Eratosthenes and the Trojan War

26 Sep 2014

At NewChronology [at] yahoo [dot] group [dot] com ... the dating of the Olympiad is being discussed as presented by Shaw in her book, 'Discrepancies in Olympiad Dating and Chronological Problems of Archaic Peloponessian History' (2003) which was reviewed by G Huxley, somewhat unfavourably, at 'The Classical Review' 56 (2006) and 'Hermathena' 184 (2008).

Nikos Kokkinos, 'Ancient Chronography, 'Eratosthenes and the Dating of the Fall of Troy' an article in Ancient West and East 8 (2009) page 37-56 claims it is possible to work out how Eratosthenes in 220BC arrived at a date for the fall of Troy in 1183BC. This date developed into a universal reference point in antiquity - and is still regarded as authoritative. He combined information from Manetho with Timaeus, Ctesias, Herodotus, and other similar sources and shuffled the evidence to arrive at a compromise that was halfway between two extremes - or there abouts. It was high enough to satisfy Hellenistic cultural interests and low enough to satisfy Alexandrian scholars. What was originally an event date to the 10th century BC but later revised, via rivalry, to the 14th century BC, ended up in the 12th century - and subsequently went on to influence and play a misleading role in the modern debate on the Greek archaeological dark age. Shaw had made some interesting adjustments to Greek chronology and Kokkinos theory would appear to support them. A 10th century Fall of Troy might not suit some of the current revisions of history making waves at SIS but in the long haul this may prove somewhat significant.

Chronology also rears its head at ... as a scarab with the name of Shoshenk I has been found at a copper producing site in Faynan District, 50km south of the Dead Sea. It was at its most active in the EB period (third millennium BC) but evidence of more recent smelting was found by Nelson Glueck, dating to the Iron Age. Unfortunately the find, as with a lot of scarabs, was not found in an archaeological context. It was picked up from the ground by a student who was part of a team that have recently claimed the site was King Solomon's source of copper and therefore dates to the 10th century BC. Conveniently, or otherwise, a scarab of Shoshenk I would support a 10th century date - but it does make you wonder why it was just lying there on the ground. The answer of course is that scarabs are small affairs and it was overlooked - or that is the official press release. In the 1980s archaeologists had dated the copper workings to the 7th century BC - but in 2008 a PNAS paper contradicted them and claimed smelting and copper mining was taking place in the 10th century. This is another episode in the endless saga of claim and counter claim caused by the dark age at the end of the Late Bronze period. A revision that reduces such a dark age, as suggested in the New Chronology discussion (above) would presumably redate what is said to be 10th century to somewhat later - 9th or 8th century (perhaps), or even a return to the 7th century date.