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CP2: Secular Chronology

Its Quandary

Contradicts Bible
Reconstructed Lists
Astronomical Calculations
All About Eclipses
Identification Game
Secular Dates & Ptolemaic Canon
Juggling Economic Texts
Reading Dates into Texts
77 years of Missing Dates
Other Problems

Secular Chronology Before 626 BC is Dubious

cp23 Overview of This Section. There are three points that make today's secular and most so-called Biblical chronologies dubious and I believe in many areas wrong.

Contradicts Bible (1)

cp24 The first point (1) is that all secular chronologies that I am aware of contradict Biblical evidence. This, in itself, means little to someone who thinks the Bible is largely myth. But there is much evidence that contradicts this negative view of the Bible (see "Bible Paper" [BP3]). One should also learn to distinguish between Biblical evidence and Biblical interpretations of evidence. Because I believe in the veracity of Biblical facts, I, of course, give great weight to point (1).

King Lists (2)

cp25 The second point (2) is that most secular and even Biblical chronologies give great weight to such things as king lists. I will show the dubiousness of these lists and that you should give little weight to them for the most part.

Astronomical Calculation (3)

cp26 The third point (3) is that most modern chronologies rely on "astronomical calculation" especially retro-calculations of eclipses. I will show that most astronomical evidence is dubious and should be given little weight except for a few cuneiform tablets that also contain times and positions of several planets as well as times of eclipses. After you study the Chronology Papers you will understand how dogmatic and naive the claim is that the Egyptian, or Assyrian, or Grecian chronologies, or areas in them, are "astronomically confirmed."

1: Contradicts the Bible

cp27 Contemporary-secular chronology before 626 BC contradicts the chronology of the Bible. This in itself is no evidence to many that the Biblical chronology is correct. It is merely a beginning point in our examination of conventional chronology.

cp28 William F. Albright said, "The Babylonian Chronicle ... and the Assyrian eponym lists, with the aid of the eclipse of the year 763 ... enable us to correct the transmitted chronology of the Bible" (Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands, 1936). Notice he says "to correct" the chronology of the Bible.

[An Eponym list is a list of persons officiating as an eponym for a certain year; each year a different person or king or official or governor was designated as that years' eponym: instead of the year being designated by a number, the year was named after the person who was eponym for that year.]

Edwin R. Thiele

cp29 Thiele is an author of a popular rendition of chronology. His chronology is considered a Biblical one. He is widely quoted by secular and Biblical scholars. But Edwin R. Thiele indicates in his writings that Biblical chronology must conform to the Assyrian eponyms along with the apparent 763 BC eclipse of the sun (A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, 1977, pp 28-30, 82-85).

cp30 Even though he is considered a Biblical chronologist, he nevertheless "corrects" the Bible by using the reported eclipse of 763 BC and by using an Assyrian list of eponyms. I disagree here. Thiele does not understand the dubiousness of using an eclipse to date events or the dubiousness of using the Assyrian list of eponyms to "correct" the Bible.

Some of the things wrong with Thiele's chronology are as follows:

cp31 (A) Thiele in his 1977 paperback book, A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, tries to show that Biblical scripture on the reigns of the kings are hopelessly mixed and contradictory by mentioning some apparent contradictions and by quoting some words of noted scholars to the same effect (Chapter 1). But in the Chronology Papers all these apparent contradictions are successfully harmonized. Thiele is too quick to embrace evidence of the apparent eclipse of June 15, 763 BC and he does not understand the dubiousness of identifying dates merely from one reported eclipse. Thiele at the end of Chapter one says in effect that he has the solutions, but his solutions ignore scripture and he reasons against some scripture (pp. 54ff).

cp32 (B) Thiele establishes his chronology based not on the Bible but on secular chronology (Chapter 3, pp. 28ff). He uses the eclipse that is reported to have occurred on June 15, 763 BC along with the reconstructed Assyrian eponym list(s) (pp. 28ff). For example he states that:

"For many years Old Testament scholars have noticed that a total of 128 regnal years for the rulers of Judah from the accession of Athaliah to the end of Azariah ... was about a quarter of a century in excess of the years of contemporary Assyria ..." (p. 44).

He tries to solve this problem by squeezing the Biblical chronology together so that it will agree with the Assyrian chronology by using "dual dating" and "overlapping regnal" schemes (Chap. 4 to 7). But this problem of the missing 25 years may have something to do with corrupt Assyrian kings' list(s) and/or by the misidentification of the reported eclipse.

cp33 Although the eclipse mentioned when Bur-Sagale was eponym is said to be the one on 763 BC, according to Mitchell, it could just as well have been on 791 BC, or 771 BC, or 770 BC using the conventional BC-AD dates (see Eclipses of the Sun, By Samuel Alfred Mitchell, 5th ed., 1951, p. 26). And as we learn under "Astronomical Calculation," [cp82] this eclipse, if it was a real eclipse, could have been in many other periods

cp34 (C) In chapter 6 Thiele tries to fit Israel's king Pekah's reign before king Pekahiah in order to squeeze the Biblical chronology into the Assyrian chronology. But the Bible clearly says that before king Pekah became king (he became king by killing Pekahiah) he was the captain of king Pekahiah:

"But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his [Pekahiah], conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king's house ... and he killed him, and reigned in his room" (2 Ki 15:25).

cp35 This scripture clearly shows Pekah reigning only after he killed Pekahiah, for Pekah was a captain of the king before this event. How can Thiele have Pekah coming to reign before Pekahiah? He does this by changing scripture to suit his own theories and by saying without any proof that the scriptures were "late calculations" of records that were lost (pp. 57-60ff).

cp36 In Thiele' 1983 version of his, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, he is very aware of the problem his chronology causes for the scripture concerning Pekah, for he goes to great lengths to defend his idea (pp. 120, 129-137, 174).

cp37 (D) Thiele's twisting and "reasoning" against scriptures concerning the reigns of Hoshea and Hezekiah is way off the mark (chap 7). Thiele's main apparent goal is to fit Biblical chronology into the broken Assyrian chronology. But the Assyrian chronology cannot be trusted (see # 2 & 3 below).

2: Reconstructed Eponym List(s) and King List(s)

cp38 Secular chronology before 626 BC cannot be relied on because it is based in part on lists of Assyrian eponyms and kings from different cuneiform sources which has been reconstructed so as to show an almost continuous list of reigns of Assyrian kings starting with Enlil-nasir II (1432-1427 B.C.) down to about 647 B.C, conventional dating (see Grayson, Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, Vol. 1 & 2; etc.). Even Egyptian and Sumerian chronologies in part rely on the Assyrian lists (see below). There are at least 66 Assyrian kings listed before Enlil-nasir II, but the King List is too fragmented and incomplete in details prior to his reign so that it is impossible to give dates for these kings with any reliability. I am not saying that the King list after Enlil-nasir II is reliable. An analysis of some of the data concerning the reconstruction can be found in Anstey's Chronology of the Old Testament (Kregel edition, 1973, pp. 98ff & 110ff). Also in the Cambridge Ancient History, Volume I (1923), it gives information and references on the reconstruction of these eponyms.

(chap. IV, see pp 149ff; also see The Cambridge Ancient History, 3rd Ed. Vol. I, Part 4 [1970], pp. 193-200; and see Rogers, Robert William A History of Babylonia and Assyria, 2nd Ed., Vol I [1901], pp. 323-325, 312-348; Grayson Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, [ABC] pp. 196, 269; and see E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers ..., 1983, pp. 142-149.)

Some quotes from these latter sources:

Eponym List(s)

cp39 "While the early Mesopotamians and Babylonians named their years after important events, the Assyrians named theirs after limus. The limu was a title assumed by a different high official each year, the officials following one another according to a definite order. Thus the names of the limus were ready-made year names and the Assyrians did not have to compose year names as the early Mesopotamians did. In the same way that the early Mesopotamians compiled lists of the year names as chronological aids, so the Assyrians compiled limu or eponym lists" (Grayson, ABC, p. 196).

cp40 "A number of copies of the eponym canons must have existed, for numerous fragments have come down to us. These [sic] it has been possible to piece together in the correct order largely by means of the Canon of Ptolemy, to be mentioned below" (Rogers, p. 323, my emphasis).

cp41 Sir Henry Rawlinson found four copies or canons or lists of Eponyms; there were about seven lists or fragments found by 1913 (Anstey, Chron. of the Old Test., 1973 reprint, p. 110).

cp42 "The eponym-lists, except for one small fragment, do not reach back beyond the eleventh century B.C" (C.A.H., Vol I [1970], p. 195).

cp43 "Babylonian Chronological Materials. The Babylonian priests, historiographers and chronographers have left us an enormous mass of chronological materials, all now in a fragmentary state..." (Rogers, p. 312).

King List(s)

cp44 "The Assyrian King List is a list of the kings of Assyria beginning with the earliest monarchs and coming down in time as far as the reign of Shalmaneser V (726-722 B.C.). The list is divided into sections by horizontal lines. Each of the first few sections mentions several kings but thereafter each section deals with the reign of only one king. The information given concerning the early kings is sparse owing to lack of sources, as the ancient author admits. The list provides an excellent chronological framework but is not infallible. On occasion kings are omitted, the regnal years are not always accurate, the filiation is sometimes erroneous, and the order of the rulers is not entirely correct. The list seems to have been compiled in the form in which we now know it during the reign of Shamshi-Adad I" (Grayson, Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, 1972, Vol. 1, p.).

cp45 "These two King Lists have been repeatedly copied, collated, and verified. The chief literature upon them is as follows: (a) Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 1884, pp. 193-204 (Pinches). (b) ..." (Rogers, p. 313, footnote 1 & 2). We must note here that when you "collate" two lists you are taking some from one list and some from the other list: making one list out of two. There are at least four versions of the lists not two.

cp46 "There are four versions (here designated A, B, C, and D) of the Assyrian King List." "There are two fragments.." (Grayson, ABC, 269 & 270).

cp47 "The eponym-list which is behind the Assyrian king-list was damaged, or otherwise deficient, for the interval between Shamshi-Adad I and Adasi. There is also heavy damage to the king-list, in all three copies, for the reigns between Erishum I and Shamshi-Adad I. Before Erishum I no figures were quoted. This means that the king-list is not a reliable source for the period prior to the beginning of the dynasty of Adasi. For the next few centuries we have no means of verifying its reliability ..." (C.A.H., Vol. I [1970], p. 195).

cp48 "Although the royal names are rather deformed, it is possible to connect Ptolemy's Canon with the Assyrian lists, and in this manner all the dates can be fixed as far back as the beginning of Adad-nirari's reign" (A.C.H., Vol I [1923], p. 149).

cp49 As described above there is a difference between the Assyrian Eponym lists and King lists. The Eponym lists are less fragmented than the King lists. But from the fragmented nature of these lists and because they were reconstructed by scholars in the last hundred or so years (by scholars who lived thousands of years after the facts), I wouldn't give much credence to "facts" based on the Assyrian kings list or Eponym list. At best these lists are approximate. As previously quoted from Grayson, "the Assyrian royal scribes were prone to hyperbole, hypocrisy, and even falsehood."

Egyptian Chronology and King Lists

cp50 For the most part Egyptian chronologies rely on contradictory copies of the Manetho's king list and on some vague astronomical observations such as the one that was supposed to have occurred in 1536 BC as well as some connection to the Assyrian king lists (see Budge, The Book of the Kings of Egypt, Vol. 1, pp xxviii-xxix, xl-xlii; lii-lix"Radical Exodus Redating Fatally Flawed," by Baruch Halpern, Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov./Dec., 1987, footnote 1, p. 61).

cp51 "The Egyptian chronology is based on the list of the Pharaohs, made by Manetho under Ptolemy II" (Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World, p. 82; Budge, The Book of the Kings of Egypt, Vol 1, Chap. 2).

cp52 Finegan in his Archaeological History, mentions other Egyptian king lists beside the list of Manetho, the list on the Palermo Stone, the Table of Abydos, the table of Saqqara (Sakkara), and the Turin Canon of Kings (p.184).

cp53 W.B. Emery in his Archaic Egypt, also mentions different king lists:

"The old Egyptian records consist of five king lists. These are:

1. The 'Tablet of Abydos' inscribed on the walls of a corridor of the temple of Seti at Abydos, listing a series of the nesu names of seventy-six kings from Menes to Seti I.

2. The 'Tablet of Karnak,' now in Paris, originally listed the nesu names of sixty-two kings from Menes to Thotmose III, but it does not compare with the Abydos list in value, for it was largely based on tradition rather than on formal chronicles.

3. The Tablet of Sakkara, found in the tomb of the Royal Scribe Thunery and now in the Cairo Museum, lists the nesu names of forty-seven kings beginning with Merbapen (Enezib) and ending with Rameses II....

4. The Turin Papyrus, written in hieratic, presents a list of kings with the length of each reign in years, months, and days. Unlike the monumental lists of Abydos, Karnak, and Sakkara, it does not stop with unification and the First Dynasty, but goes back beyond mortal kings to the dynasties of the gods....

Valuable as it is, the Turin Papyrus is a tragedy, for more than half its value has been lost by careless treatment. Originally in the possession of the king of Sardinia, it was sent to Turin in a box without packing and it arrived at its destination broken into innumerable fragments. For years, scholars have worked to fit together what remained, but even so, in it restored state, many important gaps occur and the order of some of the kings remains in consequence a matter of debate. Of the seventeen kings of the Archaic Period, only ten are definitely recognizable.

5. Finally we have the so-called Palermo Stone which, like the Turin papyrus, represents another tragedy for archaeological research. Only five small fragments of a great stone slab, originally about 7 ft long and 2 ft high, are in our hands and no record remains which will give a clue to where these pieces were found.... The slab of black basalt was lightly inscribed with the annals of the first five dynasties and also the names of the kings of Upper and Lower Egypt who ruled the two separate kingdoms before the Unification.

Of the Classical sources Herodotus was of limited value, for he trusted too much in the stories related to him by the dragomans who guided him in his travels in Egypt, apparently making no attempt to establish the historical truth of the information thus obtained. But the fragmentary extracts taken from the writings of Manetho by Josephus and by the Christian chronographers Africanus (A.D. 300) and Eusebius (A.D. 340) were of immense importance and formed the framework on which Egyptian history has been built" (pp. 21-23).

cp54 In Budge's The Kings of Egypt, he writes:

  • "Now if we compare these lists [Tablet of Abydos & Tablet of Sakkarah] with each other, it becomes at once clear that, although they are both supposed to cover the same ground, they differ considerably in many places. Thus the Tablet of Sakkarah opens with the name of Merbapen, which is the sixth in the Tablet of Abydos, and the Tablet of Abydos contains a batch of eighteen names for which there is no equivalent in the Tablet of Sakkarah. We are therefore obliged to conclude that those who drew up these lists have only given us series of selected names. Moreover, monuments bearing numbers of royal names which are not included in either list are well known to Egyptologists. The order of the names is substantially the same in each list, but we may note that in the Tablet of Sakkarah names Nos. 37-46 are written in reverse order. Each list stops at the beginning of the XIX dynasty, and therefore we can obtain no help from either in constructing a list of the remaining kings of that dynasty, or of the following dynasties. For help in this difficulty recourse must be had to the famous List of Kings, which tradition says was drawn up for Ptolemy Philadelphus in the third century before Christ by Manetho of Sebennytus.... His work is lost, but four versions of the King List are extant, and are found in the 'Chronography' of George the Monk, the Syncellus of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who flourished in the VIIth century of our era. The oldest version of the King List is that of the Chronicle of Julius Africanus, a Libyan who flourished early in the IIIrd Century A.D., which is preserved in the Chronicle of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea (born A.D. 264, died about 340). Eusebius himself gives a King List, which contains many interpolations. If the versions of the King List of Manetho according to Africanus and Eusebius be compared, it will be seen that they do not agree in the arrangement of the dynasties, or in the lengths of the reigns of the kings, or in the total number of kings assigned to the different dynasties. Thus Africanus makes 561 kings reign in 5524 years, while Eusebius gives the number of kings as 361, and he says their total reigns amount only to 4480, or 4780 years. The version of Africanus agrees better with monuments than that of Eusebius. It is probable that Manetho drew on the writings of the best authorities available in his time, but it is very doubtful if the sources of his information were complete or wholly trustworthy" (Budge, p. xl-xli).

cp55 Budge summarizes it:

  • "In dealing with Egyptian Chronology it must always be remembered that, comparatively speaking, little is known about it. Many writers on the subject have spent much time and ingenuity in trying to make facts derived from the monuments square with Manetho's King List, and the result of their torturing of the figures and their manipulation of the names has frequently obscured the truth" (Budge, p. xllii).
  • "To construct a perfectly complete series of the kings of Egypt, with their dates, we need a complete set of monuments which would tell the order of the succession of the kings, and the length of each king's reign. Such a set of monuments does not exist, and therefore no complete system of Egyptian Chronology can be formulated" (Budge, p. xlii).

Egyptian Kings' Multiple Names

cp56 Manetho used a Greek form for the names of the Egyptian kings. This makes the identification of Manetho kings difficult because of the radically different spelling. Furthermore, as just quoted from Emery's Archaic Egypt, some king lists used nesu names of the kings. The kings of Egypt had many different names: Horus name (Ka or 'double' name); nesu name; nebti (nebty) name; insibya name; prenomen name or throne name (Suten Bat); or even the kings personal name, nomen (son of Ra name) (Emery, pp. 21-23, 33ff; Finegan, p. 185ff; Budge, pp. xi-xxvii).

cp57 Rameses II had at least 72 names (E.A. Budge, The Book of the Kings of Egypt, Vol. 1, pp. 165-177).

cp58 "The difficulty does not lie in the order of succession of the kings according to their Horus names.... The difficulty and subject of dispute ... lies in the identification of the Horus names with those submitted by Manetho and those shown on the monumental lists" (Emery, p. 32).

cp59 Manetho. There is great "diversity of opinion among Egyptian historians," and this equals "vexed question of chronology" (Emery, p. 28). "There is reason to doubt the strict accuracy of Manetho's figures, for they show every sign of being distorted by the carelessness of his copyists" (Emery, p. 29, he then gives examples between different versions of Manetho's list; Budge, ...Kings also compares different versions, pp. lxi-lxxiii).

cp60 Breasted in his A History of Egypt, also stated that the chronology of Manetho is a late and careless compilation especially of the earlier kings which were "built up on folk-tales and popular tradition of early kings" (pp. 18, 10, Bantam edition). "The dating of the earlier Egyptologists, placing the foundation of united Egypt in the region of 4400 B.C., has long been discarded" (Emery, p. 28). At the time Emery wrote his Archaic Egypt (1961) the 4400 BC had been reduced to 3100 BC - 2800 BC where it now stands (p. 28).

cp61 "By vocation Manetho was an Egyptian priest associated with the city of Serapis. He was not only well versed in the high Greek culture of his day, but he was also thoroughly familiar with Egyptian lore and could read hieroglyphics. He was the first Egyptian to write a history of his country in Greek.

cp62 Manetho was also, like so many of the well-educated Hellenistic Egyptians, anti-Jewish. Indeed, he figured prominently in the Egyptian emergence of anti-Jewish polemical literature in the third century B.C., especially in Alexandria. Ironically, a Jewish historian was responsible for preserving most of the fragments of Manetho's writing. Josephus, the famous Jewish historian of the first century A.D., quotes extensively from Manetho, and it is primarily in this way that Manetho's work has come down to us" ("Jacob in History," Aharon Kempinski, Jan - Feb 1988, Biblical Archaeology Review.).

Egyptian Dates Astronomically Fixed?

cp63 Many think wrongly that Egyptian chronology is fixed in the heavens, that it is astronomically fixed. Kathleen Kenyon in her Royal Cities of the Old Testament makes just such a statement:

  • "Dates for Palestine are dependent on the Egyptian calendar, which was based on astronomical observations. These can be astronomically related to the modern calendar. With a varying degree of precision, the recorded regnal years of the Egyptian rulers can be fitted in to the astronomical calendar. There are elements of doubt, and the dates preferred by different scholars vary" (p. x).

cp64 In James Henry Breasted, A History of Egypt, in his "Chronological Table of Kings" he indicates many dates in his table are "astronomically fixed." How these dates are "astronomical fixed" he doesn't say. It cannot be based on eclipses since, "from the enormous wealth of written documents from ancient Egypt we have only one doubtful reference to a partial solar eclipse of 610 B.C.... Not a single Egyptian observation is quoted in the Almagest... There exists one Coptic eclipse record of 601 AD..." (O. Neugebauer, Exact Sciences in Antiquity, notes for Chap IV). Neugebauer from his book, Exact Sciences in Antiquity, sums it up:

  • "In summary, from the almost three millennia of Egyptian writing, the only texts which have come down to us and deal with a numerical prediction of astronomical phenomena belong to the Hellenistic or Roman period. None of the earlier astronomical documents contains mathematical elements; they are crude observational schemes, partly religious, partly practical in purpose. Ancient science was the product of a very few men; and these few happened not to be Egyptians" (p. 91).

cp65 "The present writer [Budge] has no wish to belittle in any way the importance of the help which astronomical calculations may afford the Egyptologist in his chronological difficulties, or to deny their general accuracy, but the variations in the results obtained by the different authorities from the same data must tend to make every one hesitate to accept blindly dates which are declared by their advocates to have been ascertained astronomically, and to be 'absolutely certain'" (Budge, p. lvii).

cp66 As we will see in the "Astronomical Calculation" [cp192] section, eclipses and other so-called astronomical evidence are very dubious. The so-called total eclipse of the moon in the time of Takelot II of the so-called XXII Egyptian Dynasty reads:

  • "...the heaven could not be distinguished, the moon was eclipsed (literally was horrible), for a sign of the events in this land...." (H. Brugsch-Bey, A History of Egypt, London, 1894, p. 226)

Please see our "Astronomical Calculation" section to understand that such vague references to 'eclipses' are worthless for date setting.

Egyptian King Lists: Conclusion

cp67 Because of the nature of the king lists of Egypt, with its internal contradiction, because the same Egyptian king used many names, because of the different ways cuneiform names can be spelled, because I know of no comprehensive study on how the Hebrews spelled the king's names of Egypt or what names they did use, I cannot harmonize the pharaohs of Egypt with the chronology of the Bible at this time. Those who say that the Egyptian chronology is based on astronomical evidence don't understand how vague and unreliable is the evidence. The so-called astronomical evidence used to prove the Egyptian dates has to do with the fallacious "Sothic period," vague reports of eclipses and new moons, and even through the use of the Assyrian King lists because of certain associations between Egypt and Assyria. See Donovan A. Courville in his The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, Vol 2, Chapter IV for arguments against Sothic dating.

(Budge, ...Kings, pp. xlv ff; Baruch Halpern, "Radical Exodus Redating Fatally Flawed," Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov.- Dec. 1987, footnote 1, p. 61; Hall, Cambridge Ancient History, Vol., p. 170; for critique see Velikovsky, Peoples of the Sea, pp. 206ff, 215ff; and see Courville, The Exodus Problem, Vol 2 pp. 48ff; and see "Astronomical Calculation," below)

Sumerian Chronology And Hammurabi

cp68 Were Sumerians, called Sumerians? The Sumerians are felt to be one of the most ancient nations. (The evidence is too dubious for me to date the so-called Sumerians: too much is made of too little evidence.) "By the end of the fourth millennium B.C. Sumerian civilization was fully developed. This statement involves a question which has often been discussed, 'Who were the Sumerians?'. The adjective 'Sumerian' has been formed by modern scholars from the place-name 'Sumer' which from the late part of the third millennium B.C. was the name regularly used for southern Mesopotamia as opposed to 'Akkad,' the northern part of the river valley; but the inhabitants did not call themselves 'Sumerians,' they were simply 'The people of Sumer'. For the modern historian the invention of the adjective 'Sumerian' was convenient for distinguishing a particular language, a particular people, and a particular civilization" (Ur of the Chaldees, [1982], p. 44).

cp69 This is why the Sumerians are not named in the Bible. The Sumerians had another name or names, but so far no scholar has ascertained it. Not only is the name of this people unknown, but a noted author on the Sumerians, admits that the history of Sumer is dubious:

"The second chapter deals with the history of Sumer from prehistoric days ... to the early second millennium B.C... Because of the fragmentary, elusive, and at times far from trustworthy character of the sources, not a few of the statements in this chapter are based on conjecture and surmise, and may turn out to be true only in part or even to be entirely false" (The Sumerians, Samuel Noah Kramer, 1963, pp. vii-viii).


cp70 The chronology of Sumer is keyed to the reign of Hammurabi:

"Let us now turn to the problem of dating in order to see what justifies the statement made in the preceding pages that Sumerian literature represents the oldest written literature of any significant amount ever uncovered. The tablets themselves, to judge from the script as well as from internal evidence, were inscribed in the Early Post-Sumerian period, the period following immediately upon the fall of the Third Dynasty of Ur. Just as a rough point of reference, therefore, the actual writing of the tablets may be dated approximately 1750 B.C.a" (pp. 18-19, Sumerian Mythology, by Samuel Noah Kramer, Harper Torchbooks:1961)

"a The date 2000 B.C. assigned to the clay tablets on which the Sumerian compositions are inscribed should be reduced by about 250 years as a result of recent studies which point to a date as low as about 1750 B.C. for Hammurabi, a key figure in Mesopotamian chronology" (p. 120, Supplementary Notes, Kramer, 1961).

cp71 At first Hammurabi was believed to have reigned about 450 earlier than 1750 BC:

  • L.W. KING in his The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi, (1900), dated Hammurabi from about 2200 BC.
  • "The chronology of this period is only approximately fixed, and any attempt to definitely settle the various problems it presents and to assign the accession of each king of the First Dynasty to a particular year must be regarded as purely provisional. If the List of Kings were perfectly preserved this would not be the case; as it is, the principal evidence by which the general date of this dynasty is fixed consists of two passages in cylinders of Nabonidus. From one of these we learn that Burna-Burias lived 700 years after Hammurabi, and from the other that Sagasalti-Burias lived 800 years before Nabonidus. Since Burna-Burias and Sagasalti-Burias are both kings of the Third, or Kassite, Dynasty, these two references enable us to roughly fix the date of Hammurabi at 2200 B.C."

(L.W. King, The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi, 1900, pp. LXIX-LXX, AMS Press reprint)

cp72 The revision of the contemporary date of the reign of Hammurabi has to do with his contemporary, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I, who is found in the Assyrian King List (Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, Albert Kirk Grayson, Vol. 1, 1972, p. 157, "1813-1741").

cp73 From Jack Finegan's, Archaeological History of the Ancient Middle East, we see that in the "tenth year name" of Hammurabi the text:

  • "also dates the record of a legal action in Babylon involving a person of probable Assyrian origin, in this the usual oath-formula names both Hammurabi and Shamshi-Adad. Thus, an important synchronism shows that this king of Assyria, Shamshi-Adad I (1813-1781), was still on the throne in the ninth year of Hammurabi (1784)" (p. 61).

cp74 The palace of these rulers at Mari, which was defeated by Hammurabi:

"preserved royal archives in the form of more than 20,000 cuneiform tablets, almost all in the Babylonian language... These include administrative and economic documents, political and diplomatic communications, and a few literary and religious compositions.

The diplomatic correspondence touches upon events in the reigns of ... Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria ... and of Hammurabi of Babylon. The correlations thereby provided have much to do with the fixing of the chronology of this period. Similar historical and chronological importance also attaches to cuneiform tablets found at Alalakh (Tell Atchana, on the road from Aleppo to Antioch and the Mediterranean)" (pp. 63-64).

cp75 E.J. Bickerman in his Chronology of the Ancient World, writes:

"Yet, recently discovered documents prove that Hammurabi was contemporary with Shamshi-AdadI of Assyria, who, according to the Assyrian list, reigned in the second half of the eighteenth century. Should we bring Hammurabi down or move Shamshi-Adad up? The rather fluid chronology of the Pharaohs and the Hittites and vague archaeological inferences led recent scholars to suggest 1792-1750 or 1728-1686 as the most probable dates of Hammurabi. Other scholars prefer to place him in 1848 or even c. 1900. As a matter of fact, the Assyrian kings themselves disagree with each other and with the information supplied by the royal list when they state the interval between a given king and some predecessor" (pp. 84-85).

cp76 Hammurabi's years were lowered over 400 years mainly because of the Assyrian King List. But Jacobsen doubts this data because he distrusts the older parts of the Assyrian list (The Sumerian King List, pp. 191-193ff).

cp77 Jacobsen has reasons to doubt the older parts of the Assyrian king list:

  • "The list is divided into sections by horizontal lines.... The information given concerning the early kings is sparse owing to lack of sources, as the ancient author admits. The list provides an excellent chronological framework but is not infallible. On occasion kings are omitted, the regnal years are not always accurate, the filiation is sometimes erroneous, and the order of the rulers is not entirely correct" (Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, Vol. 1, Grayson, p. 1).

cp78 Instead of dating Hammurabi by using the Assyrian king list, Jacobsen wants to date Hammurabi with "synchronisms with Egyptian chronology" (p. 193). But the Egyptian chronology is based on even more dubious evidence even though some modern writers think the Egyptian chronology is an accurate one because it is believed to be based on astronomical evidence (see "Egyptian Chronology," and "Astronomical Calculation").

cp79 Therefore the new date for Hammurabi is a reduction of 450 years. Courville in his The Exodus Problem, reduces Hammurabi's years even more to about 1411 - 1368 BC (p. 300). There is some evidence that he may be much later than 1750, that is some time after the Exodus. In The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi, L.W. King, 1900, Vol III, page 12ff, it shows an order by Hammurabi to Sin-Idinnam ordering him to insert an intercalary month (a second Elul) in the calendar. There is some evidence that the year used to be 360 days before the Exodus and that an astronomical catastrophic event changed the year to the 365 1/4 day year either at the Exodus or much later than the Exodus (See "Catastrophic - Astronomical Events" in CP2 and "Astronomical Chaos" in CP3). The real time when Hammurabi lived I do not know, nor will I guess when Hammurabi lived.

Sumerian King List

cp80 "The first fragment of the Sumerian King List of any importance was published by Hilprecht in 1906... As was natural, considering the fragmentary state of the material and the gradual way in which it accumulated, most of these studies were concerned primarily with the reconstruction of the text, the placing of the known fragments, and the filling up of gaps. The reliability of the information contained in the fragments was rarely seriously questioned. Most scholars inclined to accept it at face value.." (The Sumerian King List, Thorkild Jacobsen, 1939, pp. 1-2).

cp81 But by 1923 there grew a wave of "rapidly growing skepticism." Studies showed that "several dynasties listed as consecutive in the King List must in reality have been contemporaneous ... so many kings who were to be expected in the King List are not mentioned there and that so many of the older rulers mentioned appear with unbelievably long reigns, center most of the comments on the King List after 1923" (pp. 2-3).

cp82 "In late years the study of the King List has come almost to a standstill, and its evidence is hardly ever used for purposes of chronology" (p. 4). "But our manuscripts of the King List give opportunity for such study only to a very limited degree. The majority are small fragments. It is therefore relatively seldom that many of them overlap, and passages common to several versions, where we might observe the spread of variants, are few" (p. 14). "The view which we have stated here (...), that our texts are copies, or copies of copies, of a single original document, seems to be generally held by scholars..." (footnote 31, p. 14).

3: Astronomical Calculations

cp83 And point (3), secular chronology before 626 BC cannot be relied on because it is based in part on an apparent solar eclipse that has been identified as the eclipse that was supposed to have occurred on June 15, 763 BC according to astronomical calculation, and based on other supposed eclipses.

(Handbook of Biblical Chronology [1964], Finegan, 159; "Radical Exodus Redating Fatally Flawed," by Baruch Halpern, Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov./Dec., 1987, footnote 1, p.61; see (2) above)

cp84 Although the reported 763 BC eclipse deals mostly with Assyrian chronology, this astronomical event is interrelated with other chronologies because of the king lists and the interplay of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and other cultures. What applies to this so-called eclipse also applies to others used to prove other secular events and chronologies.

cp85 We need to examine what "astronomical calculation" is all about in order to understand why there is no real proof of secular chronology prior to 626 BC. Because of the finding of some astronomical cuneiform tablets dating after 626 BC, it is possible to verify some conventional dates after 626 BC. But this is not to say that secular chronology after 626 BC is entirely correct or mostly correct. It so happens that two astronomical cuneiform tablets dated after 626 BC (568 and 523 BC) help to prove the Biblical chronology and some of the conventional chronology (see CP3).

cp86 Some set their chronology by the calculation of past solar and/or lunar eclipses:

  • "For the year when Bur-Sagale, governor of Guzana, was eponym, the record states that there was a 'revolt in the city of Assur. In the month of Simanu an eclipse of the sun took place.' Astronomical computation has fixed this date as June 15, 763 B.C. This notation is of immeasurable value for Assyrian chronology, for the date of the eponymy of Bur-Sagale being established as 763 B.C., the year of every other name on the complete list can likewise be fixed. It is thus that we have absolutely reliable dates for each year of Assyrian history from 892 to 648 B.C" (Edwin R. Thiele, A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, p. 29).

cp87 No wonder that those who lack the time to research such statements about the certainty of Thiele's chronology are positive that the present conventional chronology is the absolutely correct one because of astronomical calculations it is based on. But the reason Thiele uses eclipses is because he wrongly thinks the Bible is mistaken in its chronology:

  • "But as these Biblical numbers are examined, they appear to be in almost constant contradiction with each other, and it seems impossible to work out a harmonious pattern of reigns for either Judah or Israel that is in accord with the numbers in Kings or that agrees with the established chronology of ancient history" (p. 10, my emphasis).

cp88 At the end of chapter 1, Thiele tries to indicate that he does not really think the chronology of the Bible is wrong, but only misunderstood:

  • "In the pages to follow, the solutions to the various problems involved will be given. It will be shown that once the methods of chronological procedure employed by the early Hebrew recorders are understood, the data of synchronisms and lengths of reign can be woven together into a pattern of internal harmony that is in accord with the years of contemporary chronology at every point where a precise contact occurs" (p. 13).

cp89 In actual fact, Thiele thinks there are several parts of the Biblical chronology that are wrong and that is why he changes the natural flow of certain king's reigns such as Pekah's and Hoshea's (chap. 6 and 7) and disregards certain scripture as mistaken late calculations by editors of the Bible (chap 7). Thiele uses "overlapping reigns," "dual dating," and theories of "late calculation" by Biblical editors to make his theories fit and work with the Assyrian chronology. He mainly does this because he is mistakenly convinced of the infallibility of identifying dating through solar eclipses and the Assyrian kings list.

In Thiele's own words

cp90 From his book, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 1983:

  • "If Biblical chronology seems to be at variance with Assyrian chronology, it may be because of errors in the Hebrew records" (p. 34).
  • And, "Assyrian chronology back to the beginning of the ninth century B.C. rests on a highly dependable basis" (p. 67).
  • And, "the chronologies of these two nations [Assyria & Neo-Babylonia], at least for the period with which we are most concerned, have been definitely established" (p. 67).
  • "From some period very early in their history -- possibly from the very beginning of the kingdom -- to the end, the Assyrians followed the practice of each year appointing to the office of eponym, or limmu, some high official for a calendar year, and to that year was given the name of the individual then occupying the position of limmu. Historical events in Assyria were usually dated in terms of these limmus" (p. 68).
  • "One item of unusual importance is a notice of an eclipse of the sun that took place in the month Simanu in the eponymy of Bur-Sagale. Astronomical computation has fixed this as 15 June 763. With the year of the eponymy of Bur-Sagale fixed at 763 B.C., the year of every other name of the complete canon can likewise be fixed. The Assyrian lists extant today provide a reliable record of the annual limmu officials from 891 to 648 B.C.; and for this period they provide reliable dates in Assyrian history" (p. 69).
  • "Since Ptolemy's canon gives precise and absolutely dependable data concerning the chronology of a period beginning with 747 B.C., and since the Assyrian eponym canon carries us down to 648 B.C., it will be seen that there is a century where these two important chronological guides overlap and where they may be used as a check on each other" (p. 71).
  • "When the student has at his disposal chronological materials so dependable as the assyrian eponym list and the ptolemaic canon, he may have complete assurance that he has a solid foundation on which to build" (P. 72).

What Thiele does not understand here is that the king list was reconstructed in order to reflect the Ptolemaic Canon (See cp149).

cp91 But in contradiction to this last clear statement, Thiele then goes on and argues concerning some contradictions within the eponym lists about the eponymy Balatu, whether he was an "extra eponymy" and if there was an "extra year" (p. 73). And Thiele goes on to raise further doubt about the Assyrian chronology:

  • "A determination of the question of whether there were one or two eponyms during the year 786 and whether the longer or the shorter chronology is correct" (p. 74).
  • "It is extremely rare, however, that an Assyrian inscription provides an account of every year without a gap. The eponym canon deals with every year, and a very few other inscriptions give annual reports; but the usual rule is many omissions in the record. Seldom is there any indication as to just how large or small a gap may be, whether many years or only a few" (p. 126).
  • "The eponym Chronicle has been of invaluable service to scholars in their endeavor to fit properly together facts gleaned from other sources. But in spite of the splendid work that has already been done, it is admitted by careful historians that future study may indicate the necessity of making some modifications in results already achieved" (p. 143).

All About Eclipses

cp92 Thiele's chronology and others like his are based in part on the calculation of past eclipses. But these apparent past eclipses and the calculation of them are a weak link in this established chronology.

Vagueness of Ecliptical Records

cp93 As just quoted from Thiele's paperback book (p. 29) there was an apparent eclipse when Bur-Sagale was eponym: "In the month of Simanu an eclipse of the sun took place." Or it can be translated as, "the sun was obscured" (Pensee, Fall 1973, p. 21). Although this may have been an eclipse, as to whether it was a total eclipse or partial we do not know.

cp94 Concerning the so-called eclipse of 763 BC Robert R. Newton writes:

  • "With regard to the magnitude, Fotheringham [1920] argues: 'As the eclipse is the only eclipse mentioned in this Chronicle, which covers an interval of 155 years, there can be no reasonable doubt that it had been reported as a total eclipse.' This is not a safe conclusion. Even in annals the recording of eclipses is highly variable, as Dubs [1938] has shown for Chinese records. Over a span of five centuries, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles recorded six solar eclipses, of which one (809 Jul 16) was probably far from total. (During this time the Chronicles missed ten or more eclipses that must have been large if not total.) " [Ancient Astronomical Observations and the Accelerations of the Earth and Moon, by Robert R. Newton, 1970, p. 60]

What Newton is saying here is that chronicles that apparently mention eclipses do not necessarily give all of them, or even most of them, or even the larger ones of the chronicle's time period.

cp95 Most ancient so-called eclipses are not identified as total or partial. The following have been interpreted as eclipses:

  • "in the seventh year the day was turned to night, and fire in the midst of heaven" (p. 58, Newton)
  • "the sun has perished out of heaven" (p. 29, Mitchell's Eclipses of the Sun)
  • "turned mid-day into night" (p. 29, Mitchell).

cp96 There is a great vagueness in ancient texts as regard to eclipses. If you could be sure that a reported eclipse was total, it would make it easier to find the year of the eclipse, but not easy, for in any century there are hundreds of eclipses.

cp97 Robert R. Newton writes:

"The total eclipse of the sun is a rare and spectacular event....

It is rare, of course, because the zone of totality is narrow, typically of the order of 100 km. The duration of totality at a particular point is of the order of 4m[minutes]. Thus a simple observation of totality, coupled with an observation of a place where totality occurred, is an astronomical observation of considerable accuracy. The time is needed only to identify the eclipse; an accuracy of a decade in reporting the time is enough in some cases. Unfortunately these simple ingredients of an accurate report are often missing.

Many eclipse reports are found in national annuals or chronicles that reported events of interest anywhere in the country. Sometimes the exact place can be recovered from the annals, often it cannot....

Some reports by an individual do not give the place....

In considering the accuracy of an observation of totality, one should note first that many reports simply state that an eclipse occurred, with no accompanying detail" (Newton, Ancient Astronomical Observations ..., 1970, p. 35-36).

cp98 Newton classified ancient observations of eclipses into one appearing in (a) technical reports, (b) annals and chronicles, (c) assimilated eclipses, (d) magical eclipses, and (e) literary eclipses. Newton says the "magical and literary eclipses can be put into a family that can be called myth" (p. 470). While assimilated eclipses are eclipses that were real but were mixed with the wrong time or place or another event. Eclipses found in ancient technical reports and annals may have "typographical errors" and authors of annals or chronicles may have dramatized the reported eclipses.

Frequency of Eclipses

cp99 There is a possibility of as many as seven eclipses in a calendar year:

  • "five of the sun and two of the moon, or four of the sun and three of the moon. The smallest number possible is two -- both of the sun" (Astronomy, by William T. Skilling and Robert S. Richardson, 1949, p. 249).
  • "Since eclipses of sun and moon are possible only when the sun is near one of the nodes of the moon's orbit, eclipses, in general, will occur at intervals of about 6 months. Since the lunar eclipse limits are smaller than the solar, it is possible that no eclipses of the moon will occur in any calendar year. Two solar eclipses must occur under these conditions, however. In this century there are 14 years when only two solar and no lunar eclipses take place. Under the most favorable circumstances there may be as many as seven eclipses, two of the moon and five of the sun or three of the moon and four of the sun, in any one year.... From A.D. 1901 to 2000 there will be a total of 375 eclipses, according to Oppolzer's 'Canon der Finsternisse,' 228 of the sun and 147 of the moon; an average of nearly four per year" (The Elements of Astronomy, by Edward Arthur Fath, 1944, pp. 166-167; see Theodor von Oppolzer, Canon of Eclipses, 1962, Dover reprint, or Oppolzer's 1887 work).

Saros versus Ecliptic Interval

cp100 Lunar and solar Eclipses repeat themselves every 18 years 10 1/3 days (6585.32 days), a period of time mistakenly called a saros.

  • "Another document to be considered under category A is the Eighteen-year Interval List. This is a list of eighteen-year intervals beginning with the seventh year of Nabonidus (549 B. C.) and ending with the 21th year of the Seleucid Era (99 B. C.) When first published, the nature of this document was misunderstood and it was incorrectly called the Saros Tablet. The mistaken interpretation of the text and its misnomer arose from a misunderstanding of the term saros. O. Neugebauer [The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, 1956] has shown that although Berossus used the term saros (from Sumerian sar) as a designation of a period of 3600 years, a later misunderstanding led to the erroneous conclusion that saros was the Babylonian designation for a period of 223 months (= 18 years + 10.8 days [Note: Grayson speaks here of the period of 19 returns of the sun to the same node, not 223 synodic months]). When the present tablet was first discovered and published by Pinches, Oppert immediately connected this list of eighteen-year intervals with the idea that saros was the Babylonian designation for an eighteen-year period. He claimed that this was a list of such periods and called it the Saros Tablet. Since it is now known that saros is not a term for an eighteen-year period, this text cannot possibly be a Saros Tablet" (Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, p. 195, col 2 to p. 196).

Series of Eclipses

cp101 An eclipse repeats itself every 18 years 10 1/3 days or 6585.32 days (Fath, p. 167). But this is the interval between two eclipses of the same series. Remember there can be as many as seven eclipses within a calendar year. There are series of eclipses:

  • "Each individual eclipse, whether of the sun or moon, belongs to a series.... Though an eclipse repeats itself only after eighteen years, there are several eclipses of some kind each year. This is because there are many series going on all the time; there are about 28 series of lunar eclipses, and 42 of solar. Thus there must be a total of about 70 eclipses in every 18 years, or nearly an average of four a year, including eclipses of both sun and moon" (Skilling & Richardson, Astronomy, 1949, p.249).

cp102 Because when a certain eclipse in a series repeats itself, it is 1/3 of a day past the position of the last eclipse, then the eclipse will appear on the earth:

  • "1/3 of the way around the earth to the west of where it came before. The earth has time to turn 1/3 of the way around (to the east) farther than it did before. But since an eclipse of the moon always covers at least half the earth, and the eclipse path of the sun may extend more than a third of the way around the earth, two successive eclipses will overlap each other. This makes it possible for a person favorably located to see two successive eclipses of the moon, and at least the partial phase of two successive solar eclipses. At each return the eclipse comes on the average about 180 miles north or south of its previous latitude. Half of the series work northward and half southward." [Note: This is because 19 returns of the sun to the same node is .46 of a day more than the moon's synodic period, 6585.78 days versus 6585.32 days (Fath p. 167). This causes the eclipse to fall "a little north or south of where it was before [6585.32 days earlier]. Whether it is farther north or farther south depends on whether the eclipse is at a descending node or at an ascending node" (Skilling, p. 251-252). ]
  • "At each third repetition of a solar eclipse, that is, once in 54 years, the longitude of the eclipse should be nearly the same that it was before, for the series would have traveled all the way around the earth in 54 years. That often [every 54 years] the partial phase, at least, of a solar eclipse should be seen in the same locality" (Skilling and Richardson, pp. 249-250).

cp103 Thus it is possible for an eclipse of the sun or moon (of specific series) to occur in approximately the same location as often as every 18 years for each series of eclipses, but more likely for the sun every 54 years. From a certain location, the repetition of a full solar eclipse will not occur every 18 years, and may not occur every 54 years because of the eclipse's north or southward movement of approximately 180 miles each synodic period.

Types of Eclipses

Annular Eclipses

cp104 If the moon is in its apogee position (furthest distance from the center of the earth) as compared to its perigee position (nearest distance from the center of the earth), the eclipse of the sun will not in any case be a total eclipse, but an annular eclipse. In annular eclipses, the moon appears smaller than the sun, thus a ring, or annulus, of the sun's disk remains uncovered. "Annular eclipses are 20 percent more frequent than total eclipses" (Baker & Fredrick, An Introduction to Astronomy, 7th Ed., p. 194).

Partial and Total Eclipse

cp105 Of the solar eclipses during the 20th century only 28 percent were total, while 35 were partial and 33 percent annular. About 4 percent were annular-total (Eclipse, Bryan Brewer, p. 67).

Penumbral v. Umbral Eclipses

cp106 Furthermore some of the eclipses of the moon cannot be seen at all even in good weather because the eclipse is of the penumbral shadow and not the umbral shadow. The umbral shadow is the dense part of an eclipse shadow while the penumbral shadow is the less dense part of the shadow. In a recent eclipse of the moon, Oct 7, 1987, the only shadow cast on the moon was the penumbral shadow. Even though this is counted as an eclipse of the moon in such canon of eclipses as Jean Meeus and Hermann Mucke (1979), and even though I knew ahead of time when it was to occur, I could not detect any shadow on the moon by eyesight. About 36 percent of all lunar eclipses from -2002 to +2526 will have been penumbral eclipses, according to calculations (Canon of Lunar Eclipses, -2002 to +2526, by Jean Meeus and Hermann Mucke, 1979, p. XIII).

Observable Eclipses

cp107 Most solar eclipses, except total ones, are not even noticeable to most people. A total eclipse only lasts about 4 minutes on average, at the very most 8 minutes. A penumbral eclipse of the moon is basically invisible, at most the color of the moon changes. A partial eclipse of the sun below 99 percent, or an annular eclipse of the sun is also basically invisible:

  • "We find that the overall partial p-type eclipses of Oppolzer were never noticed and even the annular r-type were often missed. Most of the early records relate to eclipses that were total, either at the place of observation or within a few hundred miles of the track of totality.... The total phase seldom lasts more than five and never more than eight minutes.... Long before totality commences, Venus is usually visible, but during totality, planets and a few stars may be seen.... Total eclipses are rare; at any one place the average is three times in a millennium.... The intensity of daylight may not be greatly reduced so that an annular eclipse may not even be noticed... Annular-total eclipses are classified with fully total eclipses as Central [but nevertheless are not easily noticed].... [concerning partial eclipses] Such eclipses are more frequent than is usually supposed, for they occur about once every 2 years at any given location. However, the loss of light is smaller than heavy clouds would produce and partial eclipses usually passed unnoticed by the astronomically-unsophisticated chronicler.... Astronomers, and those who have been forewarned, may notice an eclipse of magnitude 0.70 [percent] (cf. AD 808) if they see it in a reflection, at sunset or through thin cloud or haze, and then the moon shaped black crescent suggests that a large bite is taken out of the Sun. The average person notices a thin solar crescent of a solar eclipse only when the magnitude reaches 0.99 [percent]" (D. Justin Schove, Chronology of Eclipses and Comets, [1984], pp. x-xv).

Lunar eclipses are visible whenever the moon is above the horizon to the observer and can be seen over more than half the earth during its duration. Umbral eclipses can last almost 4 hours, counting from when the moon's first contact with the umbra until the moon exits the umbral shadow. While the total shadow over the moon can last over1 hour and 40 minutes. For example, one of the longest total lunar eclipses ever occurred on January 30, 30 BC. It lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes (from first contact of the umbra to the last contact), while the total eclipse lasted about 1 hour and 42 minutes. This eclipse was seen in Jerusalem and in North America.

'Average' Time Between Eclipses

cp108 Remember there are many series of eclipses going on in a 54 year period. This means full eclipses of the sun from different series of eclipses may be seen from the same position on the earth more often than every 54 years. In certain circumstances an eclipse can be seen within two years of the last eclipse. In the vicinity of the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia people were able to see two total solar eclipses; one in 1970 and one in 1972 (Baker and Fredrick, An Introduction to Astronomy, 1967, p.196). See chart called, "Important Solar Eclipses," p 253, Astronomy, by Skilling & Richardson, where it shows several solar eclipses visible in certain areas on the earth within different two or three year periods.

cp109 In Eclipse, by Bryan Brewer (1978, p. 70) we read:

  • "Partial phases of solar eclipses can be seen about every 2 years from the same spot. The best estimate for total eclipses is to say they recur at the same location about every 360 years on the average. This figure is based on the average width of eclipse paths, the total surface area of the Earth, and the overall frequency of total eclipses. But the actual facts vary, sometimes widely, from this estimate. The table below helps illustrate the apparent random nature of the recurrence of eclipses at the same place. The examples were chosen, not to prove any lack of pattern, but to present the flavor of the variation involved."

See PDF file for chart

Identification Game

cp110 All this above, especially since the ancient so-called eclipses are vague as to type or magnitude (partial to total), vague as to exact location, and vague as to time period makes it extremely difficult to identify the year of their occurrence. This enables chronologists (Ptolemy included) to play the "identification game."

cp111 The "identification game" is explained by Robert R. Newton in his Ancient Astronomical Observations (pp. 45-47). It is played by chronologists when they think they know the ancient writer or chronologist's approximate location, the approximate date within decades of the occurrence of the eclipse, and when they have a copy of solar charts in such works as Oppolzer Canon (1887). When they have this information they merely,

  • "identify the eclipse as the one with the greatest calculated magnitude." Then they use,"this possibility alone in using the eclipse to improve the astronomical constants or the accelerations." Thus, "they lead to a successful 'identification' for almost any set of times and places chosen at random. It is only necessary for there to be a modest uncertainty in either the time or place. Further, the calculated path of the 'identified' eclipse, by the rules of the game, passes close to some chosen point. Thus, if the 'eclipse' report is used to improve the constants that went into the eclipse computation, by making the calculated path go through the chosen point, it is almost guaranteed that the changes in the constants will be acceptably small" (R. Newton, p. 46).

cp112 An example of this identification game in process is shown in, The Story of Eclipses [1912], by George F. Chambers. Notice this game was played with the chronologically important 763 BC eclipse:

"The discovery to which I allude is a contemporary record on an Assyrian tablet of a solar eclipse which was seen at Nineveh about 24 years after the reputed date of Amos's prophecy. This tablet had been described by Dr. Hinckes in the British Museum Report for 1854, but its chronological importance had not then been realized. Sir H. Rawlinson speaks of the tablet as a record of or register of the annual archons at Nineveh. He says: -- 'In the eighteenth year before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser there is a notice to the following effect -- 'In the month Sivan an eclipse of the Sun took place' and to mark the great importance of the event a line is drawn across the tablet, although no interruption takes place in the official order of the Eponyms. Here then we have notice of a solar eclipse which was visible at Nineveh ... and which we may presume to have been total from the prominence given to the record, and these are conditions which during a century before and after the era of Nabonassar are alone fulfilled by the eclipse which took place on June 15, 763.'

This record was submitted to Sir G.B. Airy and Mr J.R. Hind, and the circumstances of the eclipse were computed by the latter, by the aid of Hansen's Lunar Tables and Le Verrier's Solar Tables. The result, when plotted on a map, showed that the shadow line just missed the site of Nineveh, but that a very slight and unimportant deviation from the result of the Tables would bring the shadow over the city of Nineveh, where the eclipse was observed, and over Samaria, where it was predicted. The identification of this eclipse, both as regards it time and place, has also proved a matter of importance in the revision of Scripture chronology, by lowering, to the extent of 25 years, the reigns of the kings of Jewish monarchy" (Chambers, pp. 76-77).

cp113 Notice that even though the "shadow line" missed the site of Nineveh in the tables it was close enough for the "identification game" being played here. It is not clear to me what Chambers means by this "shadow line" in the table. By looking at the 1983 Canon of Solar Eclipse by Mucke and Meeus, page 685, it shows the shadow line representing the total eclipse missing the area of Nineveh, but at this site, if Mucke and Meeus' work is correct, people at or near Nineveh saw a solar eclipse that was approximately 95-99% total, if weather permitted the observation, and if the earth and planets were still in the same orbit as now. Remember, the eclipse was retro-calculated. There is evidence of catastrophic-astronomical events in the past. See "Catastrophic - Astronomical Events" in CP2 and "Astronomical Chaos" in CP3.

cp114 Airy was also responsible for the present identification of the eclipse of Thales of Miletus as happening on May 28, 585 B.C.:

  • "The exact date of this eclipse was long a matter of discussion, and eclipses which occurred in 610 B.C. and 593 B.C. were each thought at one time or another to have been the one referred to. The question was finally settled by the late Sir G.B. Airy, after an exhaustive inquiry, in favour of the eclipse of 585 B.C. This date has the further advantage of harmonizing certain statements made by Cicero and Pliny as to its having happened in the 4th year of the 48th Olympiad" (Chambers, p. 94).

cp115 Airy method is the identification game method as is shown by how he identified other eclipses:

  • "Sir G.B. Airy, having had his attention called to the matter, examined roughly all the eclipses which occurred during a period of 40 years, covering the supposed date implied by Xenophon. Having selected two, he computed them accurately but found them inapplicable. He then tried another (May 19, 557 B.C.) which he had previously passed over because he doubted its totality, and he had the great satisfaction of finding that the eclipse, though giving a small shadow, had been total, and that it had passed so near to Nimrud that there could be no doubt of its being the eclipse sought" (Chambers, p. 97).
  • "The tables used by Baily were distinctly inferior to those now in use, and Sir G.B. Airy thought himself justified in saying that to obviate the discordance of 180 miles just referred to 'it is only necessary to suppose an error of 3 minutes in computed distances of the Sun and Moon at conjunction -- a very inconsiderable correction for a date anterior to the epoch of the tables by more than twenty-one centuries.' " (Chambers, pp 104-105)

cp116 Airy by just adjusting the computation a little comes up with what he wants. This is another dubious aspect of using eclipses to establish chronology -- the present computation of ancient eclipses may or may not be correct. If the present computation of ancient eclipses is wrong a whole new can of worms is opened or a whole new area of dubiousness enters the picture. See F. Richard Stephenson, "Historical Eclipses," Scientific American, Oct. 1982, pp. 170ff, especially p. 180 top, for some information about the possibility of the sun shrinking, or earth spin slowing down and their effect on retro-calculation of past eclipses.

1000 Years Difference

cp117 In Robert R. Newton's Ancient Planetary Observations and the Validity of Ephemeris Time, he shows us a swing of over 1000 years in the identification of a solar and lunar eclipse and other astronomical phenomena:

"Kugler published and discussed a text that he dates to the months IV through IX of the year 40 of Artaxerxes I (the year SE -113). The text makes statements about the number of days in each month, and about the dates of full moons, of first and last visabilities of the planets and of Sirius, of the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, and of one lunar and one solar eclipse. It has been claimed that the statement about the lunar eclipse is a highly accurate and reliable observation of the lunar eclipse of -424 October 9, and much weight has been put upon this alleged observation. However, I do not see any reason to assume that the text contains an observation of a lunar eclipse at all.

I did not originate this conclusion. Kugler reached it in the cited reference sixty years ago, and he emphasized it at least two places that the text contains no observation, but only calculations" (pp 127-128).

"It is interesting that Kugler used the word 'alleged' in referring to these records, just as I have done, but for a different reason. He referred, in the caption of his relevant section, to alleged records from the middle of the second millennium before Christ'. The text in its present form has no indication of year, and students before Kugler had assigned it to a year near -1500. Kugler assigned the year SE -113 [-424] from an analysis of the astronomical information in the text" (p. 130).

Notice that Kugler assigned the year -424 because of his analysis of the astronomical information in the text, but students before him for the same reasons assigned it to a year around -1500. The "identification game" is very liberal. What is a 1000 years or so?

Calculations versus Observations

cp118 In summarizing this same cuneiform text Robert Newton writes:

  • "In summary, if the year is SE -113 [425 BC], it is certain that at least one of the eclipse records in the text is calculated, and there are various reasons to conclude that all records in the text are calculated. If the year is not SE -113, it is mathematically possible that both eclipse records represent observations. In either case, however, there is no basis for the assumption that the text records an observation of the lunar eclipse of -424 [425 BC] October 9. If the year is right, we are dealing with calculations and not observations. If the year is wrong, we are not dealing with the date -424 October 9 at all" (p. 130).

cp119 So Newton is not even sure about the present identification of the text. Newton also brings up that many of the cuneiform text of astronomical events were calculations and not observations. This makes it even more difficult to use astronomical calculations to prove chronology.

Identification Game, More on the

cp120 Lynn E. Rose put the same identification game into the following words:

"Let us now turn to the general context within which the received opinions about such matter as intercalation have developed. Over the years there has been a close cooperation between Assyriologists and astronomers. The interpretation of texts has been carefully guided by astronomical retrocalculation, in accordance with uniformitarian principles. The Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga (London, 1928) is a microcosmic replica of the sort of cooperation that has pervaded scholarship generally: Langdon was an Assyriologist, Fotheringham was an astronomer, and Schoch was a mathematician, concentrating here on tables to facilitate astronomical retrocalculation.

... A historian may consult an astronomer regarding an eclipse or other astronomical event. The astronomer will calculate possible dates for the event. The historian will then arrange his chronology so as to fit the astronomer's retrocalculations. Then some time passes, and the chronology becomes orthodox. The grounds for the chronology are forgotten, and it is assumed to rest on solid historical evidence. No one remembers or can even find out any more that it rests on astronomical retrocalculations. Then a new generation of astronomers and historians play the game again, this time in reverse direction. The chronology is taken as independently fixed, and the eclipse or other event is taken as datable on purely historical grounds. Then someone retrocalculates in the same manner as before, but not in order to set up the chronology this time -- just to check it. And of course all the pieces fit. Different generations have made the same numerical computations and obtained the same results" (Kronos:A Journal of Interdisciplinary Synthesis, Vol IV, No. 2, Winter 1978, "Just Plainly Wrong: A Critique of Peter Huber," by Lynn E. Rose, p. 39).

cp121 This quote is from Rose's critique of Peter Huber. It is interesting to quote from Peter Huber concerning the matter of the observation of Venus:

"4.3 The Old Babylonian Venus observations

Apart from minimal changes (to be mentioned below) we followed the text established by E. Reiner and D. Pingree, The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa...

4.3.1. Data screening

To avoid possible misunderstandings, I must present the analysis of these very poor data in considerable detail. As a rule, apparent gross errors and conjectural emendations were included in the astronomical calculations, but otherwise treated like missing values and excluded from statistical tests. However, I struggled with the Venus Tablet data long enough so that the treatment is not wholly consistent between calculations I did seven years ago (i.e. before RP) or more recently.

The text contains dates of 49 distinct phenomena; if it ever was complete, it covered 52. The data set is the worst I ever have encountered as a statistician. From the number of internal inconsistencies (between dates of disappearance and reappearance and the stated duration of invisibility) and of discrepancies between duplicates, one may guess that at least 20 % to 40 % of the dates must be grossly wrong. This entails that we must perform some data screening to eliminate the clearly wrong values, ...

It should be emphasized that this screening is independent of chronological assumptions.... Among them, we shall throw out groups which seem to be affected by a common pattern of errors, for example the entire last section of the text, which seems to be more corrupt than the rest" (Peter Huber, Astronomical Dating of Babylon I and Ur III [June 1982], pp. 14-15).

cp122 Huber tries to assure us that he did not ignore or screen some of the text for chronological assumptions. But he writes a few pages later:

"At least 5 of these 8 dates give a poor fit for any chronology fitting the majority of the data. One may wonder whether they belong to Ammisaduqa at all.... Anyway, we cannot gain much by keeping this section in, so we may just as well stay on the safe side and drop it entirely.


This date agrees so poorly with any chronology fitting the majority of the data (it is several days too late) that I decided to drop it, ....

After establishing a particular chronology we may go back and check also the rest of the data against calculation" (Huber, p 19).

cp123 By reading this work by Huber it is obvious that he is changing data to fit chronological assumptions. Huber uses the Venus Tablet as some use the Bible, if the data or scriptures don't fit their assumptions, they change the data or scriptures -- "scribal error." One reason the data of the Venus Tablet doesn't fit today's observation of Venus is because Venus may have orbited at that time in a different path and the data in the Venus Tablet was a recording of that different path (see "Astronomical Chaos," CP3).

Suppression of an Eclipse

cp124 Another example of the identification game and of data screening is the blatant ignorance of the eclipse mentioned in the so-called Esarhaddon Chronicle. On the obverse (front) of the clay tablet it reads on the 5th line:

"In the month of Teshri [Sept - Oct] the sun darkened [its] light."

cp125 This is quoted from the English translation found in Sidney Smith's Babylonian Historical Texts, page 14. In the "Notes" for this tablet Smith has a footnote for line 5:

  • "Sir Frank Watson Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, has kindly informed me that there were three eclipses in 680 B.C., of which only the first could possibly be visible at Babylon; but since this eclipse fell on January 1, 680 B.C. according to the Julian Calendar, this cannot be the phenomenon referred to in the text, which is dealing with September-October. The expression therefore refers to some other phenomenon" (p. 16).

cp126 Line 5 of the obverse side of the tablet indicates a solar eclipse in the first year of Esarhaddon just as clearly as any other note of an eclipse in ancient writings. Of course like the rest of the so-called eclipses mentioned in ancient writings it does not indicate a total or partial eclipse. The only reason, repeat, the only reason this apparent eclipse is not used to confirm conventional chronology is because it would not confirm it, but disprove it. Thus the words that expressed that the sun was darkened in the first year of Esarhaddon must therefore refer "to some other phenomenon." When an eclipse in ancient writings confirms the conventional chronology it is an eclipse; when it doesn't it of course is "some other phenomenon." What this tells us is that there is something wrong with the conventional chronology. It is not based on sound thinking or on a solid foundation.

In Conclusion

cp127 Astronomical methods for dating ancient events are not as sure as some say they are:

  • (A) Present secular and "Biblical" chronologies are based on vague evidence and these chronologies are at variance with the chronology of the Bible and that is why some have "corrected" the Biblical chronology so that it would agree with the Assyrian data and an alleged eclipse of 763 BC.
  • (B) There is a vagueness to the records of eclipses, "The principle reason is the paucity [or shortage] of examples of eclipse records which provide adequate data for unequivocal identification of the eclipse record with a calculated eclipse. There is thus always the possibility that the eclipse record has been correlated with the wrong eclipse, thus leading to obscuring the truth rather than establishing it" (p. 201, Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol 12, Number 4, "The Use and Abuse of Astronomy in Dating," by Donovan A. Courville).
  • (C) "A second factor limiting the value of this method for dating purposes is the fact that only major eclipses have any genuine potential for dating. Partial eclipses are of such frequency that the chances for proper correlation are remote, thus leading to erroneous conclusions. Even a total or near total eclipse of the sun can be expected to have occurred within any period of a century or less in a given area" (Courville, p. 201).

Catastrophic-Astronomical Events

cp128 Also, if Velikovsky-like theories of catastrophic events in our solar system in the past are correct, the position of the earth may have been moved in relation to the Sun and Moon in the year -687 and -747 (Velikovsky's dates, but see Sean Mewhinney, "On 'The Year -687'," and "Velikovsky, Mars, and the Eighth Century," Kronos, VI:4 [1981] & XII:1 [1987]). This would make calculations before approximately -687 incorrect as far as finding occurrences of eclipses (see Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision; see "Astronomical Chaos," CP3). This may be the reason the eclipse of 763 BC gives a false reading and that the suppressed eclipse of the Esarhaddon Chronicle has not found a place in secular chronology. If there were astronomical catastrophic events near -747 and -687, then the solar system before these events would not conform to the present arrangement and thus retrocalculation would not locate a correct date for old eclipses recorded in such old texts as the Assyrian eponym lists.

cp129 Some proof that the solar system changed positions some time between -747 and -687 (Vel. dates) is that about this time Babylon began to gather observation of positions of planets once again.

cp130 Kugler in a later part of his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, had a chapter entitled "Positive Proofs for the Absence of a Scientific Astronomy before the Eighth Century B.C." "These proofs consist of the fact that one finds that after this date Mesopotamian astronomers were concerned with calculating basic data that should have been known for a long time to those who pursue scientific astronomy. They were trying to ascertain such elementary matters as the exact location of the spring equinox and the system of intercalations necessary to obtain a calendar corresponding to the solar year. Furthermore, they would have just begun to keep accurate record of the eclipses... the Chinese record begins at the same moment of time. Kugler observed also that, although the planets had been identified as such for at least one thousand or two thousand years, in the seventh century B.C. the science of planetary motions seems to have been at its very beginning" (Livio C. Stecchini, "Astronomical Theory and Historical Data," The Velikovsky Affair, 1967, p. 157).

According to Parker and Dubberstein (Babylonian Chronology):

  • "Reconstruction before 626 is much too hazardous at present and must await further additions to our knowledge" (p. 2 of the 1956 edition).

Review of Secular Chronology Before 626 BC

cp131 If one believes the Bible is the Word of God, then number (1) above [cp26] by itself would disprove any secular chronology before 626 BC that is based on Assyrian chronology that contradicts Biblical evidence because the Bible cannot err (John 10:35). The Bible to Christians is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction" (2 Tim 3:16). Of course to others, number (1) [cp26] above would mean little. The dubiousness shown in numbers (2) [cp37] and (3) [cp82] above also shows us the unreliability of secular chronology before 626 BC as presently reconstructed from Assyrian eponyms and king lists. The presently accepted chronologies before 626 BC are highly suspect and I believe wrong.

Secular Dates from 626 BC to 75 AD

cp132 At one time I thought that the dates of secular history, specifically from 626 BC to 75 AD (conventional dating system), were sound dates because of the apparent evidence shown in the book, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75 (1956), by Parker and Dubberstein. This book (or one of its earlier versions) is one of the primary books used by chronologists and historians to confirm their dates.

(for example see: A.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, footnotes on pp. 35, 87, 93, etc; D.J. Wiseman, Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon, footnotes on pp. 113, 118; D.J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings, footnotes on pp. 7, 38, 43; John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Darius The Mede, footnote on p. 74; Peter J. Huber, Astronomical Dating of Babylon I and Ur III, pp. 8, 51)

cp133 But notice what was the basis for this book's chronology:

"The general basis for the chronology of the period here treated is furnished by the Ptolemaic Canon, with help from classical sources. Cuneiform chronicles and lists of kings have also been of considerable help in checking and improving on the general framework of chronology. The numerous cuneiform economic texts often furnish an accurate check on the lengths of reigns. Since these texts cover the larger part of the period, from 626 B.C. to the middle of the second century B.C., they are of prime importance. Dates from cuneiform astronomical texts are especially helpful for the chronology of the third and second centuries B.C."

(Parker and Dubberstein, p. 10, my emphasis; also see The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol I [1923], p. 149 and The History of Babylonia and Assyria, 2nd Ed. Vol 1 [1901], p.324)

cp134 Notice the basis for the chronology of the period 626 B.C.- 75 A.D. is the Ptolemaic Canon. This canon, called the Royal Canon by Bickerman, is the foundation of ancient chronology for these years (Chronology of the Ancient World, pp. 81ff). As we shall see, this is one problem with secular chronology. I have found other problems.

cp135 The problems I found with Parker and Dubberstein's book and its documentation were:

(1) the Ptolemaic Canon itself;

(2) juggling of the economic text tablets from one king's reign to another;

(3) reading or projecting or interpolating dates into clay tablets, or suppressing evidence;

(4) and there are about 77 years where there is no cuneiform evidence for the reigns of the later and supposed kings of Persia (Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes III, Arses, and Darius III).

1: Ptolemaic Canon

cp136 The Ptolemaic Canon or Chronology is the work of one man Claudius Ptolemaeus (about 70-161 AD). He was the author of the Ptolemaic System of Astronomy. This is the system where the earth is stationary and all the heavenly bodies rotate around the earth. This theory was king for nearly a millennium and a half. This astronomical system was replaced by the Copernican system in about the 16th Century and thereafter. Ptolemy was apparently also one of the founders of the science of Geography.

cp137 Ptolemy's Canon or Chronology is merely a canon or list of kings with the years of their reigns that was included in his "Handy Tables" (Ptolemy's Almagest, 1984, G.J. Toomer, pp. 10-11). It had no explanatory writing with the list to explain the reasons Ptolemy put the list in its form. There is even some contention that the list or Canon was compiled after Ptolemy's death by someone else who then included it with Ptolemy's work, or it was a "list of kings preserved in Theon's [of Alexandria] commentary on Ptolemy's astronomical work. Composed by Alexandrian astronomers for their own calculations" (Bickerman, p. 81ff).


Ptolemy wrote his list as a late compiler, not as a contemporary historian of the Persian and Babylonian Empire. He is corroborated by some evidence found in the book, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. - A.D. 75, but there are approximately 77 years wherein there are NO economic clay tablets (see below).

cp139 He is contradicted by Persian national traditions preserved by Firdausi (about 931-1020 A.D.), by the Jewish national traditions preserved in the Sedar Olam Rabbah, and by the writings of Josephus (see Chronology of the Old Testament, by Martin Anstey, pp 18-19ff).

Ptolemy's Fraud

cp140 In the last several decades Ptolemy has come under some close scrutiny by Robert R. Newton and others. From Newton's The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy, 1977:

  • "It is possible that Ptolemy has deceived us about what Hipparchus did; we shall find in later chapters that he frequently deceives us about the work of other astronomers" (p. 99).
  • "Even if there are such sources, they cannot explain how Ptolemy, by accident, over and over again, happened to make just those errors which allow his erroneous theories to agree with preassigned values, namely values that were accepted from the work of earlier astronomers" (p. 101).
  • "In Chapter V. 12 he describes in considerable detail how he built an instrument for measuring the parallax of the moon, how he put it in place and aligned it correctly, and how he made observations with it.... But we showed in Section VIII.5 that Ptolemy did not make this observation at all.... To put the matter bluntly, Ptolemy lies about what he has done, and his elaborate description of his procedures is false. Presumably he inserts the description of the parallactic instrument only to provide convincing detail that will make us think that he did make the claimed observation. I do not know of any principles of science or philosophy, ancient or modern, that justify such conduct" (p. 352).
  • "In Chapter VII.4 of the Syntaxis [Almagest], Ptolemy says that he has measured the coordinates of all the stars that it is possible to observe, down to stars of the sixth magnitude. He identifies the instrument with which he made the measurements, he describes the procedure that was followed, and he presents the alleged results in his star catalogue. However, we proved in Chapter IX above that the coordinates were not obtained by measurement at all. They were not obtained with the instrument that Ptolemy claims to have used, they were not obtained by the method that he claims to have used, and they were not obtained by any other instrument or procedure of observation. They were fabricated, and Ptolemy lied about what he did" (p. 353).
  • "Ptolemy chooses the worst way rather than the best way to get the apparent diameters of the sun and moon" (p. 360).
  • "In several places, Ptolemy measures or pretends to measure the same quantity more than once. In spite of this he does not seem to understand the significance of measurement error. We see this because Ptolemy's repeated 'measurements' always agree with almost impossible accuracy" (p. 361).
  • "However, Ptolemy does not do this, as we have seen. Instead, he fabricates data in an attempt to make his defective theory seem correct" (p. 362).
  • "Since the time of Copernicus, many writers including myself have used Ptolemy's fabricated material in studying the accelerations of the sun, the moon, and the planets. All this work must now be redone" (p. 366).

cp141 You have to study Newton's books and papers to understand why Newton is so angry with Ptolemy. At first Newton did not believe Ptolemy was a fake or a fraud, but someone who just may have fudged his figures a little to prove or explain his "earth is the center of the universe." At first Newton trusted many of Ptolemy's so-called observations and reports of other's observations, but as time went by Newton rejected all of Ptolemy's so-called observations. The more Newton studied Ptolemy the more he saw that Ptolemy was a fake and not even a fair astronomer:

  • "The best we can say for him, it seems to me, is that he was mediocre. In view of the summary above, I believe that most readers will have serious reservations about Ptolemy's capacity as an astronomer" (p. 364).
  • "Several colleagues with whom I have discussed this work have asked what could be the motive for Ptolemy's fraud.... Another is probably the most likely: Ptolemy wanted to be known as a great astronomer, perhaps as the greatest of all time. He may have found, early in his career, that he did not have the qualifications, and so he turned to the only remaining way of satisfying his ambition, which was to replace ability by fraud" (p. 376).
  • "If the Syntaxis had not been written, we can be sure that much valid Greek astronomy now lost would have been preserved directly.

In other words, we do not owe Ptolemy our thanks for the small amount of earlier astronomy that he has preserved. Instead, we owe him our condemnation for the large amount of genuine astronomy that he has caused us to lose....

We can no longer accept as evidence anything Ptolemy says unless we have independent confirmation, and historians must now confront the task of identifying all historical material that rests upon the unsupported word of Ptolemy. At a guess, the realization of Ptolemy's fraud destroys half of what we have been accepting as Greek astronomy.

There are many examples of the damage that Ptolemy has done to astronomy by his fabricated data. Because he accepted the observations that Ptolemy used, and because he thus had to reconcile these data with genuine data, Copernicus [1543] had to make his heliocentric theory much more complicated than it needed to be.... Since the time of Copernicus, many writers including myself have used Ptolemy's fabricated material in studying the accelerations of the sun, the moon, and the planets. All this work must now be redone" (pp. 365-366).

cp142 Even G.J. Toomer who recently translated Ptolemy's Almagest into English (Pub. 1984) wrote about Ptolemy's "manipulation" of his computations and so-called observations:

  • "In the course of making the translation I recomputed all the numerical results in the text, and all the tables... The main purpose of this was to detect scribal errors... But my calculations incidentally revealed a number of computing errors or distortions committed by Ptolemy himself.... I have noted every computing error of a significant amount, and also those cases where the rounding errors are not random, but seem directed towards obtaining some 'neat' result. I hope that this will shed some light on the problem of Ptolemy's manipulation of his material (both computational and observational).." (Ptolemy's Almagest, 1984, p. viii).

cp143 Toomer admits, in a roundabout way, that he too found errors that were not random (meaning they were systematic) in both Ptolemy's computations and observations. But he merely calls them "interesting" and protests that Newton's work "tends to bring the whole topic into disrepute" (p. viii). But Newton has good cause to call a spade a spade, or a fraud a fraud: because Ptolemy has done great damage to astronomy. And Toomer has cause not to call a fraud a fraud: because he has spent a great deal of time and energy on his new translation of Ptolemy's Almagest. From all appearances Toomer has done a great job on this book: it reads well and it is full of helpful notes and aids. But because of the seriousness of Ptolemy's crime, Newton had just cause to harshly criticize him.

Ptolemy and Chronology

cp144 Ptolemy's work "has been used extensively in two areas of chronology" (Newton, 1977, p. 371). One area has to do with the Athenian calendar, "all seven observations are fabricated. This fact does not in itself mean that the equivalent Athenian and Egyptian dates are incorrect, but it does not give us confidence in the situation.... We cannot accept any statement in the Syntaxis [Almagest] as evidence. We can accept only those statements that have confirmation from independent sources, and this means that we are not using the Syntaxis itself; we are using only independent sources.... This means that all studies of the Athenian calendar which have been based in whole or in part upon the Syntaxis must be redone, so that their dependence upon it can be removed" (p. 372)

cp145 (This is the only way I use Ptolemy's work -- only with other independent confirmation.)

No Babylon Calendar Dates

cp146 Furthermore, Ptolemy's work is also used extensively for the Babylonian chronology. But notice what Newton manifests about Ptolemy's use of Babylonian dates and chronology. Ptolemy's reports of Babylonian observations are suspicious:

"Ptolemy says that he has a copious collection of astronomical observations made in Babylon.... Ptolemy states the dates of seven lunar eclipses with the aid of the Babylonian kings. However, as we point out in Appendix C, he never gives any more of the Babylonian date than the year. This contrasts strongly with his treatment of other calendars. In dealing with any other calendar, Ptolemy gives the full date in that calendar, and he then gives the equivalent in the Egyptian calendar. The exceptions are so few that they can easily be accidental.

His practice with regard to the Babylonian calendar does not arise from defects in the Babylonian records. In all Babylonian astronomical records that I have examined, the year, month, and day are all stated. However... there is a peculiarity about the Babylonian calendar which is not shared by other calendars.... If one has the Babylonian date of a lunar eclipse in the Babylonian calendar, it is easy to find the Egyptian (or Julian) date if one has the list of kings. The converse is not true. If one has the Egyptian date of a lunar eclipse, one can determine the Babylonian year from the king list. [but not the month or day because of the nature of the Babylonian lunar-solar calendar] ...

Let us see how Ptolemy would go about fabricating a Babylonian record of a lunar eclipse. He would start by determining the Egyptian date of an eclipse that he wants to use, and he would then fabricate the exact circumstances (magnitude and hour) as he wants them. It is important to realize that his process gives the date of an actual eclipse, and that the fabricated circumstances are fairly close to the truth. He then wants to give the date in the Babylonian calendar, but he cannot for the reasons that have been outlined. All he can give is the Babylonian year.

Calculations Does Not Authenticate King's List

cp147 [Continuing quote from Newton]

It is also important to realize that Ptolemy does not need an authentic king list in order to give a year in the Babylonian fashion. Even if his king list is fabricated, he can still use it in order to assign a specific year of a specific king to his fabricated eclipse record.

Now let us see what happens to a modern historian or chronologist who studies Ptolemy's eclipse records. He sees that Ptolemy dates a lunar eclipse in the first year of Mardokempad, for example, on a certain month and day in the Egyptian calendar, at a certain hour on that day, and he states the fraction of the moon that was shadowed during the eclipse. The historian uses Ptolemy's king list to find the year in our calendar and he uses the Egyptian month and day to find the complete date in our calendar. He then finds by astronomical calculations that there was an eclipse on that date, that it came close to the hour that Ptolemy states, and that the stated amount of shadowing is also close to correct. This agreement between Ptolemy and modern astronomy happens not just once but seven times.

The historian or chronologist naturally concludes that there is overwhelming evidence confirming the accuracy of Ptolemy's king list, and he proceeds to use it as the basis for Babylonian chronology. Yet there is no evidence at all. The key point is that there may have been no Babylonian record at all. Ptolemy certainly fabricated many of the aspects of the lunar eclipses, and he may have fabricated all of them. When he fabricated them, it did not matter whether he used a correct king list or not. Any king list he used, regardless of its accuracy, would seem to be verified by eclipses.

For example, according to Ptolemy's king list, Ilulaeus reigned for 5 years and his successor Mardokempad reigned for 12. Suppose that Ptolemy's list had omitted Mardokempad but assigned 17 years to Ilulaeus. Instead of putting an eclipse in the 1st year of Mardokempad, Ptolemy would put the same eclipse in the 6th year of Ilulaaeus. From the altered list, we would still establish that the eclipse was on -720 March 19, and we would still have the same apparent verification of the king list.

It follows that Ptolemy's king list is useless in the study of chronology, and that it must be ignored. What is worse, much Babylonian chronology is based upon Ptolemy's king list. All relevant chronology must now be reviewed and all dependence upon Ptolemy's list must be removed" (Newton, 1977, pp. 372-375, my ephasis).

cp148 Newton goes on to say that "the later part of his king list has independent verification" because two cuneiform tablets have been found that help to confirm the years of Nebuchadnezzar down to Darius in 522 BC. See CP3 of this paper where I discuss this evidence.

cp149 What we are showing you here is the dubiousness of Ptolemy's chronology or king list. I did not follow blindly his list because of the dubiousness of the list. I relied on independent evidence, especially cuneiform tablets that I have studied (see CP3).

Ptolemy's Eclipses: Calculated not Observed

cp150 As just partially documented above, in The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy (1977), R.R. Newton writes of Ptolemy fabricating data of so-called ecliptic observations, as far back as the 8th century B.C. Ptolemy used calculations rather than observation for his reported eclipses. Toomer and others disagreed on Newton's strong wording about Ptolemy's shortcomings. But even Toomer agrees that Ptolemy may have fudged on his figures. And Newton in his works definitely gives good evidence that Ptolemy cheated. However, D. Justin Schove in his Chronology of Eclipses and Comets says Newton, even if right, doesn't negate Ptolemy's work and that his canon and eclipses may still be good for historical dating:

  • "The genuineness of the observations reported by Ptolemy has long been suspect. R.R. Newton (The Origins of Ptolemy's Astronomical Parameters, 1982 ...) has examined the matter in detail. He concludes that Ptolemy 'fudged' the observations of the last three eclipses, passing off calculated quantities as observed quantities. However, this investigation, like earlier ones, is concerned with errors of minutes of time; the days and nights remain as we have stated them. Since the times given by Ptolemy, whatever their origin, seem never to be found more than 50 minutes in error, they are as accurate as any times one could hope for from a chronicler at this period, and their chronological usefulness is hardly affected at all" (p. 27; also see above, "Ptolemy's Chronology").

We already quoted from Newton disproof of Schove's idea (See cp256, "Calculations Does Not Authenticate King's List").

cp151 "For the purposes of the present work, what matters mainly is that the dates are certain (having been confirmed by the calculations of numerous astronomers down the ages)..." (p. 25). Notice these dates or observations are "confirmed by the calculations." Some of Ptolemy's data are only minutes away from modern retrocalculation, but some are 28 hours away and even weeks away (see Newton, [1977], pp. 87, 95, etc.; Toomer, pp. 138, 469). And some like the 721 and 720 BC eclipses reported by Ptolemy may never have occurred because the earth may have changed its course since then (see CP3, "Astronomical Chaos"). In Newton's study he has found that Ptolemy's older eclipses are questionable, and most if not all were "fabricated" (Newton, 1977, p. 344-345).

Newton v. Thiele

cp152 Edwin R. Thiele disagrees with Newton and calls Newton's criticism of Ptolemy a "vicious attack" (The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 1983, p.72, footnote #14). Thiele, as we have seen previously, is an author of a chronological system that attempts to synthesize secular and Biblical chronologies, but in fact he changes and "corrects" the Biblical chronology. Thiele thinks he needs Ptolemy to be correct, or his chronology falls apart. This is one reason Thiele calls Newton's critique of Ptolemy a "vicious attack."

cp153 The following examples in (2), (3), and (4) were taken from Babylonian Chronology (1971 printing) unless otherwise noted.

2: Juggling of Economic Texts

cp154 Juggling of economic texts from one king to another or one year to another is an additional problem for secular chronology for the period 626 BC to 75 AD:

  • (A) "9There remains some question as to whether or not this tablet is correctly placed, as the king's name is not mentioned.." (p. 4, footnote #9).
  • (B) "10A broken text ... Kugler, SSB II 418, argued that on the basis of elimination this text probably belongs to Nebuchadnezzar; other possibilities were Xerxes, Artaxerxes I, or Artaxerxes II... Since the Addaru II attributed to Xerxes' 5th year in our first edition is now known to belong instead to the 5th year of Artaxerxes l (see below), the present text can fit very nicely in the 4th year of Xerxes, and we have transferred it there" (p. 4-5, footnote 10).
  • (C) "No king given, but tablet apparently belongs here" (p. 5).
  • (D) "16This text was first assigned to Xerxes by Dr. Cameron, but after further study he gives it to Artaxerxes I on the basis of content and seal impression" (p. 8, footnote 16).
  • (E) "4'We have no published cuneiform records from Alexander the Great; those formerly so attributed come from the reign of his son of the same name.' " (p. 19, footnote 4, quoted by Parker and Dubberstein from Olmstead, Classical Philology, 1937)
  • (F) "The dates given by Strassmaier in ZA, IV, pp. 145ff ... and in his Nabuchodonosor, No.1 (B.M. 75321), where he reads ITU.SU, are wrong for in each case ITU.DU is written clearly. This error has resulted in the latter text being wrongly assigned to Nebuchadrezzar III.." (Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings, p. 85, note for line 11 of B.M. 21946).

3: Reading Dates into Clay Tablets

cp155 Reading dates into the clay tablets and suppressing or changing evidence is a third problem with secular chronology:

  • (A) "Broken date read as 11th year by Kruckmann, but must be read 12th on basis of known materials" (p. 7).
  • (B) "Broken date ... must be read as '3' on basis of known intercalated months" (p. 7).
  • (C) "By addition of one wedge the year may be read either as '3' or as '12,' or by omission of one wedge it may be read as '1.' Error of either scribe or copyist is evident. Reading as '3' seems preferable to us" (p. 7, footnote 12).
  • (D) "Possible dates for this letter are year 2 or 9 of Cyrus or year 3 of Cambyses" (p. 2).
  • (E) "A collation by Sachs and Wiseman has shown that the text from Sippar (Strassmaier, loc. cit.) thought to be from the 4th month is correctly to be dated VII/__/acc. [7th month]" (p.12).
  • (F) "... line 19 reads VI/6/18 ... year 18 is impossible, so we assume either a scribal error or an error by Contenau" (p. 13). This 18th year pertained to Nabonidus, king of Babylon.
  • (G) "Clay in BE X, page 2, suggests that the last date may incorporate a scribal error, in view of the evidence for the beginning of the reign of Darius II given below... Since there seems to be some confusion, the date from the unpublished text cannot be used" (p. 18).

cp156 In A. K. Grayson's, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, the supposed last year of the Babylonian king Nabonidus was added or "restored" to the text (Grayson, p. 109 note for line 5). The last year of king Nabonidus is restored as his 17th year apparently because Ptolemy's list of kings has 17 years for Nabonidus. There is at least one clay tablet that mentions Nabonidus's 18th year (Contenau, see "F" above). In the Uruk King List it has "[x] + 15 years" for Nabonidus (James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East Supplementary Texts and Pictures Relating to the Old Testament, 1969, p.566; for more see below).

cp157 Wiseman in his Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings also projects to us juggling of text and the changing of text:

  • Concerning British Museum tablet # 21901, "iqbiuma. The word, with the sign -bi, is written clearly. J. Lewy, MVAG, 1924, p. 82 reads ik-kas-sam-ma... Landsberger-Bauer (ZA, XXXVII (N.F.3), P. 85) object to both readings and propose ik-sur (!)-u-ma" (p. 80). This word was "written clearly," yet scholars still changed the word.
  • "This restoration is suggested by Oppenheim.." (p. 80).
  • "The restoration of this line is very uncertain" (p. 81).
  • "Restoration suggested by Lewy... but only the final MES is legible.." (p. 81).
  • "The name, as restored by Gadd (FN, P. 35, n. 2), must have occurred in this line" (p. 82).

Concerning B.M. 21946:

  • "This is only one of several possible restorations.." (p. 84).

4: 77 Years of Missing Evidence

cp158 77 years of missing evidence for secular chronology is a fourth and major problem:

  • "There is no evidence from contemporary business documents for the years 17 to 19 of Darius II, nor are there dated tablets from the accession year of Artaxerxes II ... The length of the kings' reigns from here on are established chiefly by use of the well known Ptolemaic Canon" (p. 18, emphasis added).

cp159 There is no evidence that Artaxerxes II followed Darius II because there are no economic texts at the end of Darius II nor the beginning of Artaxerxes II. The Artaxerxes II is only recognized as king in 404 BC, that is, recognized because of the Ptolemaic Canon states there is a Artaxerxes after Darius II. But in fact the texts attributed to Artaxerxes II may be texts for Artaxerxes I.

cp160 The lack of economic or business texts was blamed by Olmstead in his History of the Persian Empire on "linguistic decay" rather than on a faulty chronology:

  • "No monarch after Darius the Great had attempted a long composition, much less an autobiography. The language of Xerxes' much fewer inscriptions shows the beginning of linguistic decay, and the rare official records from the fourth century indicate almost complete ignorance of grammatical structure.... But an almost complete break in the series of administrative and business documents at the middle of the fourth century implies that its use was more and more confined to the learned" (p. 480).

We also see that other forms of writing mysteriously disappeared during this period.

cp161 Grayson in his Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles speaks of the "complete absence of texts" for this period of Persian rule (p.23). The Persians themselves have no record of the length of kings, or a list of kings for this period. It is because of this "linguistic decay" that the chronology of the period of Artaxerxes II and III, and Darius III is dubious.

cp162 The various systems of Egyptian chronology (Africanus & Eusebius) do not show a Artaxerxes II ruling Egypt after Darius II, but does show a 47 to 64+ years between Darius II and Ochus (Artaxerxes III) when Egypt was ruled by the so-called Dynasties XXVIII-XXX (Budge, The Book of the Kings of Egypt, pp lxxi-lxxii).

cp163 In Flavius Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, book XI, chapter VII, according to the contemporary view, Josephus omits the rest of the kings after Artaxerxes II (the "another" Artaxerxes, chapter VII) up until Darius III. But if Ptolemy's king list is wrong, then Josephus did not really omit these kings because they never existed, or more likely because of the lack of historical evidence for this period. The word flow of this part of Josephus's work does not suggest there were any kings between Josephus's "Artaxerxes" of chapter VI and "Darius, the last king" of chapter VII. The "another" of "another Artaxerxes" in chapter VII was probably added to the original text by those who, mistakenly or not, thought that there was another Artaxerxes after Artaxerxes I.

cp164 There are NO contemporary cuneiform documents to confirm the reign of Artaxerxes III, Arses, and Darius III (see pp. 18-19). The quote by Olmstead in his History of the Persian Empire (p. 437) where king Ochus is identified with king Artaxerxes III is of little value since this is quoted from Smith's Babylonian Historical Texts (pp. 148ff) which said the text was corrected or "which after collation reads." Smith took this from Strassmaier but does not tell us who made the collation, himself or Strassmaier. The text as quoted by Smith does not identify this king Ochus as Artaxerxes III, but just "Artaxerxes." This Artaxerxes could have been Artaxerxes I. Furthermore, Smith does not say if in the "collation" of the source text(s) that Artaxerxes was added to the text so as to help identify king Ochus. Smith does not give enough detail for us to make an intelligent decision.

Persian Chronology Dubious

cp165 I do not know the chronology of this period of the Persian empire because of the lack of sufficient cuneiform texts that mention the supposed later kings of the Persian empire, because the Bible does not give any clear evidence for the kings of this period, and because others, like Ptolemy, have been caught in some fudging of calculations and observations. All this evidence throws a negative light on Ptolemy's list of kings for this period.

Absolute Dates and Edwin R. Thiele

cp166 Points (1) to (4) should cast an enormous shadow on anyone claiming to have an absolute date based primarily on Ptolemy's Canon. Furthermore, absolute dates based on vague reports of astronomical phenomena, especially reports of only one eclipse or one planet position, are dubious as we saw in the previous section. [cp192] But Notice the claim made by Edwin R. Thiele:

  • "Two eclipses [621 & 568 BC] establish beyond question 605 as the year when Nebuchadnezzar began his reign. The first took place on April 22, 621, in the fifth year of Nabopolassar, which would make 605 the year of his death in his twenty-first year, and the year of Nebuchadnezzar's accession. The second eclipse was on July 4, 568, in the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, which again gives 605 as the year when Nebuchadnezzar began to reign. No date in ancient history is more firmly established than 605 for the commencement of Nebuchadnezzar's reign" (A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, p. 69).

cp167 In part Thiele is wrong, but, in part, he is right. 605 BC is not an absolute date, it is a secondary date or a date found indirectly through an absolute date. 605 BC is when Nebuchadnezzar took over reign as sole king after his father died. It is his accessional year. The date 605 BC is found indirectly only by subtracting the years of Nebuchadnezzar's regnal years. His official reign, according to the cuneiform tablets called the Babylonian Chronicle and the astronomical clay tablet dated in Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year (568-567 BC), began in 604 BC in the Spring (see Notes CP 4).

cp168 The so-called eclipse of 621 BC is found only in Ptolemy's Almagest (G.J. Toomer, p. 253). But the eclipse of 568 BC was found reported on a cuneiform tablet for the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar. Also on this tablet were reports of other astronomical data. It is the other astronomical data (along with the eclipse) that dates this tablet and helps to prove that Nebuchadnezzar began his official sole reign in 604 BC, while his accessional year began in 605 BC. A single eclipse by itself cannot date an event (see CP3 for more detail on the 37th year tablet).

Nabonidus' 18th Year

cp169 The date 539 B.C. for the fall of Babylon is incorrect because the date 539 BC was deduced from the date 605 by adding the supposed total of the reigns of the kings who reigned from 605:

  • "1 The date 539 for the Fall of Babylon has been reckoned from the latest dates on the contracts of each king in this period, counting from the end of Nabopolassar's reign in 605 B.C., viz., Nebuchadrezzar, 43: Amel-Marduk, 2: Nergal-shar-usur, 4: Labashi-Marduk (accession only): Nabonidus, 17 = 66 (Clay, Pennsylv. Bab. Exp., Series A, VIII, 4. See also Pinches, T.S.B.A. VI, 486;" Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. III, 1929, p. 224, footnote 1).

The problem here is that there is proof that Nabonidus ruled into his 18th year.

cp170 The length of reigns for the kings during this period was taken primarily from Ptolemy's list of kings, but also from business clay tablets, from two astronomical clay tablets, from chronicle-like tablets, and from their interrelationship with Biblical texts (see CP2 & 3).

cp171 But the English translation of the Nabonidus Chronicle, that is, the text that shows when and how Nabonidus and Babylon fell, has the year of king Nabonidus in square brackets, with indicates that the text was "restored" (The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, [1958] Edited by James B. Pritchard, pp. 203-04, vi; see Smith's BHT, p. 117; and see Grayson, ABC, p. 109, note, iii 5). This means that the year for the fall of Babylon and thus the last year of the supposed last king of Babylon, king Nabonidus, was "restored" to the text by using the king's list of Ptolemy, since the last year of the king was either damaged or not in the original text. Of further interest is that the Uruk King List is damaged for the number of years for Nabonidus: "[x] + 15 years: Nabonidus" (Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, 1969, p.566 or 130). We therefore cannot use it to ascertain the total years of Nabonidus' reign.

cp172 Josephus says Nabonidus reigned 17 years, but Josephus also mistakenly said Evil-Merodach reigned 18 years when Ptolemy's Canon says he ruled 2 years (Antiquities of the Jews, book 10, chap. 11). "Again, the numbering of regnal years does not need to agree with history. Charles II of England actually became king on 29, May 1660, but his regnal years were counted from the death of Charles I on 30 January 1649. Ancient rulers, too, could for various reason antedate the beginning of their reigns. On the other hand, a disputed succession could confuse the scribes. Twelve years after the death of Philip Arrhidaeus, in 305 BC, a cuneiform document was dated: 'King Philip, year 19'" (Bickerman [1968], p. 90).

cp173 In a clay tablet found in Georges Contenau, Contrats Neo-Babyloniens, the date for the contract is the sixth month, sixth day, 18th year of Nabonidus (see above under, "Reading dates into..."). Sometimes when certain cities hadn't received word yet of the new king, or there was a revolt, they kept using the would-be year of the old king until it was clear who was in power (Parker & Dubberstein, p. 11, 18, 20). But the fact that this clay tablet recorded Namonidus ruling into his sixth month of his 18th year makes this very unlikely. The 16th day in the seventh month (Tashritu) was the time Babylon fell according to the Nabonidus Chronicle. Thus the last known recorded date of the reign of Nabonidus fits the supposition that Nabonidus may have reigned into his 18 year. There is also at least one other tablet that has Nebonidus ruling after the traditional date for the fall of Babylon (10th day 8th month 17th year, Parker & Dubberstein, p.13).

cp174 In Wiseman's Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (p. 2), his chart indicates there are no chronicle tablets for the years 11 to 43 of the reign of Nebuchadrezzar II, or Amel-Marduk's reign, or several years of Neriglissar's reign, or the reign of the supposed king Labasi-Marduk. Of course the Bible gives evidence for Nebuchadrezzar's latter years as well as the beginning of Amel-Markuk's reign (see CP3). And there are reported to be economic texts for some of these missing years of the chronicle of the Chaldean kings (Parker and Dubberstein, pp. 12-13).

Nabonidus' Mother's Memorial Tablet

cp175 Two copies of a memorial tablet, one of poor quality found in 1906 and one in much better condition found in 1956, that were written in part by/for the mother of Nabonidus, give the same length of reigns as Ptolemy's list of kings for the years of Nabopolassar through the 9th year of Nabonidus, the year she died (James B. Pritchard, Ed., The Ancient Near East: Supplementary Texts and Pictures Relating to the Old Testament, 1969, pp. 560-561 [pp. 124-125]). Contrary to what some writers like Velikovsky think (Ramses II..., p. 111 ff), it may have been common practice to have more than one memorial stelae or tablet as it was the case when kings built or restored temples. When kings restored or built temples or other important buildings they made several tablets and spread them around the foundations so that future generations would know who built it:

  • "The face of the wall was smoothly rendered with mud plaster; much of this had fallen away and we very soon cleared off the rest, for beneath the plaster there was a dramatic discovery to be made. At regular intervals of 2 feet there appeared the small rounded heads of clay 'nails' driven into the mud mortar between the brick courses; these were 'foundation-cones' and on the "nail's" stem was the inscription... Such cones were familiar enough as objects on museum shelves, but now for the first time we saw them in position just as the builders had set them four thousand years before. That they should be found in situ is of course most important scientifically, for we not only learn that a particular king built a particular temple, but ...." "Hidden in the brickwork of the top stage of the tower he found, at each angle of it, cylinders of baked clay on which were long inscriptions giving the history of the building" (Ur of the Chaldees [1982], pp. 140, 142, see pp. 105-07, 155-61, 227).

cp176 This clay tablet by the mother of Nabonidus does not give the total length of Nabonidus' reign. Daniel doesn't give the total years of this king either, but tells us it was in the kingship of Belshazzar when Babylon was destroyed (Dan 5:1-31). Belshazzar's co-kingship with Nabonidus is implied by comparing Daniel 5:1 with BM 35382, the Nabonidus Chronicle.

(see Grayson ABC, pp. 106-108, "prince"; Smith, BHT, p. 116, "Crown Prince"; and Grayson & Redford, Papyrus and Tablet, p. 120, "the prince, Belshazzar." "Belshazzar" is not in this text, but through restoration is put there by Grayson; see Velikovsky, Ramses II, p. 105, note 5; and see Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar; see CP5: Notes)

And this co-kingship of Belshazzar and Nabonidus is further proven by comparing some letters with the Nabonidus Chronicle (see CP5, Notes).

cp177 Through Biblical scripture we can ascertain that there were 70 years between Nebuchadnezzar's co-kingship with his father and the Fall of Babylon (see CP5 years 3386-3455 YM for more details on the 70 years and on Nabonidus' 18th year).


Secular Chronology: Other Problems

Cuneiform Tablets: Excavation and Publication

cp178 "Many an excavation, if not all, had to be stopped before completion or had to restrict itself from the very beginning to a few trenches crossing the ruin in the hope of getting a general insight into the character of the stratification.... Until 1951 not for a single astronomical or mathematical text was its provenance established by excavation. The only apparent exceptions are a number of multiplication tables from Nippur or Sippar but nobody knows where these texts were found in the ruins. Consequently it is, e.g., completely impossible to find out whether these texts came from a temple, a palace, a private house, etc. Not even the stratum is known to give us a more accurate date of the texts.... Thus we are left with the texts alone and must determine their origin form internal evidence, which is often very difficult to interpret...."

cp179 "The Mesopotamian soil has preserved tablets for thousands of years. This will not be the case in our climate. Many tablets are encrusted with salts... A change in moisture produces crystals which break the surface of the tablets, thus rapidly obliterating the writing. I have seen "tablets" which consisted of dust only, carefully kept in showcases.... Many thousands of tablets have been acquired at high cost by big and small collections only to be destroyed without ever being read or recorded in any way."

cp180 "The publication of tablets is a difficult task in itself. First of all, one must find the texts which concern the specific field in question. This is by no means trivial. Only minute fractions of the holdings of collections are catalogued.... I would be surprised if a tenth of all tablets in museums have ever been identified in any kind of catalogue."

cp181 "Tablets are often inscribed not only on both sides but also on the edges. Only multiple photographs taken with variable directions of light would suffice. Thus cost and actual need have resulted in the practice of hand copies."

cp182 "The ideal method of publication would be, of course, direct copying from the text. In practice this is often excluded by the scattering of directly related material all over the world. Even with great experience a text cannot be correctly copied without an understanding of its contents.... Thus repeated collation, joining with other fragments, and comparison with other texts are needed. It requires years of work before a small group of a few hundred tablets is adequately published. And no publication is "final". Invariably a fresh mind will find the solution of a puzzle which escaped the editor, however obvious it might seem afterwards" (cp286-290 taken from: O. Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, 2nd Ed., Dover 1969 edition, pp. 59-62).

Roman Historical Gaps

cp183 "The ancient sources of information for certain periods of Roman Imperial history, notably the Third Century, are very poor .... Other periods are much better documented, and I have in the main followed such learned works as the Cambridge Ancient History and the Cambridge Medieval History" (p. 6, The Emperors of Rome and Byzantium, by David R. Sear, Seaby Ltd, London).

cp184 The problem with using these Cambridge historical works for chronology is that their chronological charts have few if any documentation to back up their dates. An unknown number of dates are merely educated guesswork. Of course educated guesswork is better than no chronology.

Era of the Olympiads Rarely Used

cp185 "The old era of Olympiads appears only to have been used by writers, and especially by historians. It does not seem to have been ever adopted by any state in public documents. It is never found on any coins, and scarcely ever on inscriptions.

cp186 A new era of Olympiads however came into use under the Roman Emperors which is found on inscriptions and was used in public documents. This era begins in Ol. 227.3., in which year Hadrian dedicated the Olympieion at Athens..." (Bond, p. 192; also see Samuel and Bickerman's books concerning chronology).

Era of the Foundation of Rome

cp187 "Great doubts have been entertained by historians and chronologists respecting this era" (Bond, p. 195; see CP3).

Public Documents in England

cp188 "Public documents in England, from the time of Richard the First, down to the present day, have been usually dated with the year of the reign of the sovereign, and not with the year of our Lord" (Bond, p. 273).

No Zero Year: Historical v. Astronomical Dating

cp189 "In the historical dating of events there is no year A.D. 0. The year immediately previous to A.D. 1 is always called B.C. 1. This must always be borne in mind in reckoning chronological and astronomical intervals. The sum of the nominal years B.C. and A.D. must be diminished by 1. Thus, from Jan. 1, B.C. 4713 to Jan 1, A.D. 1582, the years elapsed are not 6295, but 6294" (Bond, p. 321).

cp190 In Astronomical dating there is a year 0 and the BC dates are always one short of the historical dating system. Normally, astronomical dates are marked with a minus sign ("-") in front of the date -- "-4." And -4 equals 5 B.C. But because some do not understand the difference between the astronomical and the Christian Era system sometimes writers put -4 when they mean 4 B.C. To be correct they should write -3 to indicate 4 B.C (also see Finegan [1964], 221).

Observed or Calculated Data?

cp191 "Very often it is difficult to decide whether text data were observed or calculated. We know from the diaries of later times that missing observations were filed in by calculation, sometimes without explicit indication of the fact, sometimes with the note 'not observed,' sometimes with a note that the observation gave a different result. In the case of Sirius phenomena an investigation by A. Sachs has shown that calculation was the rule, even when the statement 'not observed' is missing" (Science Awakening II: The Birth of Astronomy, by Bartel L. vander Waerden, p. 101, quoted by Rose in Kronos, Vol IV, No. 2).

cp192 "... the dates when a planet enters a zodiacal sign are recorded. These texts are based on computations, not on observations, as in evident from the fact that entrances into a zodiacal sign are also noted when the planet is in conjunction with the sun, this being invisible."

cp193 "... one had to assume an extremely high visibility for the horizon in Babylon in order to cover all recorded cases, not realizing that these records contained invisible and visible risings alike" (pp. 90 & 132, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, by Otto Neugebauer, quoted from Rose in Kronos, Vol IV, No. 2).

cp194 In The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy (1977) R.R. Newton speaks of Ptolemy fabricating data of so-called ecliptic observations, as far back as the 8th century B.C. Ptolemy in many cases used his inaccurate calculations to locate supposed observations of eclipses.

cp195 Also see Robert R. Newton's Ancient Planetary Observations and the Validity of Ephemeris Time where he shows other examples of ancient astronomical tablets that in part were calculations and not observations ("goal-year texts," pp. 104ff, 128).

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