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Aspects of Ancient Near Eastern Chronology (c. 1600 - 700 BC). PhD thesis, Centre for Classics & Archaeology, The University of Melbourne

"There can be no more important topic in historical studies than chronology, for it is chronology which gives meaning to history by placing individuals, events and material remains within their true sequence. If this sequence does not match historical actuality, then, the historical narrative drawn from the available evidence may appear confused, incomplete or even contradictory. The history of the Near East is bound together by an accurate and continuous absolute chronology which stretches back to the early first millennium BC. However, beyond that point in time we are forced to rely upon relative chronologies for the histories of the Great Kingdoms of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria and Hatti, amongst others. Scholars have pieced together these relative chronologies over the last one-two centuries using information from King-lists, royal annals and administrative documents. The end result of this major enterprise is, today, what can best be described as an extremely complex but little understood jigsaw puzzle composed of a multiplicity of loosely connected data. Moreover, many of the pieces of this puzzle are missing. For example, while the relative chronology of the Egyptian New Kingdom (18th-20th Dynasties) is fairly well established, it is separated from the absolute chronology of the 7th century BC Saite Dynasty by the chronologically indeterminate and confused Third Intermediate Period (21st-25th Dynasties). Meanwhile, Assyrian chronology is generally considered reliable as far back as the 14th century BC. However, there are almost 100 years during the 11th-10th centuries BC from which practically no contemporary Assyrian documents have survived, thereby raising doubt in the minds of some writers over the true chronology of this period. And as for the known synchronisms between Egyptian and Mesopotamian monarchs which are now seen as confirming the historical reliability of the current Late Bronze Age Near Eastern chronology, these synchronisms are not without their own significant difficulties. The aim of my thesis has been to investigate the chronology of the Near East during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age periods (c. 1600–700 BC) to see whether or not the current ‘conventional’ chronology is as reliable as its adherents maintain; and if not, to investigate the possibility of constructing an alternate chronology which better matches historical actuality. As a result of my research, I will argue that the conventional chronology is fundamentally wrong, and that Egyptian New Kingdom (Memphite) dates should be lowered by 200 years. This chronological adjustment will be achieved in two stages: first, the removal of precisely 85 years of absolute Assyrian chronology from between the reigns of Shalmaneser II and Ashur-dan II; and second, the downward displacement of Egyptian Memphite dates relative to LBA Assyrian chronology by a further 115 years. Moreover, I will rely upon Kuhnian epistemology to structure this alternate chronology so as to make it methodologically superior to the conventional chronology in terms of historical accuracy, precision, consistency and testability. "

Author(s):  Furlong, P. J
Format:  Book
Publisher:  The University of Melbourne
Publication City:  Melbourne
Date:  28-Feb-08
Source:  University of Melbourne ePrints Repository