CHRONOLOGICAL PROBLEMS in ANCIENT HISTORY
Military Illustrated, June 2000
by John Egan
Modern scholarship, as well as some classical commentators, set the date for the Fall of Troy c. -1250 BCE. However, alternative explanations place the date in a more reasonable and comprehensible historical context. Powerful evidence shows that Troy fell not at the accepted date, but rather c. -850 BCE and that Helen and Homer were probably contemporaries. Sources from antiquity indicate that Homer studied with Mante, the Oracle at Delphi, and daughter of the blind Seer Tirasias of Thebes who were both contemporaries of Jason, i.e. the generation before Helen.1 Homer’s books contain such minute details of accurate geographical references it is difficult to conclude he was not there to compile the evidence himself.2 It’s also interesting that, according to the standard chronology, Greek literature begins with the Iliad, the greatest classic in that language. There’s no development of Greek epic composition; it emerges suddenly in full flower. Thus a commentator may write without blinking “if Homer learned to write in the 8th century, there was little or nothing for him to read.” 3 There is no reflection upon how a completely evolved epic poetic language, vital to this day, should abruptly emerge in a literary void. This problem is not unlike many other events in the modern study of ancient history, which defy conventional understanding, but are easily resolved when one eliminates the 400-year gap in Greek history known as “The Greek Dark Age.”
Unlike the European “Dark Age” which referred (falsely) to an era of cultural regression, the “Greek Dark Age” is a period from which there are no artifacts; a 400-year interval in which there is no evidence whatsoever that it ever happened. What this means is that artifacts exist from the Bronze Age, thought to have ended c. -1200 BCE, with the next level of artifacts from classical Greece and the advent of Greek literature c. -800 BCE, with nothing in between. It is very possible, extremely likely actually, that there is no gap; that the Bronze Age ended right when the evidence indicates it did, with Homer writing upon events that he either actually witnessed or else lay quite close to him chronologically. We are saddled with the “Greek Dark Age” because modern professional historians needed to place Greek history forcefully into the context of Egyptian history since no calendar or other fast frame of reference exists for Greek history prior to the introduction of the Olympic Games in -776 BCE.
Conventional understanding of the chronology of Egyptian, and by inference, Greek history before -776, comes from the historian Manetho, who lived in the Third Century BCE, known to be wrong on most of his other assessments of history. Manetho based his history of Egypt on fragmentary records and our understanding of his history comes from Christian historians. No records from Manetho himself exist. It’s long been known that Manetho's chronology of Egyptian kings is mostly imaginary. Whenever comparisons could be made with records from Egyptian monuments, Manetho’s history was shown to be false. However, since there is little else to go by except for Manetho's history, his understanding of events is now the holy writ. J.H. Breasted, perhaps the most renowned Egyptologist writes:
Although we know that many of his divisions are arbitrary and that there was many a dynastic change where he indicates none... his dynasties divide the kings into convenient groups which have so long been employed in modern study of Egyptian history that it is now impossible to dispense with them. 4
Since then Egyptologists have erected the “Four Pillars”
of Egyptian chronology of which only the sack of Thebes by the Assyrians
in -664 BCE is reliable. The others are based upon far-fetched and
contrived astronomical data accepted only because they seem to confirm
the standard chronology.5 A non-existent era of 400 years in
Manetho’s Egyptian chronology, confuses Greek history to the point of
absurdity. It is interesting to note, that in one of the most astounding
“coincidences” in all of archeology and history, an “Anatolian Dark
Age,” a culture alien and remote from the Greek, also spans the years
-1200 to -750 BCE.6 With the timing of both Bronze Age Greece
and Anatolia calibrated upon a faulty Egyptian chronology, ancient
history is thrown into a ludicrous turmoil.
The mountain of evidence against Manetho is actually quite astounding. For example, hundreds of tiles were excavated from the palace of Ramses III bearing the Pharaoh’s name, who according to Manetho, lived in the 12th century BCE. Unfortunately for Manetho’s chronology, Greek workmen, as artisans are wont to do, carved their initials on the rear of the tiles before they were fired.7 The problem here is that the theoretical framework holds that the Greeks did not develop their alphabet until 400 years later, in the 8th century BCE. How could Greek artisans have emblazoned their marks on the tiles at a time when Greeks weren’t even supposed to have an alphabet? When faced with proof like this, professional Egyptologists close ranks and deny the reality of the conflicting evidence since their careers are at stake. A realistic and alternative view of the past then becomes a difficult and professionally dangerous vision.8
Gustav Schwab, Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece (New York 1946).
Rhys Carpernter, Folk Tale, Fiction and Saga in the Homeric Epics (Berkeley, 1956). Also, “The Criticism of an Oral Homer,” J.B. Hainsworth, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 90 (1970) 90-98.
The Iliad (Penguin 1990), Robert Fagles, trans, introduction by Bernard Knox, p19.
J.H. Breasted, A History of Egypt (New York: Scribner, 1937).
David M. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings (New York, 1995), pp. 119-135. John Forsdyke, Greece Before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology ( New York).
Akurgal, E Die Kunst Anatolians, Berlin 1961, cited in Immanuel Velikovsky, Ramses II and His Time (New York, 1978).
E. Naville, The Mound of the Jew and the City of Onias, (Egyptian Exploration Fund 1887), cited in Immanuel Velikovsky, Peoples of the Sea, (New York 1977).
John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, (Quest, 1993).