CP2: Secular Chronology
All About Eclipses
Secular Dates & Ptolemaic Canon
Juggling Economic Texts
Reading Dates into Texts
77 years of Missing Dates
Secular Chronology Before 626 BC is Dubious
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.
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
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
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).
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
(chap. IV, see pp 149ff; also see The Cambridge Ancient History, 3rd Ed. Vol. I, Part
4 , pp. 193-200; and see Rogers, Robert William A History of Babylonia and
Assyria, 2nd Ed., Vol I , 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:
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 , 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).
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
, 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 , 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
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:
(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,
- "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
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).
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
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
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
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.
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
(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,
, 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.
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
(L.W. King, The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi, 1900, pp. LXIX-LXX, AMS
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
"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
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
- "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).
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
(Handbook of Biblical Chronology , 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
- "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
- "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.
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
- "With regard to the magnitude, Fotheringham  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  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
- "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,
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
- "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
Types of 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).
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
- "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 ½ 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,
, 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 ½
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
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"
cp112» An example of this identification game in process is shown in, The
Story of Eclipses , 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
"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
"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
... 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
"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.
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.
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).
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  & XII:1 ). 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
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.
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 , p. 149 and The History of Babylonia and
Assyria, 2nd Ed. Vol 1 , 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
(3) reading or projecting or interpolating dates into clay tablets, or
(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
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
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
commentary on Ptolemy's
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).
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"
- "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
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  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
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, , 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
cp153» The following examples in (2), (3), and (4) were taken from
Babylonian Chronology (1971 printing) unless otherwise noted.
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).
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
- (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
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).
77 years of missing evidence for secular chronology is a fourth and
- "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,
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
- "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
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
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
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
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
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,
The problem here is that there is proof that Nabonidus ruled into his 18th
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,  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 , 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
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 , 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'
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
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
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,
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 , ¶ 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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