A Paper Clearing Up Where and In What Stratum Shoshenq I’s Megiddo Stele Was Set Up

By Jove! After the good Todd Bolen alerted us of the availability of PEQ articles available freely for the readership of the masses (for a limited time only), I jumped on the opportunity. The most important article available there is from the March 2009 issue, called simply “Putting Sheshonq I in his Place“. Rupert Chapman III (a man whom I had never heard of before) has used the notes of Clarence Fischer and PLO Guy (men whose names I have heard before) to determine that, as Schumacher’s trench which yielded the Shoshenq I Megiddo stele fragment did not extend into modern Stratum VI, the stele fragment must have been deposited in either (modern) Stratum IV or (again, modern) Stratum V for over two and a half thousand years. Chapman also notes (contrary to the opinions of the Velikovskyans) that not a trace of Shoshenq’s stele has been found in the fully-excavated Strata I-III and the fact the stele fragment discovered at Megiddo was found at the surface of the dump holding the debris from Schumacher’s trench, indicating the stele fragment originates from modern Stratum V, not IV. The fact the stele must have been very large (at least twenty times the size of the fragment found) further strengthens the case that the other stele fragments must not be looked for above, in modern Strata I-IV, but below, in modern Strata V-VI. Thus, Finkelstein’s Low Chronology is further strengthened.

However, Chapman’s unconventional (James-ian) chronological revisions are not warranted. Shoshenq I does mention a place in Judah (Gibeon), and interest in the Negev and Jezreel Valley does not indicate interest in the Omride Kingdom. Shoshenq I does not mention Samaria on his list, nor Jezreel, but only possibly mentions Tirzah. The fact Gibeon is mentioned right before Mahanaim in the Shoshenq I list indicates that Finkelstein’s hypothesis of Shoshenq campaigning against something like the Biblical Saulide kingdom is more plausible than Chapman’s hypothesis of Shoshenq I campaigning against the Omrides. The stratum the stele fragment was found in is only a terminus ante quem for the date Shoshenq I erected the stele at Megiddo-there is no need to chunk Shoshenq I into a time where he does not belong! Shoshenq I’s list could have reasonably been composed c. 940-c. 870 BC, as we can tell by archaeological (radiocarbon, stratigraphic, ceramic) methods alone (click the “interest in the Negev” link above for more). Shoshenq I almost certainly erected his stele in either Stratum V or Stratum VI, and most likely in Stratum VB of Megiddo. James’s late date for Shoshenq I is, frankly, superfluous and ridiculous, especially in the light of the archaeological data mentioned above, Hazael’s near-certain incursions into Israel, and the Early Byblian Inscriptions, especially in light of the script of the Tel Zayit inscription. In short, while Chapman’s paper is a major contribution to the study of tenth century BC Palestine, it is marred by useless and futile chronological speculations.

Speculations on the fingerprint and lmlk potteries

Over 500 fingerprint-impressed jar handles have been found at Qeiyafa. The second most fingerprint impression-bearing site is Jokneam, with about 15 impressions (overtones of the northern lmlk handles, esp. at Nahal Tut). Overall, fingerprint-impressed jars appear to be found in the Coastal Plain and North (and Tel Beersheba and Beth-Zur). This provides some rather interesting parallels with the much later (~300 years later) lmlk impressions. Like in the case of the fingerprint impressions, most early lmlk impressions were concentrated at a single location in the Shephelah, and were made out of Shephelah clay. The Iron I fingerprint pottery and the Iron IIb lmlk pottery may have been at the same location. However, unlike in the case of the lmlk impressions, very few fingerprint impressions were found in the highlands (none seem to have been found at Gibeon and Jerusalem). So, who controlled the Qeiyafa polity? I suggest the likely candidates are:

1. The Kingdom of Beth-Zur

Beth-Zur was fortified in the Iron I and yielded one or more fingerprint-impressed jar handles. The kingdom ruled from it may be an illusion (i.e., an establishment of the Gibeonites or Jerusalemites) or an actual kingdom ruling over most of the Hebron hills destroyed by Judah or Gibeon (the Philistines are right out).

2. The Kingdom of Socoh or Adullam

-My gut reaction is to look to local explanations for Qeiyafa’s rise. They may be incorrect, but they haven’t been disproven.

3. The Kingdom of Gibeon

This is Finkelstein (and some maximalists)’s choice. He appears to believe believe Gibeon was a large, powerful kingdom ruled by the Saulide dynasty. I buy this. However, unless someone finds a fingerprint impression at Gibeon, I ain’t buying that Gibeon built Qeiyafa. It’s still a possibility.

4. The Kingdom of Jerusalem

-Almost every maximalist’s choice. As Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in Shoshenq I’s list, I ain’t buying it. I have not done thorough research on the Stepped Stone structure (evidence of the succession of the Late Bronze Kingdom of Jerusalem into Saulide times?), but Gibeon and Mahanaim appear far more prominent in Shoshenq’s list than Jerusalem.

In short, someone really needs to analyze the settlement system between the Hebron hills and southern Shephelah in Late Iron I.

Finkelstein Has A New Paper on Qeiyafa

This one is largely a continuation of his older ideas, but does propose some new ones, including that the excavators’ Hellenistic Wall is Ottoman (though Finkelstein agrees the Late Iron I wall is Late Iron I) and that the site’s Period/Stratum III was primarily settled in the Late Persian period (the excavators now accept the stratum’s foundation in the Persian period). He also associates the Qeiyafa Late Iron I wall architectural tradition and some other material features of the site with highland ones, and makes a reasonable case that Qeiyafa might have been built by the Benjaminite Saulide Polity (an interpretation I considered and rejected, even beginning to write a post on why this idea is unlikely), suggesting the battle in 1 Sam 17 preserves genuine memory of Saulide expansion as far as the Elah valley. He then suggests the (very unlikely, considering the lack of RSHB ware) mention of Qeiyafa in Shoshenq I’s list, toponym 11 or 12.

UPDATE (April 10, 2013): I now support Finkelstein’s interpretation of Qeiyafa as Gibeonite-built.

Why Finkelstein’s 10th Century is More Plausible than Mazar’s

For background, see here. Mazar frequently uses the Shishak list to bolster his “Modified Conventional Chronology” by pointing both Iron IIa Arad and Taanach were mentioned in the Shishak list, and that, therefore, Iron IIa should have begun before Shishak. However, even Mazar’s own model clearly showed that 926 BC, the date of the Shishak campaign against Jerusalem (there were probably multiple campaigns), calculated from the Bible, was the most likely date for the Iron I-II transition. What was going on here? Finkelstein has recently issued an extremely attractive compromise which is perfectly consistent with the Shishak list, totally inconsistent with the Biblical account, and only roughly inconsistent with the radiocarbon models.

His solution?

1. Place the beginning of Iron IIa (Negev sites, Jezreel Valley), maybe in the 930s, just before Shoshenq’s capture of both lands.

2. Place the Iron I-II transition in the Benjamin hill country just before Shishak destroyed or weakened most of its cities. Since there is no evidence Gibeon was inhabited during the Late Iron IIa, and since Gibeon is mentioned by Shishak, Shishak must have campaigned against Gibeon during what was Iron I-Early Iron IIa in Benjamin.

This leads to some interesting historical speculation. Perhaps, as Finkelstein suggested, the Saulide dynasty lasted well into the 10th century, and, perhaps, it was Jeroboam I, king of Tirzah (Shechem was still a village), who made a deal with Shoshenq to peacefully administer the cities Shoshenq conquered and pay annual tribute if Shoshenq captured the cities for him?

The idea the Saulide entity continued into the days of Shoshenq I is suggested by the listing

22. Mahanaim

23. Gibeon

24. Beth-horon

25. Qadtam (Qatane? Kiriath-[Jeraim]?)

26. Aijalon

since only under the Saulides Mahanaim and Gibeon were in any way connected (2 Samuel 2:12).

In any case, the Solomonic Paradigm is just as dead as Minimalism.

The Karnak Relief of Shoshenq I/Shishak!

UPDATE (June 27, 2012): Someone else has published the complete list! Huzzah!

Row I

1. Upper Egypt

2. Lower Egypt

3. The Tribesmen (Nubia)

4. Libya

5. Sekhet-Iam (Westerners)

6. mn.tiw (Asiatics, sometimes Westerners)

7. bowmen of the feather (E. Desert)

8. Upper Nubia

9. he.w-nb-w (Haunebu, or Ha-nebu, meaning “all the northerners”, originally meaning “Delta-men”, later, Aegeans)

10. Roll/Scroll (?)

11. Ge…/Ga…

12. M[ ]e[ ]

13. Rubutu/Rubate (Arubboth/Araba?)

Row II

14. Taanach

15. Shunem

16. Beth-Shean

17. Rehob

18. Hapharaim

19. Adoraim or Adullam

20. xxx (Zaphon?)

21. shwd (Akk. Shadu=Mountain? Eshatol?)

22. Mahanaim

23. Gibeon

24. Beth-horon

25. Qadtam (Qatane?) or Qiriatim (Kiriath-Jeraim?)

26. Aijalon


27. Megiddo

28. Adar

29. Hand of the King (some monument)

30. habiruta (Abu Hawam?)

31. Henam

32. Aruna (‘Ara)

33. Borim (Khirbet Burin, 32°18’37″N, 34°58’59″E)

34. Zeit (Olive Grove)-Padalla (Zeita)

35. Yehem (modern Yama)

36. Beth-‘Olam

37. kqr (unknown)

38. Socoh

39. Beth-Tappuah (?)

Row IV

40. Brook (?)

41. ‘a bi-ru-‘e (‘Ubal?)

42. xxx

43. xxx

44. xxx

45. bt-dbi[ ] (Beth-Saba?)

46. xxx

47. xxx

48. xxx

49. xxx

50. xxx

51. xxx

52. xxx

Row V

53. Penuel

54. Hdsht (New Town? Hadashah?)

55. peket or pe-wr-ktt

56. Adam

57. Zemaraim

58. [Mig]dol

59. [Tir]rzah

60. xxx

61. xxx

62. xxx

63. xxx

64. xxx

65. The Valley

Row VI

66. Ezem (Umm el ‘Azam, 31° 3’5″N, 35° 0’13″E)

67. ‘I-n-m-i-r-i

68. The enclosure [of]

69. Photis

70. irhrr-“Hararites”

71. The enclosure

72. [of] Abram (or stallions), possibly Beersheba or Hazar-Susah.

73. Stream

74. [of] Geber

75. Stream

76. [of] wrkt (Rakkath?)

77. The enclosure

78. [of] Zyt? Nzit?

79. dd[]i

80. Sapek

81. m[]i[]

82. Tap[puah?]


83. gnit

84. the Negev

85. [of] Edeht (Ezen?)

86. Tshdnw

87. The enclosure

88. [of] shnyi

89. hq

90. the Negev

91. [of] whtwrk

92. the Negev

93. [of] ishhtt (Shuhah?)

94. The enclosure

95. [of] hnni (Ben-Hanan?)

96. The enclosure

97. [of] El-Gad

98. idmm(t) (Edom?)

99. hnni (Ben-Hanan?)


100. Addar

101. The enclosure

102. [of] Tilon (?)

103. hydbi (the Precinct)

104. [of] Sharan Ri’m (the plain of antelopes?)

105. The Heights

106. [of]? dywt

107. [the] enclosures [of]

108. Arad

109. the Great

110. Arad

111. [of] the house [of] (nbtt)

112. Yeroham (Jerahmeel?)

113. xxx

114. xxx

115. xxx

116. Addar

Row IX

117. Addar

118. xxx

119. xxx

120. xxx

121. Peletham/Peleth

122. Abel (field)

123. Bir Lawz (Well of Almonds)

124. Beth ‘Anath

125. Sharuhen

126. The hall of the Jackal?

127. g-r-n-i (threshing floor)

128. idmm(t)

129. xxx

130. xxx

131. xxx

132. El-Ra[m]

133. Yurza

134. xxx

135. xxx

136. xxx

137. xxx

138. xxx

Row X

139. Yeroham

140. ‘Iwn-ni-ni (Onam)

141. xxx

142. xxx

143. xxx

144. xxx

145. M-‘-k[t] (Maacah)

146. Addar

147. xxx

148. xxx

149. xxx

150. Y-w-r-d-n

Extension of Row X

1. Sharudad/Shaludad

2. Raphia

3. Laban (whose chief is mentioned by Sargon II in 716 BC as being in charge of refugees “in the border region of the Brook of Egypt”)

4. ngrn (‘Ain Goren?) (Well of the Threshing Floor?)

5. ham

The Purpose of the Palestinian Campaign of Shoshenq I

Now that we’ve concluded Shoshenq I was Shishak, let us find the purpose of Shishak’s campaign. Shoshenq/Shishak apparently found the kingdom of his ally, Jeroboam I, more useful for conquest and settlement than for mere tribute or vassalage. What circumstances caused this enmity between Shoshenq I and Jeroboam is not known. We do know, however, Shoshenq I managed to take many important cities in the land of Jeroboam for burning and settlement, not simply taxation, and that the fortified Judahite cities of Makkedah (12), Gibeon (23), Beth-Horon (24), Aijalon (26), and possibly Socoh (38), were taken, as were the cities of the Jezreel and N. Sharon, and even Transjordan (Mahanaim, after 22). This fits with the statement of the Chronicler that Shoshenq I took fortified cities of Judah “as far as Jerusalem”. This taking was meant to control roads coming to Hebron (Makkedah, Socoh) and Jerusalem (Makkedah, Aijalon, Beth-Horon, Gibeon), the two strategic economic hubs of Judah . The main goal of this campaign was, apparently, to permanently take control of strategic fortresses on main roads to important cities throughout Israel and Judah to yield enormous tribute for the king after they were rebuilt by the tribute-payers. The capitals of the kingdoms would be pillaged as needed. The Egyptian Empire would be reestablished and Shechem and Jerusalem would become their Amarna-age counterparts. Due to this goal we should not seek destruction layers for Shoshenq’s invasion. Unfortunately for Egypt, this plan was not fully implemented due, partly, to Shoshenq’s death less than three years after his erection of his victory inscriptions.

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.

Is Shoshenq I Shishak?

My critique of the Velikovskyans, continued.

One of the foundations of Velikovskyanism is the identification of Thutmose III with biblical Shishak. This Shishak harbored Jeroboam, who rebelled against Solomon, and, therefore, must have reigned a few years before his capture of the fortified cities of Judah and plunder of Jerusalem.  This Shishak is identified with Shoshenq I, great chief of Ma (short for Meshwesh, i.e. Libyans), whose name was, in a few examples, spelled “Shosheq”, practically identical to “Shishak”. He made a relief at Karnak in his 21st year, listing the towns (he took? captured by force?). Jerusalem is not found on his relief, probably either lost or not captured by force, while Gibeon (23), Beth-Horon (24), Aijalon, Socoh (38), Beth-Tappuah (39), and Arad (108) are (note: Breasted’s Records lists the towns as they are listed by Shoshenq I, the picture lists them by geographical order). A fragment of stele found at Megiddo confirms his campaign took place just as he described it. Due to bad record-keeping, only the Judahite perspective of the event survived.

The Velikovskyans, meanwhile, continue to believe that Thutmose III, whose name does not even remotely sound like Shishak, is the biblical Shishak, no matter what archeology says. Thutmose III did not use Libyans who would only be later mentioned by Ramesses II and would take control over Egypt under Shoshenq I. Neither is he mentioned as using Sukkiyim, or scouts, Libyan auxiliaries known only from the 13th century BC onward. Obviously, the Velikovskyans’ weak attempts to place Aruna outside the Nahal Iron and place it at some obscure Jebusite threshing house just east of the Dome of the Rock are just that-weak. They have no alternative locations for Taanach, Megiddo, or Yehem (modern Yama, Israel). Kadesh is still Tell Nebi Mend and nothing else. There is no reason Thutmose should call Jerusalem “Kadesh”, he is writing an account of a battle, and writing “The wretched king of Kadesh” instead of “The wretched king of Urusalimu” simply worsens the effect of trying to make the king appear wretched. Also, the king trying to defend Megiddo should be of Shakhmu(Shechem), not the king of Urusalimu. Thutmose III’s Golden Horus name, Djeser-khau, would be pronounced by the Israelites  “Tseser-chau” (see Zoan), not even close to “Shishak” in any way. Besides, it was Thutmose III’s throne name, Men-kheper-Re, which was used to refer to him in the Amarna letters. Neither can Shoshenq I be So (Osorkon IV, Sargon II’s Shilkanni), though Shoshenq was occasionally abbreviated to “Shosh”, he would be abbreviated to “שוש”, not “סוא” in Hebrew (Akkadian, meanwhile, did not distinguish between Sameks and Shins).