Is there a FAQ on Velikovsky, and how can I get it? There aren't really FAQs as such for t

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Is there a FAQ on Velikovsky, and how can I get it? There aren't really FAQs as such for the group, rather a number of people maintain files which address certain points. I haven't posted this in a while, so here is my file on Velikovsky's historical reconstruction. ============================================================================= INTRODUCTION In addition to rewriting physics, astronomy, geology, and evolutionary biology, Velikovsky also attempted to rewrite Near Eastern history. He believed that a significant error (several centuries) had been made in the reconstruction of Egyptian history, and attempted to present a revised chronology to support his views. It needs to be emphasized that this enterprise is not independent of his other theories -- if his attempts to resynchronize Egyptian and Palestinian chronology fail, then much of the supposed historical evidence for his theories of close planetary encounters evaporates as well. I have read all four of the AGES IN CHAOS series (AGES IN CHAOS, OEDIPUS AND AKHNATON, RAMSES II AND HIS TIMES, PEOPLES OF THE SEA) as well as WORLDS IN COLLISION and most of EARTH IN UPHEAVAL. To do a point by point examination of his works would probably take a comparable amount of time to their writing, i.e. years. There is little if any payoff in trying to do such a thing. His rewriting of Near Eastern history is not taken seriously by very many people (if it was, he wouldn't have had so much trouble trying to get C14 dating done on New Kingdom artifacts). Those who already buy into his theories tend to be "true believers" in much the same vein as Creationists, and are unlikely to be swayed by any amount of refutation. On the other hand, for those who may be unacquainted with Velikovsky and his theories, I've been accumulating a critique of his stuff which should establish that his theories are questionable. I won't spend any time on physics, geology, or astronomy, as there are a variety of critiques that cover those bases (see Sagan's in BROCA'S BRAIN, or Gould's brief critique in EVER SINCE DARWIN), although I will give you the opening paragraph of a pamphlet Velikovsky wrote called COSMOS WITHOUT GRAVITATION to give a flavor of his views on physics and astronomy: "The fundamental theory of this paper is: Gravitation is an electromagnetic phenomenon. There is no primary motion inherent in planets and satellites. Electric attraction, repulsion and electromagnetic circumduction govern their movements. The moon does not 'fall,' attracted to the earth from an assumed inertial motion along a straight line, nor is the phenomena of objects falling in the terrestrial atmosphere comparable to the 'falling effect' in the movement of the moon, a conjecture which is the basic element of the Newtonian theory of gravitation." I'm sure the people at NASA who use Newtonian dynamics and gravitation to send space probes to the outer solar system would be surprised to discover how lucky they've been that their bogus theories happen to work so well in practice. A brief critique of Velikovky's history, as well as a similar scheme by Donovan Courville, can be found in OUT OF THE DESERT? by William Stiebing in the chapter "Redating the Exodus and Conquest." See also the chapter on Velikovsky in _ANCIENT ASTRONAUTS, COSMIC COLLISIONS_ by the same author, which has a very good critique of V's use of the Amarna letters, his use of mythology, and some of the scientific critique. In general, Velikovsky's AGES IN CHAOS series is marred by a tendency to assume his conclusion in reading his sources, and to emphasize similarities (often out of context) while ignoring salient differences. In interpretting the Ipuwer papyrus as an Egyptian account of the plagues of Egypt, for instance, any detail that appears to match is claimed as evidence of similarity, while any difference in the situation described is written off as the effects in the aftermath of the Exodus. This is a long post. The points covered are: 1) Velikovsky's interpretation of the Ipuwer papyrus. 2) Velikovsky's identification of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon with Hatshepsut's expedition to Punt. 3) Velikovsky's identification of Nebuchednezzar with the Hittite ruler Hatusilis III. 4) Other comments about RAMSES II AND HIS TIMES. 5) Problems with Velikovsky's interpretations of mythical events as reflections of history. 6) Problems with Donovan Courville's similar realignment of Near Eastern chronology. 7) An extract from Stiebing's critique of Velikovsky's use of the Amarna letters. I. VELIKOVSKY'S INTERPRETATION OF THE IPUWER PAPYRUS AS AN ACCOUNT OF THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT. Page references are to AGES IN CHAOS, Doubleday, 1952. Velikovsky begins by posing the problem of dating the period of the Exodus, specifically asking where are the references to it in Egyptian records. As a first observation, it should be noted that he uses the Old Testament in a very sloppy way, considering any passage describing Divine disruption of nature as support for his theory. For instance, on page 20 he quotes Psalm 18:7-8, 15. Psalm 18 has David referring to himself in first person, so it can hardly be describing the Exodus. Similarly, he quotes Psalm 97 as a description of the Exodus, when there is nothing in the text of Psalm 97 referring to the Exodus. Velikovsky was convinced that he had found an Egyptian account of the plagues of Egypt in the Ipuwer papyrus. The translation I'm using can be found in THE LITERATURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT, ed. William Kelly Simpson, under the title "The Admonitions of a Egyptian Sage." On page 25 V. says: "The papyrus is a script of lamentations, a description of ruin and horror. "PAPYRUS 2:8 Forsooth, the land turns round as does a potter's wheel "2:11 The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry (wastes?) "3:13 All is ruin! "7:4 The residence is overturned in a minute. "4:2 ...Years of noise. There is no end to noise. "What do 'noise' and 'years of noise' denote? The translator wrote: 'There is clearly some play upon the word HRW (noise) here, the point of which is to us obscure.' Does it mean 'earthquake' and 'years of earthquake'? In Hebrew the word RAASH signifies 'noise,' 'commotion,' as well as 'earthquake.' Earthquakes are often accompanied by loud sounds, subterranean rumbling and roaring, and this acoustic phenomenon gives the name to the upheaval itself. "Apparently the shaking returned again and again, and the country was reduced to ruins, the state went into sudden decline, and life became unbearable." Apparently no such thing. Let's look at the context of two of the sentences he grabs out of the text in the above quote. Papyrus 2:11 reads "Indeed, the land turns round as does a potter's wheel; the robber is a possessor of riches and [the rich man is become] a plunderer." In other words, this is a "wheel of fate" image, and is not referring to any sort of earthquake. Looking at 7:1 to 7:4, in context that quote reads "Behold, things have been done which have not happened for a long time past; the king has been deposed by the rabble. Behold he who was buried as a falcon (footnote: the dead king) of biers, and what the pyramid concealed (footnote: the sarcophagus) has become empty. Behold, it has fallen that the land has been deprived of the kingship by a few lawless men. Behold, men have fallen into rebellion against the Uraeus (footnote: the cobra-symbol of loyalty), the [...] of Re, even she who makes the Two Lands content. Behold, the secret of the land whose limits were unknown is divulged, and the Residence is thrown down in a moment." In other words, in context it appears that the phrase is a figure of speech much like the English phrase "a palace revolution" which does not imply a spinning chateau. You may be wondering what an earthquake has to do with the plagues of Egypt. Well, it's V's claim that this was the origin of the Slaying of the Firstborn, "firstborn" being a scribal error for a word meaning "chosen". On page 30 he says: "The residence of the king and the palaces of the rich were tossed to the ground, and with them the houses of the common people and the dungeons of the captives. EXODUS 12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon. PAPYRUS 4:3, also 5:6 Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls. 6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets. The sight of the children of princes smashed on the pavement of the dark streets, injured and dead amid the ruins, moved the heart of the Egyptian eyewitnesses. No one saw the agony in the dungeon, a pit in the ground where prisoners were locked in, when it was filled by landslides. Papyrus 6:3 The prison is ruined (footnote: In his notes to another passage Gardiner translates 'storehouse' as 'prison.')" This is all sheer fantasy on Velikovsky's part. Wrt 4:3 I would remind people of the ancient custom of killing children in a sack by bashing their heads against a convenient nearby surface. "Happy is he who bashes the heads of their babies against the rocks," to quote the Psalmist. 6:12 is referring to a state of anarchy in which public records are cast into the street and the children of nobles are dispossessed. His pulling of 6:3 out of context is particularly outrageous. Here is the text of 6:1-5: "Indeed, [men eat] herbage and wash down with water; neither fruit not herbage can be found the birds, and [...] is taken away from the mouth of the pig. No face is bright which you have <...> (footnote: verb omitted) |for| me |through| hunger. Indeed, everywhere barley has perished and men are stripped of clothes, |spice,| and oil; everyone says: 'There is none.' THE STOREHOUSE IS EMPTY (my emphasis -- kck) and its keeper is stretched on the ground; a happy state of affairs!" It is not the prison which is in ruin due to an earthquake, it is the storehouse which is in ruin (i.e., empty in this translation) due to a famine. On page 28, in 6:1 Velikovsky sees a reference to the plague of locusts from Exodus. Unfortunately, according to Ipuwer the source of the famine is a failure to farm due to the state of anarchy in the land. Page 211-212 "Indeed, the plunderer [...] everywhere, and the servant takes what he finds. Indeed, the Nile overflows, yet none plow for it. Everyone says: 'We do not know what will happen throughout the land.'" I invite anyone who cares to to read the translation of the papyrus, Exodus, and chapter one of AGES IN CHAOS for themselves if they still have any doubts as to Velikovsky's use of fantasy to force the Ipuwer account to fit his theory. II. VELIKOVSKY'S INTERPRETATION OF THE PUNT RELIEFS AS AN ACCOUNT OF THE VISIT OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA TO SEE SOLOMON. In a later chapter of AGES IN CHAOS titled "The Queen of Sheba," Velikovsky argues for an identification of Queen Hatshupset with the Queen of Sheba. He argues that the reliefs in her temple at Deir el Bahari depicting an expedition to "Punt" in fact show the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. The Biblical account of the visit of the Queen of Sheba is brief, and is contained in I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9. I'm using the same translation of the Punt reliefs as V., Breasted's RECORDS, vol II, pp 102-122. The Biblical account clearly mentions the purpose of the visit of the Queen of Sheba: "When the Queen of Sheba heard about the renown of Solomon, she came to test Solomon with perplexing questions." The Punt reliefs clearly mention the purpose of the expedition to Punt:"...a command was heard from the great throne, an oracle of the god himself, that the ways to Punt should be searched out, that the highways to the Myrrh- terraces should be penetrated: 'I will lead the army on water and on land, to bring marvels from God's-Land for this god, for the fashioner of her beauty.'...PROMISES OF AMON...'No one trod the Myrrh-terraces, which the people knew not; it was heard of from mouth to mouth by hearsay of the ancestors--. The marvels brought thence under thy fathers, the Kings of Lower Egypt, were brought from one to another, and since the time of the ancestors of the Kings of Upper Egypt, who were of old, as a return for many payments (footnote: Meaning that in going from hand to hand many successive prices were paid); non reaching them except thy carriers. But I will cause thy army to tread them, I have led them on land and on water, to explore the waters of inaccessible channels, and I have reached the Myrrh-terraces.'" Compare Breasted's description in paragraph 254 of the gifts sent by Hatshupset with the gifts sent by the Queen of Sheba in the Biblical account. There is no mention of the King of Punt in the Punt reliefs, no mention of anything other than the valuable goods brought back and the reestablishment of the knowledge of the location of Punt. If the Queen specifically went to test Solomon, and was as impressed by him as the Bible reports, why is there no mention of their meeting in the relief? In addition, Velikovsky's claim that Hatshepsut went along on the expedition rests on weak ground, both from the passages he cites as evidence and the political circumstances. On page 116 he says, "The queen herself is not shown on a ship. This is in accord with the rules of Egyptian art: the Egyptian artist did not paint a royal person among the common people...Queen Hatshupset was portrayed beside the ships, and her figure was taller than the masts. Of course, a figure that tall could not have been placed on deck." If V. is here referring to the figure of Hatshupset in the area Breasted labels VII in his diagram next to the ships returning to Egypt in area V, that figure of the queen is shown offering the goods brought back to Amon -- there is no connection with the ships. Also, it is hard to understand why the chiefs of Punt would have gone to Egypt to present Hatshupset with their gifts if she was on the expedition. (Breasted, page 110). Velikovsky asks on page 177 "If it were an ordinary commercial expedition to Punt, why should the records have perpetuated it so elaborately and with such pomp?" The answer is simple -- it wasn't an ordinary commercial expedition. Goods from Punt were only available from intermediaries who weren't eager to lose their profits by letting the Egyptians know the source of the goods. The expedition reopened the direct trade link. Also on page 117 V. says "Queen Hatshupset undertook the journey like a devout pilgrim who, hearing an inner bidding, takes staff in hand: '...a command was heard from the great throne, an oracle of the god himself..."I will lead the army on water and on land, to bring marvels..."'". Note that V. quotes this as though it is the Queen saying "I will lead the army" -- it isn't, it is the god Amon, as is shown by the echoing of the words in paragraph 288. In fact, in paragraph 290 the relief is quoted as saying "Behold, it was commanded, as follows: 'They shall give the court, Life! Prosperity! Health!, to the hereditary prince, count, wearer of the royal seal, sole companion, chief treasurer, Nehsi, to dispatch the army [to] Punt." Odd that Nehsi would be ordered to dispatch the army to Punt if the Queen herself were heading the expedition. (A footnote points out that Nehsi may not have actually made the voyage to Punt himself, for that matter, simply accompanying the ships to the seashore.) Also, keep in mind that Hatshupset ruled jointly with Thutmose III, who hated her so much that after her death he defaced her monuments and desecrated the tombs of a number of her officials. So uncomfortable was the notion of a woman on the throne that Hatshupset is depicted as a man in many artworks of her reign. It seems to me that going on an exploratory expedition of unknown length while leaving Thutmose back in Egypt wouldn't have been very bright, and makes Velikovsky's theory even more untenable. There is also at least one example of Velikovsky making a questionable citation. He says "Since the great cataclysm [he refers here to his theory in WORLDS IN COLLISION], when the maritime nations were lost together with their ships, daring ventures had been few and far between. For a long time the Atlantic Ocean was agitated by tectonic ruptures in a sinking bottom." At the end of that quote is a reference to a footnote that reads "Plato, TIMAEUS, 25." Plato in that location refers to mud banks supposedly encountered after the sinking of Atlantis, an event Plato dated 9000 years before his time. V. has conveniently lopped a factor of ten off to make it consistent with his hypothesized Venus encounter c. 1500 B.C. (see the section on Atlantis in chapter 7 of part I of WORLDS IN COLLISION). Someone who didn't know this might think that Plato was providing confirmation for V's claims of disruption of sea commerce prior to the time of Hatshupset, when in fact he does no such thing. This is a good example of Velikovsky taking his conclusions for granted. He does the same thing in WORLDS IN COLLISION, assuming without much comment his reworking of Near Eastern chronology, something which the naive reader may not know. (Note: Part of the Punt relief shows the elders of Irem offering tribute to Hatshupset. If the ruins located in Oman in Feb. '92 are indeed Ubar/Irem, that would settle the issue of the identification of Punt. Indeed, one of the sources V. cites regarding the identification of the trees shown in the reliefs identifies them as myrrh trees native to the Oman coast south of Ubar/Irem. See New York Times front page for Feb 5, 1992 for the discovery of Ubar.) III. VELIKOVSKY'S IDENTIFICATION OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR WITH HATTUSILIS III Let's look at the claimed parallels between Nebuchadnezzar and Hattusilis III in the book RAMSES II AND HIS TIMES (page references to the 1978 Doubleday edition). On pages 103 to 113 Velikovsky makes a case that Nebuchadnezzar did not directly succeed his father. Then in chapter 5 he offers us the autobiography of Hattusilis as an autobiography of Neb. 1) Velikovsky argues that Neb. made a concerted effort to wipe out evidence of his not having directly followed his father on the throne. Hattusilis is very clear about the order of succession, justifying his overthrow of his nephew. Where is the evidence from later Hittite sources to show suppression of the correct order of succession to match the supposed suppression in Babylonian sources? 2) Velikovsky is guilty of assuming his conclusion in asserting the identity of Neb. and Hattusilis. On page 116, concerning Hattusilis and Neb. being sent to put down rebellions while still princes, V. says: "But in one detail Berosus and other later sources were wrong, and it is possible to check and correct it now, after more than two thousand years. It concerns the question of who sent Nebuchadnezzar against the rebels, his father or his brother." In other words, the autobiography of Hattusilis has his brother sending him to put down a rebellion; Berosus has Nebuchadnezzar's father sending him to put down a rebellion; and somehow this is support for the identity of Hattusilis and Nebuchadnezzar and it is Berosus who is to be corrected, not Velikovsky's assertion of identity which is to be proven wrong by this information. 3) On page 121 he says the following: "AUTOBIOGRAPHY SEC. 10: 'My [deceased] brother had no grown up son. I took Urhi-Tesupa and put him on the throne of his father in the city of Hatti.' This means that Nergil (Nergilissar) died and that his minor son was placed on the throne of the empire. IT IS THIS SITUATION WHICH IS DESCRIBED BY BEROSUS (my emph. -- kck): 'His son...a mere boy, occupied it [the throne]....' King Nabonidus wrote: 'When the days were fulfilled, and he [Nergilissar] met his fate, Labash-Marduk, his young son, who did not understand how to rule, sat on the throne, against the will of the gods.'" Here V. speaks as though Berosus listed Nergilissar and Labash-Marduk as predecessors of Nebuchadnezzar, when in fact he lists them as successors. Going back to page 104, we find that Berosus lists the order of kings as Nebuchadnezzar (43 years), Evilmaraduch (2 years), Neriglisar (4 years), Laborosoardoch ("a mere boy") (9 months). On page 111 Velikovsky tells us that "Nabonidus does not discuss the throne sequence following Nabolpolassar's death," leading me to wonder what is in the context around the quote from him which V gives on page 121. 4) We are told that Neb. suffered from debilitating mental problems for 7 years, during which he roamed the fields like a wild animal (page 130). Where in the Hittite annals is there any evidence of such a thing happening to Hattusilis III? IV. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON Ramses II and His Times. In the standard chronology there are two well-fixed dates relating the Hittites to the Babylonians and Egyptians. The first is the death of Mursilis I in 1590, a couple years after he captured Babylon and ended the First Babylonian Dynasty; and the death of Suppiluliumas in 1335, who we know from Egyptian records died four years after Tut (there were letters exchanged relating to a proposal to marry one of his son's to Tut's widow). If Velikovsky is right, then one of two things must be the case: 1) There are over 700 missing years of Hittite history to allow Suppiluliumas to be moved to the late date required by V's reconstruction while retaining Mursilis I as the destroyer of the First Babylonian Dynasty. 2) The First Babylonian Dynasty was not ended by Mursilis I, in which case we have to ask (a) who were the Hatti mentioned by a Babylonian chronicle as the invaders (see page 85)? and (b) is there any evidence of a Chaldean "Hittite" invasion of Babylon c. 910 B.C., i.e. 250 years before the data V assigns to the death of Suppiluliumas (c. 660 B.C. -- V asserts that it wasn't Tut's widow, but someone else's and pushes the date even later). In others words, V. fails to do a bit of serious sorting out of Hittite history that needs to be done before one could accept his theory. There are a couple places in RAMSES II where I have significant problems with Velikovsky's citation of the archaeological evidence. In the chapter on the tomb of King Ahiram, in which there appeared to be some conflicts between the tomb inscriptions and tomb pottery as to period, not one of the sources cited discussing the conflicts is post-1943, and most are from the 1920's. Are we to understand that no new data came to light between 1943 and 1978 to help resolve the issues involved? In the section on "The Lachish Conflagration," V. says: "Various small objects were discovered amid the ruins. 'The ivories, the beads, and the vases of glass, faience and stone belong fairly consistently to the 18th and 19th Dynasties. Scarabs and plaques range from Thothmes [Thutmose III] (1501-1447) to Ramses II (1292-1225). This indicates only that the Temple cannot have come to an end before 1292 B.C.' All these dates are derived from the conventional chronology. "Together with Egyptian objects of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties, local objects of the ninth and eighth centuries were found in the temple. The following explanation of their presence together with Egyptian objects was offered. "'The objects from graves which were later dug down into the filling of the rooms and the surrounding soil are all ca. 900-800 B.C. They can only prove that the temple was well buried and forgotten by that time.'... "Thus we have the following situation: in the ashes and ruins of the temple of Lachish destroyed by fire in the days of Ramses II (so dated because of the seals of this pharoah), objects of the period of the Jewish kingdom were found in great number, and it was decided that those objects of the later period were *dug into* the level of Ramses II, presumably an earlier period. In the ashes and ruins of the citadel of Lachish, destroyed by fire in the days of Nebuchadnezzar (so dated because of the Hebrew letters to the defenders of the city), a vase with Hieratic writing of the Nineteenth Dynasty and seals of Ramses II were found, and it was decided that these objects, presumably of an earlier period, were *dug up* in the days of the Jewish kings and thus became mingled with objects of a later age (that of Nebuchadnezzar). "Were these two destructions by fire separated by seven hundred years? Our reconstruction of history, according to which Ramses II and Nebuchadnezzar were contemporaries, brings us to a different conclusion." Obviously it does. The question is, is that conclusion correct. 1) Let's point out the problem this data poses for V's theory. In the temple were found items from the late 18th and early 19th dynasties. In the conventional chronology these are contiguous periods, in V's reconstruction several dynasties intervene. Where are the artifacts from those dynasties in the temple? 2) If the grave goods were contemporary with the destruction of the Ramses II era temple, why were graves deliberately dug into the recent ruins of a temple? Makes much more sense if the temple had been a pile of ruins and forgotten for a couple centuries than if the graves were contemporary. 3) V. here is questioning the basic competence of the people doing the field work. Imagine we have this ruined temple. At the bottom is the foundation, above that the floor, above that a layer of burned matter, above that the wreckage of the walls and roof, and above that soil and other matter that accumulates over time on the site. Someone comes and digs a grave down through these layers, piling the dirt in a pile, then filling the hole back in. When the excavators dig their trench, the difference in soil texture and layering will make the grave stick out like a sore thumb. What the excavators (who were professionals, and who were on the scene) saw were graves dug into the earlier temple ruins (into which the Jewish period relics were depositied), and cuts made in the building of the later citadel into the Ramses II era layers (from which the 19th dyn objects could have been recovered). The only mystery here is the absence of artifacts from the period between the 18th and 19th dynasties in the temple ruins if V is correct. He brings up the Alishar C14 date mentioned in EARTH IN UPHEAVAL. I checked his source, Willard Libby, RADIOCARBON DATING, 1951, pp. 71 and 102. p 71 of Libby: "No. 115 _Alishar III (Alishar)_: Wood from the foundation cribbing for a fortification wall in Square 0-10 in levels assigned to period III, 'Early Bronze Age,' in the mound at Alishar Huyuh by the excavator, H. H. von der Osten...Age (years) 3650 +- 350, 2823 +-350. Av. 3212 +- 250" Note that the average date is 1260 B.C. Check your friendly neighborhood encyclopedia under Hittite empire, and you'll find that this is during the reign of Hittite emperor Hattusilis III, who signed a treaty with Ramses II. In other words, the excavator assigned the ruin to the wrong period (Early Bronze Age), but there is no conflict between the date found and the standard chronology wrt the Hittites. It gets worse for Velikovsky on page 102: "Of the seven remaining dates from the same region, one (No. 115) (i.e., the Hittite sample -- kck) is about 800 years too late. However, the sample is suspect because of doubts concerning the status of the period it is assigned to. Also, there is a possibility that its provenance on the sloping side of a mound has been misinterpreted." In other words, it's not a particularly good sample to pick to try to knock over the standard chronology. Velikovsky complained vigorously about the refusal of people to perform C14 dating on artifacts to test his theory. It really isn't very hard to understand why these refusals were made -- at the time it took 30 grams of material to perform a single C14 test, and generally several independent tests are made of the same artifact to get a better estimate of the date by averaging. This is why the shroud of Turin wasn't C14 dated until a few years ago -- it would have destroyed too much of the shroud. From the point of view of mainstream archaeology there was no reason to destroy irreplaceable artifacts to test Velikovsky's theory. Of course, even if C14 dating of New Kingdom artifacts supported the standard chronology, that wouldn't have convinced Velikovsky, who was willing to weasel out of any such inconvenient data by claiming that the catastrophes he hypothesized would have disrupted the isotope ratios in the atmosphere (see page xv, PEOPLES OF THE SEA, Doubleday, 1977). Notice that when C14 dates appeared to support his position he was willing to accept them, though (the Alishar sample discussed above). > A most telling > piece of evidence for his revision of ancient history comes from > carbon-14 dating tests performed on organic matter found in the > tomb of Tutankhamen, who by conventional dating died about > 1350 B.C.E. The tests were performed at the British Museum at > Velikovsky's request, and were reported by him in the introduction > to his "Peoples of the Sea" (Doubleday, 1977), pp. xv-xvii. Pieces > of cedar wood were dated to the 11th century, while reeds and > seeds were dated to the early to middle 9th century, about 500 > years later than the conventional dates. Even after taking into > account the inherent limitations and uncertainties of C-14 dating, > the discrepancy is striking. Since the British Museum people never published the result, we have no way to judge its correctness or accuracy. On the other hand, the Oct. '85 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES lists C14 dates for Egypt using tree-ring data to calibrate the decay curve. Artifacts from the Armana period do not date to the mid-800's as they should according to Velikovsky's theory, but to the range 1260-1410. The standard chronology puts the Amarna period around the 1350's. Velikovsky apparently accepted the validity of dendrochronology, as he cites tree-ring data in chapter 10 of EARTH IN UPHEAVAL. V. PROBLEMS WITH VELIKOVSKY'S INTERPRETATION OF MYTHS AS HISTORY Velikovsky's use of his sources when discussing legends and myths is every bit as tendentious as his use of historical sources. Looking at chapter 3 of part II, in the section "When was the Illiad created?", V. says: "I find in Lucian a statement which corroborates my interpret- ation of the cosmic drama in the ILLIAD. This author of the second century of the present era writes in his work ON ASTROLOGY this most significant and most neglected commentary on the Homeric epics: 'All that he [Homer] hath said of Venus and of Mars his passion, is also manifestly composed from no other source than this science [astrology]. Indeed, it is the conjunction of Venus and Mars that creates the poetry of Homer.' [8] "Lucian is unaware that Athene is the goddess of the planet Venus [9], and yet he knows the real meaning of the cosmic plot of the Homeric epic... [8] Lucian, ON ASTROLOGY (transl. A. M. Harmon, 1936), Sec. 22 [9] In the same sentence Lucian identifies Venus with Aphrodite of the ILLIAD." Note again that Velikovsky incredibly judges his sources in light of his theory rather than his theory in light of his sources, claiming that Lucian is in error equating Venus with Aphrodite, when it is his equation of Venus with Athene which is totally unsupported by ancient authors. Having said that, what is Lucian talking about here? It is not, as V. claims, the conflicts between Athene and Ares in the ILLIAD. Lucian speaks of "Venus and of Mars his passion". The episode referred to is undoubtedly the section of the ODYSSEY which recounts Vulcan's trapping of Mars and Venus in bed together. In the section "Yuddha" of the same chapter, V. says, "Like the author of the Book of Job, who wrote that the earth "hangs upon nothing" (26:7), the SURYA knew that 'above' and 'beneath' are only relative: 'And everywhere upon the globe of the earth, men think their own place to be the uppermost -- but since it is a globe in the ether, where should there be an upper, or an under side of it?'" To interpret that passage in Job as evidence that the author believed the Earth to float unsupported in space requires that one ignore context and narrative voice. It is Job speaking in chapter 26 who says {Job 26:7} He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. Yet when Yahweh rebukes Job, he asks: {Job 38:4} Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. {Job 38:5} Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? {Job 38:6} Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; {Job 38:7} When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? As the point of God's rebuke is to bring out Job's ignorance of matters cosmic, it would be odd for Him to ask Job if he knows where the foundations of the Earth are fastened if, indeed, Job knew the correct answer (and had given it in 26:7). At the start of chapter 9 of part I, "Pallas Athene", V. says, "The mythologies of all peoples concern themselves with the birth only of Venus, not with that of Jupiter, Mars, or Saturn. Jupiter is described as heir to Saturn, but his birth is not a mythological subject." This is nonsense, as a quick glance at BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY will confirm. Greek myths do tell of the birth of Zeus (Chronos devoured all his children until Ops substituted a stone for Zeus). They also tell of the birth of other gods such as Aphrodite (sea foam mixed with blood from the castration of Uranus), and Dionysus (carried by Zeus in his thigh after his mortal mother was destroyed by the sight of Zeus in divine splendor). I imagine Velikovsky would explain the birth of Dionysus by claiming that radiation from the planet Jupiter made Semele pregnant during a close approach, and sucked the fetus up into the sky where it mutated into a comet, in keeping with his usual style of mythical interpretation. In chapter 7 of part I of WiC, we are told that the Venus encounter at the time of the Exodus coincided with the flood of Ogyges on the basis of quotes from Julius Africanus. In chapter 9, the myth of the birth of Pallas Athena from the head of Zeus (Jupiter) is identified as an account of the expulsion of Venus from Jupiter, and Veliokovsky says, "Augustine wrote: 'Minerva [Athene] is reported to have the time of Ogyges.'" Thanks to a post by Ted Holden, we can show that the Egyptians were seeing Venus as the morning star several hundred years before the supposed Venus encounters: > From Samuel Noah Kramer's "Mythologies of the Ancient World", > Doubleday Anchor, pp 89-90, we read the following concerning the > Egyptian conception of the so-called "Eye of Ra", which we read > much of in Egyptian mythology: > > "Only the eye of Re is identified as a heavenly body in a few > sentences in the pyramid texts. We used to understand them as > though the eye of Re was identified as the sun, but a careful > interpretation of them has unmistakably shown that the eye of > Re was the morning star..." > > i.e. this is common knowledge amongst Egyptologists. Those who > might doubt Kramer as a source can check pages 37 - 40 of the > latest version of LaRousse's popular mythological encyclopedia > (Pierre Grimal, I believe I'm remembering the name correctly, > editor). You'll find the same identification of Sekhet, the Eye of > Ra, and Venus. The Pyramid Texts date to the IVth to VIth Dynasties, i.e. c.2613 to c.2181 B.C. (hence the name). Either the connection of the flood of Ogyges with the Exodus, the connection of the birth of Athena with the time of Ogyges, or the identification of the myth of the birth of Athena as the supposed expulsion of Venus from Jupiter is in error. Venus is being identified as the morning star in the Pyramid Texts. Venus and Mercury appear as morning/evening stars because their orbits are inside the orbit of the Earth, limiting the angular distance they move from the Sun. I'm not sure you can even come up with Earth-crossing orbits that would show morning/evening star behavior, making the supposed encounters difficult. Velikovsky in OEDIPUS AND AKHNATON hints at a connection that Ted made clearer: the myth of Ra sending Hathor in the form of Sekhmet to punish rebellious humanity with one of the Venus encounters. > In Budge's "Gods of the Egyptians", Vol I, pp 388 - 399, we read > the story of the destruction of mankind. As the story goes, the > great god (Ra) had grown old and feeble and men began to blaspheme, > saying: > > "behold, his majesty, life, strength, health, has grown old, > his bones are like silver, his limbs like gold, his hair like > lapis lazuli real" > > The attendant gods counseled sending the eye of Ra to punish > mankind: > > "... let thine eye be upon those who blaspheme thee. ...Let > go forth thine eye, let it destroy for thee those who > blaspheme with wickedness, not an eye can proceed it in > resistance, when it goeth down in the form of Hathor > [Venus]... Went forth then goddess this, she slew mankind on > the mountain... Said goddess this, when I had power over > mankind, it was pleasing to my heart... It came to pass that > Sekhet [again, Venus] of the offerings of the night waded > about in their blood, beginning in Suten-henen... The two supposed Venus encounters coincided with the plagues of Egypt and the Passover, and the destruction of Jericho by Joshua, both of which took place in the spring. The Egyptian commemoration of the slaughter by Sekhmet was on the 12th day of the first month of winter according to our edition of the Larousse encyc. of mythology. Either the Sekhmet myth isn't refering to the same events, or there was another encounter not described by Velikovsky, in which case I would ask for the confirming evidence for that encounter. Also, according to the Egyptian myth, Sekhmet was stopped by putting out cups filled with mandrake-spiked beer colored red to make it look like blood. She drank it and passed out. If we're going to interpret the myth as a planetary encounter, then what the heck is going on with the beer? Did some electromagnetic force not working today suck it up into the sky while leaving everything else on the ground? VI. COURVILLE'S REALIGNMENT OF CHRONOLOGY Courville (in the two volumes of THE EXODUS PROBLEM AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS) proposes a very similar realignment, with the Ipuwer papyrus and Exodus dating to c. 1450 B.C., Hatshupset contemporary with Solomon, an 8th century date for the Trojan War, etc. In other words, same dog, different fleas. The same problems with the identification of the Ipuwer papyrus as an account of the Biblical plagues apply. Where do monuments from the reign of Hatshupset mention Solomon, her brother in law? Do Hittite records of the time of Hatusilis III mention Nebuchednezzar, who would have been a contemporary figure? Courville wants to do some other shifting around. V I, p 101: "But this can only be true if Dynasty XII and most of Dynasty XIII were contemporary with Dynasty VI since the invasion of the Hyksos clearly belongs near the end of Dynasty XIII. The so-called Middle Kingdom of Egypt thus never had an existence as such and is but a creation of modern historians resulting from an erroneous interpretation of Manetho's dynasties. The Old kingdom, represented by Dynasties I to VI, was separated from the New Kingdom under the XVIIIth Dynasty only by the period of Hyksos domination. This dark period then includes not only Dynasties XIV to XVII as traditionally held, but also includes Dynasties VII to X." At this point let's get a couple things about tree-ring calibration of C14 dates totally clear. First, artifacts which are close to contemporary should give similar dates regardless of the correctness of the absolute age indicated. Second, no matter how many extra tree rings may have snuck into the record, if the calibrated C14 dates say A preceded B and B preceded C, that ordering holds regardless of the accuracy of the absolute dates. p132 of Stiebing: "Carbon-14 dates also place the Twelfth Dynasty *later* than the Sixth Dynasty, not contemporaneous with it..." Also, on page 131 Stiebing says, "That EB III pottery from Syria-Palastine has often been found in tombs from the era of the Sixth Dynasty, but *not* in tombs dated to the Twelfth Dynasty argues against Courville's reorganization of the Egyptian dynasties." Stiebing also mentions serious contradictions between the Biblical account (which Courville is trying to save the historicity of with his reconstruction) and Courville's scheme. As an example, on page 132 Stiebing says, "But, according to the Bible, after its destruction Jericho was cursed and remained unoccupied until it was rebuilt during the time of the Divided Monarchy (Joshua 6:26; I Kings 16:34). Therefore, according to Courville and Vaninger's archaeological correlations there should be no remains at Jericho from the Middle Bronze I and II periods (the era of the "judges" and the United Monarchy in their system). However, large numbers of MB I tombs were found at Jericho and some limited materials were found on the tell; there was also a flourishing walled city on the site through the MB II period!" See also the comment on Late Bronze Age sites and the Divided Monarchy period at the bottom of page 133, top of page 134. Courville makes a number of statements that indicate he doesn't understand some of the things he's criticizing. For instance, on p. 44, v II he says, "The reason why floating continents as an explanation of the tropical climate at the poles is totally out of the question is the fact that the equitorial diameter of the earth is 27 miles greater than the polar diameter. For any shift between the polar and equitorial regions to have occurred, this entire bulge of 13.5 miles must somehow have been transferred from what is now the polar regions to the what is now the equitorial region. This concept hardly fits into the frame of uniformitarianism." Since it is only a thin crust that is involved in continental drift, this is an inane criticism. Two pages later, in a section titled "Other Severe Changes to Be Associated with the Flood," he talks about C14 dating of corals: "As such determinations are made on samples starting with the more recent deposits and proceding to the older formations, the assigned ages retreat to values of c. 10,000 years, at which point the values remain essentially constant (within the sensitivity of the method of analysis) for all but the very oldest samples, which then again are remnants of the antediluvian world. The value c. 10,000 provides a clue to the approximate error in ages by C-14 data from materials that died at the time of the flood." Apart from the problems that we've rehashed over and over on t.o regarding "Flood geology", my understanding is that the dates max out at 10,000 B.P. because that was the limit of the sensitivity of the technique 20 years ago. Since he doesn't footnote this claim, I can't check into the supposed older samples. 7) AN EXTRACT FROM STIEBING'S CRITIQUE OF VELIKOVSKY'S USE OF THE AMARNA LETTERS. The Amarna letters name rulers in the Near and Middle East and describe their interactions. If the Amarna period is contemporary with the biblical King Ahab, then the Amarna letters had better be describing the same people as II Chronicles, or Velikovsky's reconstruction is deep-sixed. To quote Stiebing, "Occasionally, ancient rulers were known by more than one name, but it is difficult to believe that _every_ king mentioned in the Amarna Letters was refered to by a name different from the one used in ninth-century B.C. Mesopotamian and biblical sources." For example (quoting _Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions_), "It is possible that Jehoshaphat of Judah had another name that we don't know about, but it is very unlikely that it was Abdu-Hepa, as Velikovsky asserts. The Bible indicates that Jehoshaphat was a dedicated worshipper of Yahweh who attempted to suppress idolatry in Judah. Could he have received such favorable notice from the biblical authors if he had chosen the throne name Abdu-Hapa, which (despite Velikovsky's claims to the contrary) means 'Servant of [the Goddess] Hepa'? Furthermore, in the Amarna letters, Azaru is the son of Abdi-Ashirta. Velikovsky declares that these two individuals are the same as the ninth-century rulers Hazael and Ben-Hadd (I), but both the Bible and Shalmaneser III's inscriptions indicate that Hazael was _not_ the son of Ben-Hadad (I). Hazael was a commoner who usurped the throne -- Shalmaneser's inscription calls him 'son of a nobody.'... "For Velikovsky's synchronization to be valid, not only must his improbable explanation for the differences in the royal names be correct, but also his interpretation of certain place names. In the Amarna letters, Rib-Addi is king of Gubla, which Velikovsky argues was the original name of Jezreel in Israel before Ahab changed it. He rejects the traditional equation of Gubla (Gebel in Hebrew and Phoenician) with Byblos, a city in Lebanon that is still called Jebeil in Arabic. Yet not only does the Bible refer to Byblos as Gebel (Joshua 13:4; Ezekial 27:9; Psalms 83:8), but also Assyrian texts clearly indicate that Gubla or Gubal was Byblos. An early eleventh-century-B.C. inscription describing an Assyrian campaign in Lebanon refers to Gubal among other Lebanese cities. And ninth-century-B.C. texts recounting the military conquests of the Assyrian monarchs Asshurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III place Gubal on the coast of Lebanon along with Tyre and Sidon. It should also be noted that in Shalmaneser's inscriptions (which are written in Akkadian just as the Amarna letters are), Ahab is refered to as Ahab of Israel, not Rib-Addi of Gubla! It is not only wrong, but wrong-headed, to reject all of this evidence for the identification of Gubla with Byblos and opt instead for its identification with Jezreel, an equation unattested in any ancient text." Here are some extracts from "Venus and Velikovsky: The Original Sources", by Bob Forrest in the _Skeptical Inquirer_, vol 8, Winter '83-4: "To begin with, Velikovsky tells us that to the Mexicans Venus was 'la estrella que humeava,' the star that smoked. But does this phrase really refer to a cometary Venus in 1500 B.C.? If we follow up the sources cited by Velikovsky, we find it refers to nothing of the sort. According to the main source, E. T. Hamy's _Codex Telleriano-Remensis_, Venus was the smoking star in the sixteenth century _A.D._, and so cannot possibly have had anything to do with Velikovsky's scenerio! A possible explanation for the smoke is offered by F. H. A. von Humboldt's _Researches_, to which Velikovsky also refers, and this likewise has nothing to do with what may or may not have happened back in the days of the Exodus. According to Humboldt the smoke may relate to the volcano Orizava, situated to the east of the city of Cholula, whose glow when seen in the distance resembled, or was symbolically related to, the rising Morning Star. This explanation is far from certain, of course: all we have are some sixteenth-century records that say, every so often, 'This year the star threw out smoke'; but since the phrase seems to be frequently intertwined with records of earthquake activity, Humboldt's assumption seems reasonable. "Another reference to Venus looking like 'a fire accompanied by smoke' is to be found, according to Velikovsky, in the _Vedas_. Actually Velikovsky here refers to a book by Scheftelowitz, which in its turn refers not to the _Vedas_ but to the _Mahabharata_, India's equivalent of the _Illiad_. In any event, the context of this fire with smoke is _not_ a story of Venusian catastrophes and global disasters. Instead, it is part of a list of prodigies and portents associated with the approach of a battle between two rival families, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The list includes women giving birth to peacocks, cocks crowing in strange ways, flowers blooming out of season, and, need I say it, Venus looking like fire with smoke! "We fare no better if we turn to the Talmud, where, Velikovsky assures us, is to be found the statement 'Fire is hanging down from the planet Venus.' This statement is supposedly to be found in Shabbath 156a, but once again, for the reader who troubles to look it up, there is only disappointment in store. Shabbath 156a is an astrological text. The nearest it comes to describing the Venus comet is when it tells us that those who are born under Venus tend to be wealthy and immoral, since fire was created in the hours ruled over by Venus!... "The following is actually the closest we get to a good record of a blazing Venus comet. Velikovsky writes: The Chinese astronomical text fron Soochow refers to the past when 'Venus was visible in full daylight and, while moving across the sky, rivalled the sun in brightness.' "The trouble with this reference, though, is that thought it is a genuine quote, it does _not_ occur in a catastrophic context, as readers of _Worlds in Collision_ might suppose. There is no mention in the Soochow chart of rains of burning naphtha, earthquakes, upturned skies, or any of the other earth-shattering phenomena associated with Velikovsky's scenario. Rather, it appears as one item in a list of celestial prodigies that are supposed to have happened in the past, and which were believed to be the result of adverse political circumstances. The Soochow chart tells us that during periods of good government the sun, moon and planets move 'with regular constancy' but that 'if it happens that the emperor interferes with the office of the ministers or the latter usurps the imperial power...the malign influences (planetary) change strangely and behave irregularly.'... "What makes it further certain that this Venus prodigy has nothing to do with the global mayhem proposed in _Worlds in Collision_ is the way the Soochow chart fails to class it as a particularly alarming event. After describing the antics of Venus, the chart goes on to say that 'in very serious cases' -- presumably implying that what has gone before (which includes the Venus prodigy) is not very serious -- the planets change into phantom stars or stars of ill omen. Now whatever else might be said of the Venus comet, there seems no way that it could ever be classed as anything but very serious indeed!"


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank