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New Chronology Conundrum

16 May 2013
Ancient history

Bob Porter, SIS member and New Chronology advocate, writing archaeological updates for our journal (usually in Review) has made a reply at NewChronology [at] yahoogroups [dot] com which has some interesting repercussions. He refers to two papers on Emar, a town on the Euphrates to the south of Carchemish (in the Bronze Ages), concerning the interpretation of the archives (clay tablets). The first paper, by Cohen and d'Alfonso, has the kings of Emar come to an end in 1240BC with the ZaBala family ending some 65 years later, which doesn't appear to make a lot of sense as the demise of Emar coincided with events that brought the Late Bronze Age to an end. The second paper, by Yamuda, moves the kings recorded at Emar downwards so that they came to an end at the same time as the ZaBala family – which does make sense (see 'The Chronology of the Emar Texts Reviewed' in Orient 48, 2013). Bob Porter suggests the final texts at Emar relate to the demise of the city (the clay tablets preserved in the ruins) and both its kings and the ZaBala family ended at the same time, but this creates a problem in conventional chronology as one of the earlier tablets is dated to Meli Shipak, a king of Babylon currently dated to 1180BC. He pinpoints the problem in that Meli Shipak, and therefore Assyro-Babylonian chronology as a whole, are actually dated too late in relation to the Hittites. Bob suggests this requires knocking several decades out of Babylonian chronology between the Amarna period (and Burnaburiash II) and the Hittite king Suppiluliumas, thereby updating the reign of Meli Shipak. He says that 17 years can be removed from the 30 year reign of Adad shuma usur and various fiddlings such as that (slicing a few years here and there but in the process refuting the relevant king lists). However, there is another clue that he has missed. The whole Kassite dynasty in chronological relationship to the Egyptians and the Hittites appears to be skewed by at least 20 years – and possibly by more. The evidence for this comes from an EA letter by Burnaburiash to Akhnaton that refers to his forebear, namely Kurigalzu. Burnaburiash says that Kurigalzu was the first Kassite king of Babylonia to forge friendly relations with the pharaohs of Egypt – in this case, the 18th dynasty. It is a well known fact that after Thutmose III reduced southern Syria to vassalage by defeating the king of Mitanni that he sent out feelers in a diplomatic mission to secure friendship treaties with far flung nations that might otherwise align themselves with Mitanni. As such, Babylon came into the sphere of the Egyptian court and the Kassite king dispatched one of his daughters as a seal of friendship and alliance. This appears to have been Kurigalzu – but in conventional chronology he is not aligned with Thtumose III. Secondly, Burnaburiash also claims that said Kurigalzu remained loyal to Egypt, in spite of a rebellion that it was asked to join. This can only be the rebellion that broke out in Syria, fomented by Mitanni, in the first few years of the reign of Amenhotep II, son and successor of Thutmose III. As such, Bob is right but it is not just the period between Suppiluliumas and the end of the Hittites that requires adjustment – it is the Hittite kings as a whole and their Egyptian contemporaries that require updating. Now, the idea of updating the Egyptians compared to downdating them, as revisionists are fond to say, might seem counter productive – but works. In updating the Babylonians one is also forced to update the Assyrians – and another raft of links can be seen. For example, the raid by Shalmaneser I into Hittite territory (formerly that of Mitanni) can be seen to converge with the unhappy reign of Urhi Teshub, who suffered an unknown military embarrassment. He was deposed by his uncle Hattusilis III, a more successful military stratagist, and the Assyrians remained at home. Etc.

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