expense). Thus, the million-dollar challenge.

In short, the above person is a crank who believes in weird things without evidence. He, by claiming the only thing that would disprove a man-made origin for the hill of Visocica would be the excavators only discovering earth below topsoil has shown himself as blind as any religious fundamentalist in this matter. It is amazing he has the intellectual dishonesty to portray the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry as having views any less evidence-based than his own. Visocica isn’t an artificial hill. Scranton and LaViolette are not authorities. Cranks deserve to be ‘persecuted’.

Update (Nov. 22, 2012): for claims of ancient concrete at Visocica, see here.

Regarding Babylonian Policy, or, Why Assyria Has Few Persian-Period Strata

It has always been my opinion that the finest proof of the conventionally accepted chronology of the Ancient Near East has been stratigraphy. Palestine, being the best-excavated, published, and discussed of all lands there, is by far the best place for stratigraphy to be used to prove a point.

Here, I shall demonstrate the Neo-Assyrians were not the Persians (man, I told you someone will believe my proposed duplication of American presidents):


Lachish III was destroyed by Sennacherib (Sennacherib’s Nineveh relief and 2 Kings 18:17, 19:8).

Lachish II was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (Lachish letters and Jeremiah 34:7).

Lachish I was established in the late Persian period (though some settlement existed before that) and survived until the conquest of Idumea by the Hasmoneans (Nehemiah 11:30).

Q. E. D.

I could also cite the more devastating Argument From Greek Pottery.

But, seriously folks, is there any archaeological reason to support the idea the Neo-Assyrians were the Persians?

Let us hear the testimony of Xenophon, who tells us the tale of the ruin of Nineveh, and describes the ruins of Calah, showing these cities were long destroyed in his time.

Also, we do not need to find a Persian stratum at Babylon; the Chaldean buildings there were already good enough to last a few more centuries, and we must also remember that they were cleaned out routinely. Also, it must be pointed out that, like the Chaldeans did to Assyria, the Persians did to Chaldea, encouraging agriculture rather than urbanism, and it is obvious that, especially in a place like Iraq, rural farmsteads might not be detected as they might be in Israel.

Thus, I can find no evidence the Neo-Assyrians and the early Persians were the same.

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!