Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Did We Do Wrong? No, We Most Certainly Did Not

Caught this at National Geographic (K/T Shalem):-

The woman's name is Eilat Mazar. Munching and gazing, she is the picture of equanimity—until a tour guide shows up. He's a young Israeli man accompanied by a half dozen tourists who assemble in front of the bench so they can view the building. The moment he opens his mouth, Mazar knows what's coming. The tour guide is a former archaeology student of hers. She's heard how he brings tourists to this spot and informs them that this is NOT the palace of David and that all the archaeological work at the City of David is a way for right-wing Israelis to expand the country's territorial claims and displace Palestinians.

Mazar jumps up from the bench and marches over to the tour guide. She chews him out in a staccato of Hebrew, while he stares passively at her. The gaping tourists watch her stalk off.

"You really need to be strong," she mutters as she walks. "It's like everyone wants to destroy what you do." And then, more plaintively: "Why? What did we do wrong?"

The archaeologist gets into her car. She looks stricken. "I feel like I'm really getting sick from stress," she says. "I've lost years from my life."

We didn't do anything wrong but some archaeologists did.

Here's an extract further on there in the article:

The once common practice of using the Bible as an archaeological guide has been widely contested as an unscientific case of circular reasoning—and with particular relish by Tel Aviv University's contrarian-in-residence Israel Finkelstein, who has made a career out of merrily demolishing such assumptions. He and other proponents of "low chronology" say that the weight of archaeological evidence in and around Israel suggests that the dates posited by biblical scholars are a century off. The "Solomonic" buildings excavated by biblical archaeologists over the past several decades at Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo were not constructed in David and Solomon's time, he says, and so must have been built by kings of the ninth-century B.C.'s Omride dynasty, well after David and Solomon's reign.

During David's time, as Finkelstein casts it, Jerusalem was little more than a "hill-country village," David himself a raggedy upstart akin to Pancho Villa, and his legion of followers more like "500 people with sticks in their hands shouting and cursing and spitting—not the stuff of great armies of chariots described in the text.

"Of course we're not looking at the palace of David!" Finkelstein roars at the very mention of Mazar's discovery. "I mean, come on. I respect her efforts. I like her—very nice lady. But this interpretation is—how to say it?—a bit naive."

And how naive is Finkelstein?

Well, go to his own article here and on page 47 of the article you can read

The uncalibrated date for the destruction [of Shiloh], reported in conventional radiocarbon years, is 2873±13 BP. This date was obtained by a fit to a constant (see Fig. 1), assuming (for the sake of caution) that all these samples are contemporary, representing the destruction time. Using the 1998 calibration curve (Stuiver et al. 1998)2 by means of the 1999 OxCal v.3.3 computer program of Bronk Ramsey (1995) one gets a one standard deviation absolute date of 1050-1000 BCE (Table 1: 1–3, c=0.9), or 1050–975 (Table 1: 1–2, c2=0.2) for this destruction.

The years 1050-1000 BCE are the years of the end of the tribal federation, the kingship of Saul and the beginning of the Davidic dynasty. Exactly as the Biblical chronology maintains.

So, who is naive and who is right about the Bible narrative being supported by scientific evidence?

And on the next page there in Nat'l Geo:

Now it is Finkelstein's theory that is under siege. On the heels of Mazar's claim to have discovered King David's palace, two other archaeologists have unveiled remarkable finds. Twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem in the Elah Valley—the very spot where the Bible says the young shepherd David slew Goliath—Hebrew University professor Yosef Garfinkel claims to have unearthed the first corner of a Judaean city dating to the exact time that David reigned. Meanwhile, 30 miles south of the Dead Sea in Jordan, a University of California, San Diego professor named Thomas Levy has spent the past eight years excavating a vast copper-smelting operation at Khirbat en Nahas. Levy dates one of the biggest periods of copper production at the site to the tenth century B.C.—which, according to the biblical narrative, is when David's antagonists the Edomites dwelled in this region. (However, scholars like Finkelstein maintain that Edom did not emerge until two centuries later.) The very existence of a large mining and smelting operation fully two centuries before Finkelstein's camp maintains the Edomites emerged would imply complex economic activity at the exact time that David and Solomon reigned. "It's possible that this belonged to David and Solomon," Levy says of his discovery. "I mean, the scale of metal production here is that of an ancient state or kingdom."

Levy and Garfinkel—both of whom have been awarded grants by the National Geographic Society—support their contentions with a host of scientific data, including pottery remnants and radiocarbon dating of olive and date pits found at the sites. If the evidence from their ongoing excavations holds up, yesteryear's scholars who touted the Bible as a factually accurate account of the David and Solomon story may be vindicated.

As Eilat Mazar says with palpable satisfaction, "This is the end of Finkelstein's school."



Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

In fact, there are many quarrels between archeologists over dating, especially in the Middle East/Orient/eastern Mediterranean region. Immanual Velikovsky points out that dating outside Egypt in this region is commonly based by archeologists on the archeologically accepted or conventional chronology of Egypt. However, this chronology is not based on a continuing tradition but on surmises, conjectures, several varying king lists of ancient Egypt, astronomical considerations, etc. Such a background to the conventional chronology raises doubts about it. Yet Finkelstein's claim about ancient Israel and the time of David & Solomon is based on that unreliable chronology.

This dating system not only conflicts with history as expounded in the historical Biblical books, but it has evoked two opposed schools on the dating of the Trojan War and whether there was such a war.

Velikovsky's revised chronology for Egypt, relying more on the Assyrian annals and king lists, as well on the Bible and Greek writings, indicates that the Queen of Egypt who came to Solomon was Hatshepsut, who --Velikovsky argues-- is conventionally dated long before her real time. Likewise, Akhenaten is usually dated about 600 years too early.

In contrast to Velikovsky, Peter James, a British archeologist, and his colleagues think that the conventional Egyptian chronology is only some 300 years too early, not 600 years as Velikovsky argues. But they all agree that the conventional chronology is faulty. See the book of James et al, Centuries of Darkness.

The site at the link below was set up by Velikovsky's daughter to expound his theories. But it is only in Hebrew as of now.

yoni said...

great work mr. medad. kol ha kavod.