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Biblical War

5 September 2019

Archaeologists have invoked a Biblical war to explain a destruction layer – go to www.livescience.com/alter-tells-story-of-biblical-war.html … which is a projection. A 2800 year old inscribed altar stone found in a Moabite sanctuary in what is now the kingdom of Jordan, seems to shed some light on the conflict between Israel and Moab. The latter apparently rebelled against Israel, which had temporarily seized control of the Transjordan zone, under the Omride dynasty. Jehoshaphat of Judah led a great army, which included a large contingent of Edomites (also subjects of Israel at the time) but it seems to have gone pear shaped for what is an unknown reason. It seems to have involved a natural disaster, described as a 'great tribulation', and the King of Moab, one Mesha, sacrificed his eldest son to the local god, Chemosh. The archaeologists appear to assume the Moabites defeated Israel and her allies in a battle as Ataroth, a city controlled by Israel, which apparently included a loyal population (possibly related to Israelites from way back). That is the conjecture as Ataroth was clearly destroyed in a conflagration. An inscription on the altar, fragmentary and hard to understand, we are told, refers to 4000 foreigners scattered  – while another part of the inscription refers to 'the desolate city'. At the moment all we know is that Ataroth was totally destroyed – but we know nothing of any other settlement site in the region. If a succession of towns and villages also display the same evidence of a conflagration one would have to revise the idea that a human army of re-conquest had anything to do with it – and take a look at the possibility that some kind of natural disaster was responsible. If the latter and then we have to wonder if that catastrophic incident was what caused Mesha to sacrifice his eldest male offspring. In addition, was the natural disaster also responsible for causing the army commanded by Jehoshaphat to retreat (possibly even getting caught up in the event to the extent many of the troops were killed as well as the citizens of Ataroth. Was the same natural disaster also responsible for the subsequent disappearance of the Omrides and the elevation of Jehu (at Samaria) and Hazael (at Damascus).

At https://phys.org/news/2019-08-reveal-ancient-turkish-city-years.html … in this story we are told that excavations at Zincirli in what is now Turkey, a city conquered by the Hittites 3500 years ago, or thereabouts, has been found – and evidence of its burning (another prominent destruction layer). Charred ruins were uncovered by American archaeologists – and they came up with the bright idea, it must have been the early Hittite king Hattusilis I, that was responsibel. Was it instead, all part and parcel of the end of MB period, which Claude Schaeffer associated with an earthquake storm. Hattusilis I was active in North Syria, a region that somewhat later, in the |Iron Age, became associated with the Neo-Hittites. Actually, Zincirli is in central Anatolia, not too far from modern Ankara. A lot of pottery was uncovered (presumably MB wares) but the period defined is unmentioned in the press release. Some kind of upheaval occurred at this time as it caused the mass migration of Hurrians from the Transcaucasus region into northern Mesopotamia (where they remained throughout the Late Bronze era). More to say on this as the details emerge.

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