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JW Insider

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  1. The best explanation of what Furuli had tried to do was explained by COJ, even before COJ's explanation was confirmed by Hermann Hunger, the acknowledged expert in the field. I will include some additional context from COJ because it also helps explain why Furuli was so mixed-up in trying to promote the forgery idea:

      Hello guest!

    Finally, Furuli’s hypothesis is self-contradictory. If it were true that the planetary positions “represent backward calculations by an astrologer who believed that 568/67 was year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar II,” and if it were true that “the original tablet that was copied in Seleucid times was made in 588/87,” which Furuli argues was the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, then the astrologer/copyist must have dated the tablet to the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar from the very beginning! No modern manipulation of the date would then have been necessary.

     

    Furuli’s hypothesis is simply untenable. The only reason for his suggesting it is the desperate need to get rid of a tablet that inexorably demolishes his “Oslo [= Watchtower] chronology” and firmly establishes the absolute chronology for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BCE).

     

    As discussed in chapter 4 of my book The Gentile Times Reconsidered (Atlanta: Commentary Press, 2004), there are at least nine other astronomical tablets that perform the same service. Furuli’s futile attempts to undermine the enormous burden of evidence provided by these other astronomical tablets will be discussed in another, separate part of this review.

     

    The question that remains to be discussed here is Furuli’s claim that the lunar positions that were observed in the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar and are recorded on VAT 4956 fit the year 588/587 better than 568/567 BCE.

    ------

    On the back cover of his new book Rolf Furuli states that the conclusion of his study is that “the lunar data on the tablet [VAT 4956] better fit 588 than 568 B.C.E., and that this is the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II.” What about this claim?

     

    A careful examination of all the legible lunar positions recorded on this astronomical “diary” proves that the claim is false. Almost none of the lunar positions recorded on VAT 4956 fit the year 588/587 BCE, while nearly all of them excellently correspond to lunar positions in the year 568/567 BCE.

     

    The astronomy program used for this examination is Chris Marriott’s SkyMap Pro 11.04, which uses the modern complete ELP2000-82B lunar theory. The “delta-T” value used for the secular acceleration of the Moon is 1.7 milliseconds per century, which is the result of the extensive research presented by F. Richard Stephenson in his Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation (Cambridge, 1997). The program used, therefore, maintains high accuracy far into the past, which is not true of many other modern astronomy programs. 

     

    About a year before Furuli’s book had been published in the autumn of 2007 I had examined his claim (which he had published officially in advance) and found that none of the lunar positions fit the year 588/587 BCE. I shared the first half of my results with some of my correspondents. I did not know at that time that Furuli not only moves the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar 20 years back to 588/587 BCE, but that he also moves the 37th year about one extra month forward in the Julian calendar, which actually makes it fall too late in that year. The reason for this is the following:

     

    On the obverse, line 17, VAT 4956 states that on day 15 of month III (Simanu) there was a “lunar eclipse that was omitted.” The phrase refers to an eclipse that had been calculated in advance to be invisible from the Babylonian horizon.

     

    On page 126 Furuli explains that he has used this eclipse record as the “point of departure” for  mapping “the regnal years, the intercalary months, and the beginning of each month in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, both from the point of view that 568/67 and 588/87 B.C.E. represent his year 37.”

     

    In the traditional date for the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, this eclipse can easily be identified with the eclipse of July 4, 568 (Julian calendar). Thus the Babylonian date, the 15th of month III, corresponds to July 4, 568 BCE. From that date we may count backward to the 1st of month III, which must have been June 20/21 (sunset to sunset), 568. As the tablet further shows that the preceding Month II (Ayyaru) had 29 days and Month I (Nisannu) 30 days, it is easy to figure out that the 1st of Ayyaru fell on May 22/23, 568, and the 1st of Nisannu (i.e., the 1st day of year 37) on April 22/23, 568 BCE.

     

    On moving back 20 years to 588/87 BCE – the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar in Furuli’s alternative “Oslo Chronology” – we find that in this year, too, there was a lunar eclipse that could not be seen from the Babylonian horizon. It took place on July 15, 588 BCE. According to Furuli this is the eclipse that VAT 4956 dates to the 15th of month III (Simanu). Reckoning backwards from July 15, Furuli dates the 1st of month III to June 30, 588; the 1st of month II (Ayyaru) to June 1, 588, and the 1st of month I (Nisannu) to May 1. (In his discussions and/or calculations he is inconsistently alternating between May 1, May 2, and May 3).

     

    There are a number of problems with Furuli’s dates. The first one is that the first day of the Babylonian year, Nisannu 1, never began as late as in May! As shown by the tables on pages 27-47 in R. A. Parker & W. H. Dubberstein’s Babylonian Chronology (Brown Univeristy Press, 1956), the 1st of Nisannu never once in the 700-year period covered (626 BCE – CE 75) began as late as in May. The same holds true of the subsequent months: the 1st of Ayyaru never began as late as on June 1, and the 1st of Simanu never began as late as on June 30. For this reason alone the lunar eclipse that VAT 4956 dates to the 15th of month III cannot be that of July 15, 588 BCE! This eclipse must have fallen in the middle of month IV in the Babylonian calendar. Furuli’s “point of departure” for his “Oslo Chronology,” therefore, is quite clearly wrong.

     

    Very interestingly, the lunar eclipse of July 15, 588 BCE was recorded by the Babylonians on another cuneiform tablet, BM 38462, No. 1420 in A. Sachs’ LBAT catalogue, and No. 6 in H. Hunger’s Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia (ADT), Vol. V (Wien, 2001). I discussed this tablet on pages 180-182 of my book, The Gentile Times Reconsidered (3rd ed. 1998, 4th ed. 2004). The chronological strength of this tablet is just as decisive as that of VAT 4956. It contains annual lunar eclipse reports dating from the 1st to at least the 29th regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar (604/603 – 576/575 BCE). The preserved parts of the tablet contain as many as 37 records of eclipses, 22 of which were predicted, 14 observed, and one that is uncertain.

     

    The entry containing the record of the July 15, 588 BCE eclipse (obverse, lines 16-18) is dated to year 17, not year 37, of Nebuchadnezzar! This entry reports two lunar eclipses in this year, one “omitted” and one observed. The first, “omitted” one, which refers to the eclipse of July 15, 588, is dated to month IV (Duzu), not to month III (Simanu). So it cannot be the eclipse dated to month III on VAT 4956. That this eclipse really is the one of July 15, 588 is confirmed by the detailed information given about the second, observed lunar eclipse, which is dated to month X (Tebetu) of year 17. The details about the time and the magnitude help to identify this eclipse beyond all reasonable doubts. The whole entry reads according to H. Hunger’s translation in ADT V, page 29:

     

    “[Year] 17, Month IV, [omitted.]

    [Month] X, the 13th, morning watch, 1 beru 5o [before sunrise?]

    All of it was covered. [It set eclips]ed.”

     

    The second eclipse in month X – six months after the first – took place on January 8, 587 BCE. This date, therefore, corresponded to the 13th of month X in the Babylonian calendar. This agrees with Parker & Dubberstein’s tables, which show that the 1st of month X (Tebetu) fell on 26/27 December in 588 BCE. The Babylonians divided the 24-hour day into 12 beru or 360 USH (degrees), so one beru was two hours and 5 USH (= degrees of four minutes each) were 20 minutes. According to the tablet, then, this eclipse began 2 hours and 20 minutes before sunrise. It was total (“All of it was covered”), and it “[set eclips]ed,” i.e., it ended after moonset. What do modern computations of this eclipse show?

     

    My astroprogram shows that the eclipse of January 8, 587 BCE began “in the morning watch” at 04:51, and that sunrise occurred at 07:12. The eclipse, then, began 2 hours and 21 minutes before sunrise – exactly as the tablet says. The difference of one minute is not real, as the USH (time degree of 4 minutes) is the shortest time unit used in this text. [The USH was not the shortest time unit of the Babylonians, of course, as they also divided the USH into 12 “fingers” of 20 seconds each.] The totality began at 05:53 and ended at 07:38. As moonset occurred at 07:17 according to my program, the eclipse was still total at moonset. Thus the moon “set while eclipsed.”

     

    Furuli attempts to dismiss the enormous weight of evidence provided by this tablet in just a few very confusing statements on page 127 of his book. He erroneously claims that the many eclipses recorded “occurred in the month before they were expected, except in one case where the eclipse may have occurred two months before.” There is not the slightest truth in this statement. Both the predicted and the observed eclipses agree with modern computations. The statement seems to be based on the gross mistakes he has made on the previous page, where he has misidentified the months on LBAT 1421 with disastrous results for his calculations.

     

    In the examination below, the lunar positions recorded on VAT 4956 are tested both for 568/567 BCE as the generally accepted 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar and for Furuli’s alternative dates in 588/587 BCE as presented on pages 295-325 of his book.

  2. So PM (Pekka Mansikka) recognizes that this eclipse was stated by the scribe to be not visible, and that scholars match it to July 4, 568. BCE, which is Simanu 15, 568 BCE.

    Scholars generally believe that this lunar eclipse was predicted in advance, and now that the predicted time came, the Babylonian scribe stated that the eclipse was not visible. However, it could be uncertain whether the entry related to this lunar eclipse was written in real time in 568 BC. Why? Because then one would have to draw the conclusion that the aforementioned positions of the moon and planets are also written down in real time.

    Wait! Almost all the lunar data on the tablet are a good match for 568. Except for the Nisanu 8/9 "typo" and a couple other difficult readings that PM doesn't mention. However, even Furuli admits that the planetary data is a good match for 568 (and not the 588 date he and the WTS would have hoped for). But PM says that because of a couple of minor typos, we can now imagine that there is uncertainty about the persons who were assigned to observe and write down their observations. PM wants us to believe that perhaps none of these were ever real-time observations. And why not? Because then we would have to accept that all of them were. (And we don't want that because it would be evidence that this tablet is actually for the year it says it is.)

    Such a convoluted bit of circular reasoning! PM admits that there are obvious observations on the tablet. Even if they are as mundane as a sick fox getting into the city, or a wolf that gets in and kills a couple of dogs. He thinks these probably belong to the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar as claimed. But the lunar data and the planetary data on the same tablet keep pointing to 568 BCE, which is the same place all the other Neo-Babylonian archaeological data also points to. So how do we get rid of this evidence against the WTS theory? Simple. We are asked to assume that the perfectly good 568 data for a lunar eclipse might not have been checked for, simply because the observer knew it was predicted to be not visible anyway. Yet, we have absolutely no evidence that the observer decided not to check for this eclipse. So why do we decide that he didn't? Because then we would have to admit that the other lunar and planetary data had been observed. (And that would be devastating to the WTS theory about 607. )

    But then PM goes right ahead and contradicts himself anyway, and says that the line actually refers to a lunar eclipse that was observed in 588. Furuli's book calls this the "point of departure." PM paraphrases that idea by calling it the "one 'small' exception."

    This involves a very serious mistake. The inscription at the beginning of the clay tablet “the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule” is incorrect.The positions of the moon and planets in the starry sky described in this clay tablet were realized several years after the end of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. However, there is one, “small” exception to this. It has been estimated that this lunar eclipse would have taken place on 15 July 588 BC.6 In that case, it could be a real-time entry and would be part of the “historical data” listed earlier. However, it is uncertain whether such a late date can be applied to the 15th day of the simanu month. The beginning of the year would then be in early May.

    Of course, the confusion in PM's logic is directly inherited from the same confusion in Furuli. And there actually never was a predicted but unobserved eclipse in the third month of 588. Furuli tried hard to make one up by shifting the Babylonian calendar by one month. It was a clever plan because an unobserved eclipse will have no data associated with it, and should therefore be easier to "match" to any other unobserved eclipse. And all eclipses fall pretty much on the same day of the month, too, from the 13th through the 15th. So it was a good plan, but 588 did not have an eclipse in the third month. But it did have an eclipse in the 4th month. So all Furuli had to do was shift the Babylonian calendar to a place it had never been before, and say that the 4th month was actually the third month in 588.

    Of course, Furuli got "caught" trying to start the year in May, which had never been evidenced in many centuries of astronomical data left to us by the Babylonians. Even PM has to admit above: "However, it is uncertain whether such a late date can be applied to the 15th day of the simanu month. The beginning of the year would then be in early May."

    Ann O'maly already pointed out the strange mix of honesty and dishonesty when the authors of the pro-WT-theory site called vat4956.com were confronted by this objection: (You can see the page at

      Hello guest!

    Common counter-arguments for the year 588 BC

    A Babylonian year never started as late as May

    Not according to Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein in Babylonian Chronology, 626 B.C. – A.D. 45. The latest a year starts during this period according to them is April 26th, just 7 days earlier than May 2nd.

    To me this is a not-so-cleverly dishonest way possible of wording this, because they pretend that an authority agrees with them, and then when they quote the authority, you have to be careful to note that the authority disagrees with them. They realize that most of their readers who will believe them have a bias that would allow them to miss the dishonesty out of one side of their mouth, while admitting the authority disagrees with them out of the other side.

    There was another snag in Furuli's theory that this other 588 eclipse was NEB37. Another tablet that I already tested (in another topic, LBAT 1420) lists the same unobserved eclipse, except that it names it for Nebuchadnezzar's 17th year, 20 years earlier, just where we would expected it based on the archaeology. But, to make things worse for Furuli and PM, that tablet also had an observed eclipse in the same year. That provides even more sure evidence that Furuli's attempt was impossible and short-sighted.

  3. PM mentioned the "typo" but didn't take it anywhere, yet. He leaves the idea hanging there while he changes the subject to "historical" data contained in the Diary:

    Historical data On closer inspection of the structure of the clay tablet VAT 4956, it can be seen that it is very exceptional. It seems that this is mainly an astronomical dissertation of antiquity. But it also includes historical records.

    Line 5 says:

    [nisannu] 20th, in the morning, the sun was surrounded by a halo. Around noon ... A rainbow stretched in the east.

    Lines 6 and 7 say:

    From the 8th of month to the 28th, the river level rose 3 cubits and 8 fingers. 2/3 cubits [….] to the high flood [….] were killed on order of the king. That month, a fox entered the city. Coughing and a little risutu-disease

    John Steele has written a lot about the general nature and the changing format of these diaries over the centuries. At the time of a 568 BCE astronomical diary, it was not 100% about astronomy. The day to day diaries could include river levels, grain prices, weather and other activities considered more or less significant. When the daily reports were collected, there was no need to include all the days where "nothing special happened today." But descriptions of sky events like halos around the moon, or perhaps even an exceptional rainbow might have been more than just mundane "history." One of the halo descriptions includes the name of a star covered within the 22 degree radius of the halo circle, and therefore helps us date the event (to 568). Also, a disease carrying fox that manages to get into a city with extremely high walls might have been more ominous to the Babylonian citizens than mere mundane history.

    Over time the scribes became purely recorders and observers, with little interest in recording mundane events that might be somehow related to celestial observations. Ultimately, they just stuck with observations with no attempt to interpret the observations, or link heavenly observations with gods or omens.

    Later, PM will try to use these types of items as if they have been somehow meshed in from a completely separate history of the year (588), but this ignores the fact that several such elements like these are not listed under their own lines but tied in with the astronomical observations on the same lines, on the same dates. No good reason is given for treating them separately as if they are from a different year. (A year that has no evidence going for it in the tablet.)

    Nevertheless, PM says this about them, but at least admits that he is making an "assumption" about them just because they aren't purely astronomical observations:

    Although this is dated to the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, these lines 6 and 7 describe the end of the last month of the supposed 36th year of government. Many other lines can be found. Because of the things described in them, it is reasonable to assume that they describe historical, real-time recorded information. Indeed, this feature initially evokes great wonder when creating an accurate look at the astronomical markings on the clay tablet. Instead, one might assume that they were not written at the same time.

    Then PM goes on to this topic, skipping several lines of the tablet:

    Jupiter was above Scorpio This is a remarkable detail that has often been overlooked. Line 13 tells you what the view was like just when the third or simanu month began: Mercury passed below Mars to the East; Jupiter was above α Scorpii; What is the time of Jupiter's orbit around the sun? It is 11 years, 315 days, and 1.1 hours.Based on this, we can find out what years Jupiter can be found near the constellation Scorpio when we apply that term.

    So, has PM skipped to this line to show us where, in one of the planetary observations, that a year outside of 568 might be intended? Because of the chart, I will include a picture of the text:

    image.png

    Jupiter Scorpio near the constellation  [chart above] Jupiter can be found there on the date 18th-22nd June 568 BC. It is also found near Scorpio from 544 BC, 556 BC, 580 BC. and 592 BC. Of these only in 568 BC. was a lunar eclipse. Based on this, one could make an estimate and conclude that the astronomical measurements of VAT 4956 date back to 568 BC.

    That could be a let-down to some Witness readers. He agrees that this is about 568, not 588 which would please the WTS. (Of cource, Furuli also admitted that the planetary data matches 568, but resorted to the idea that it was "forged.")

    The fact that the planet Jupiter hits the constellation Scorpio above the orbit just at the beginning of the simanu month is a very rare event. It repeats about every 150 years, with a few of these “hit” every 12 years. And what can be found out when it was mentioned above that Mars and Mercury were close together?

    So above PM admits that he had no choice but to date this to 568. It's a very rare event. The chart showed that while Jupiter finds Scorpio just about every 12 years, it only happens at the beginning of the month Simanu (month III) every 150 years. And what about Mars and Mercury so close? Will we get another chance to see the WTS date of 586 evidenced here?

    Mars and Mercury in front of the Lion In the clay tablet, VAT 4956 reads the following on line 12:

    Mars and Mercury were 4 cubits in front of [Leonis ….]

    This was at the end of the last day of the time of the ajaru month, in 568 BC this was 20th June. The orbit of Mars around the sun is 686 days, or about 1 year, 10 months, and 21 days.5 In the meantime, this similarity does not appear to be found in the other years mentioned earlier. At that point, the translator has marked the name of the constellation “Leonis” in square brackets. It could suggest that the name of that constellation in the clay tablet is a bit damaged. But when comparing the years in the table above, Mars and Mercury were not close in those other years at the beginning of the same month.

    So, PM is still stuck with 568, the only year in which the first part of the data fits (Jupiter in Scorpio in month Simanu), and further confirmed with the next part of the planetary data (Mars and Mercury together in front of Leo). But next we can see why PM brought it up.

    Admittedly, that mention in VAT 4956 “at a distance of four cubits” would not properly fit the year 568 BC either. Let’s take a small screenshot of this on the next page, which also shows the Virgo constellation next to it. Comparing that distance to the previous image from the 8th day of the month of Nisannu, it appears that Mars and Mercury were only one cubic distance from the constellation Lion. Because it seems likely that VAT 4956 describes in 568 BC. astronomical phenomena, this would seem to suggest that the second error of Babylonian astrologers.

    It's because this is evidently the second mistake on the tablet. Possibly another typo. Just like the only previous example from the tablet, when Nisannu 8 lists either the wrong star or was a typo for Nisannu 9.

    PM does not try for an explanation of these these two typos, and does not try to say that they both point to another year. But there is one more reading for the month of Simanu, and it's about an eclipse on the 15th of the month.

    Lunar eclipse 568 BC The clay tablet VAT 4956 also states that there was a lunar eclipse on the 15th of the simanu month. July 4, 568 BC, has been applied to this lunar eclipse. This eclipse was not visible in Babylon. Line 17 describes this event as follows: 

    A lunar eclipse which was omitted

    Scholars generally believe that this lunar eclipse was predicted in advance, and now that the predicted time came, the Babylonian scribe stated that the eclipse was not visible.

    So far, so good. We know from dozens of other eclipse reports that the expression "which was omitted" shows that the observers knew that an eclipse was predicted for the date, but expected to be invisible due to the time of day which would have put it below the horizon.

    We can easily check an astronomy program to see if the Babylonians were right (as usual) about their eclipse predictions, and they were. So what is it that PM thinks he can do with this eclipse, that we don't already know? I think the jump in logic is so amazing that I will discuss it in another post by itself.

  4. So, now we can return to Mansikka's comments regarding VAT 4956.

    1. Clay tablet VAT 4956 The first line of this clay tablet says of its date: “In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.”2 Scholars have applied the information in this clay tablet to 568 BC.3 It has been perhaps the prisoner’s justification for the present ancient chronology. However, it has major shortcomings. It is a pleasure now to present new researched information on this topic.

    P.M. admits that the first line dates it to NEB37 and that scholars date it to 568 BCE.

    • If NEB37 is 568 BCE, then NEB18 587 BCE. But the WTS says NEB18 is 607 BCE.

    So the attack plan is usually the same. Ask readers to think that almost all NB chronology is justified from this one artifact. (It isn't.) And then start focusing on the "typo" without admitting that most of the data is an excellent fit for the archaeological supported date.

    That's what P.M. does. Instead of pointing out that the opening rows actually start out with a perfect fit for 568 (and a bad fit for 588), P.M. skips down to the typo on line 3 and calls it "the opening rows." No mention that there is plenty of info on lines 1 and 2 and even additional info on line 3, that fits 568.

    Nisannu The opening rows of the clay tablet state that the moon was on the 9th day of the 1st month, or Nisannu, about an elbow away from the constellation Beta Virginis, or Virgo, “in front of it”. From this, the may have been in front of the imaginary “face” of the Virgo constellation. It could also be “in front of it” a little diagonally, even below the “hand”. According to scholars, in 568 BC. this distance was on April 29, which was the 8th day of the month of Nisannu. Scholars have argued that the Babylonian scribe made a mistake at this point.

    [picture of] Moon and Virgo constellation April 29, 568 BC. (8th Nisannu); Babylon, Iraq

    If there is an error, what is the cause of that error? Or could it be that no mistake has been made in that matter? 

    Very clever. Just like "Sally's father" who dismisses the majority of good readings just so he can make something out of the typo. This one date typo (or perhaps a correct date but a misidentified star in the same constellation) doesn't actually fit 588 BCE, anyway, which would be the WTS chronology goal. Furuli and others have tried to make it seem like it fits, but it takes so much inconsistent manipulation of the evidence that Mansikka has obviously given up. He has looked at the attempts to do this by Furuli but he could not make enough of them work, so he dismissed Furuli's ideas and came up with his own explanation. Good, so far.

    But then Mansikka makes the most illogical blunders, and still somehow (of course) ends up with a conclusion (spoiler alert):

    Thus, these historical data could come from the actual 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II, i.e. 588 BC.

    I'll deal with the in between stuff soon enough.

  5. In the above "analogy," Sally's father flails wildly to make sure Sally's mother thinks that Sally's age-16 diary is fake, not Sally's. Or if it is Sally's it must be from when she was 11, not when she was 16. Yet it was marked "Sally . . . Age 16." And it contained information only appropriate for Sally. (Did I mention that only Sally had a south window next to the garbage cans?)

    Sally's father makes up problems where there aren't any, resorts to specious reasoning, and focuses on an obvious small mistake and tries to make it negate all the rest of the diary. What would you think of such a man who could find dozens of correctly marked dates for 1996, but decides it must be another year altogether, because just one of the dates doesn't fit 1996?

    I'm sure most everyone knows by now that very few Witnesses have been willing to publicly discuss the evidence from the VAT 4956 diary. And some have done so in a very similar manner to "Sally's father." They go immediately for line with the "typo" and a couple of mistaken or misunderstood readings, and "forget" to mention that the other 27 readings are just fine. But there are also at least a few Witnesses who have been willing to publicly discuss the evidence without resorting to wild flailing and tantrums. Here's Gerard Gertoux's take on it (uploaded in 2017). And, for good measure, I've included Gertoux's context because it includes his take on the 763 BCE solar eclipse which is so important to Pekka Mansikka: (

      Hello guest!
    )

    Thus, as there are exactly 154 canonical eponyms between Gargamisaiu and Bur-Sagale, which is dated 763 BCE, that involves to date the one of Gargamisaiu into 609 (= 763 – 154).   
        The only solar eclipse over Assyria during the period 800-750 is the total eclipse dated June 15, 763 BCE. The partial solar eclipses dated June 4, 800 BCE and June 24, 791 BCE were not able to be viewed over Assyria.
    • The fall of the Assyrian empire, which took place in October 609 BCE after the battle of Harran, is characterized by a quadruple synchronisms, since the year of Assur-uballit II corresponds to year 17 of Nabopolassar to Josiah's year 31 and year 1 of Necho II.
    • According to the biography of Adad-Guppi12, mother of Nabonidus, Nabopolassar reigned 21 years, then Nebuchadnezzar 43 years, Amel-Marduk 2 years, Neriglissar 4 years just before Nabonidus. According to the Hillah's stele13 there were 54 years between the destruction of the temple of Sin, in Harran, and the beginning of the reign of Nabonidus. According to a Babylonian chronicle (BM 21901)14 and Adad-Guppi's stele, the temple of Harran was destroyed in the year 16 of Nabopolassar.
    • Dated lunar eclipses15 are: year 1 and 2 of Merodachbaladan (March 19/20 721 BCEMarch 8/9 and September 1/2 720 BCE); year 5 of Nabopolassar (April 21/22 621 BCE); year 2 of Samas-suma-ukîn (April 10/11 666 BCE); year 42 of Nebuchadnezzar (March 2/3 562 BCE). A diary (VAT 4956)16 contains numerous astronomical conjunctions in years 37 and 38 of Nebuchadnezzar dated from astronomy in 568 and 567 BCE. An astronomical journal (BM 38462)17 list some lunar eclipses in the years 1 to 27 of Nebuchadnezzar which are dated from 604 to 578 BCE.
    • ------------Footnotes:-------------
    • 12 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
      Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press p. 560-561.
      13 P.A. BEAULIEU – The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon 556-539 B.C.
      in: Yale Near Eastern Research 10 (1989) n°2.
      14 J.J. GLASSNER – Chroniques mésopotamiennes n°22
      Paris 1993 Éd. Belles Lettres pp. 193-197.
      15 F.R. STEPHENSON - Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation
      Cambridge 1997 Ed. Cambridge University Press pp. 99-100, 151-152, 206.
      16 A.J. SACHS, H. HUNGER - Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia vol. I .
      Wien 1988 Ed. Akademie der Wissenschaften (n° -567).
      17 H. HUNGER - Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia vol. V n° 6
      Wien 2001 Ed. Akademie der Wissenschaften pp. 27-30,396.
     
    Gertoux provides an exact fit for the chart I provided earlier. He even has an extra few verified points that I had not checked yet, such as dating year 42 of Nebuchadnezzar to 563/2 and year 5 of Nabopolassar to 621 and the battle of Harran to 609 (Nabopolassar's 17th year), etc. I will add the green highlight in the top row after I have checked these myself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
      625 624 623 622 621 620 619 618 617 616 615 614 613 612 611 610 609 608 607 606 605 604 603 602 601 600 599 598 597 596 595 594 593 592 591 590 589 588 587 586 585 584 583 582 581 580 579 578 577 576 575 574 573 572 571 570 569 568 567 566 565 564 563 562 561 560 559 558 557 556 555 554 553 552 551 550 549 548 547 546 545 544 543 542 541 540 539 538 537 536 535 534 533 532 531 530
      N A B O P O L A S S A R (21 years) N E B U C H A D N E Z Z A R II (reigned for 43 years) E-M Nerig- lissar N A B O N I D U S (17) C Y R U S
      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 1 2 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  6. If anyone got through all that reading, they surely won't mind indulging me in a little story about a girl who had trouble sleeping, so she kept a "sleep diary" for a few months. I think that a few here will already understand it even before I begin:

    It's 2021. Sally is grown now, about 40 years old, born in 1980, and had already moved out of her parents' house 10 years earlier. But her mother finds the diary while cleaning the basement, and reads a few of the entries:

    Sally's Sleep Diary. Age 16.

    • Monday, January 8. Got up at 2 am. Cold. Saw one of those circular halos around the moon, a gray frosty circle through the skylight in kitchen. Cool.
    • Monday, January 29. Woke up around 1:30 am with TV on. Must have fallen asleep during Super Bowl. Wanted to see Joe Montana. Wonder who won?
    • Thursday, February 29. Went out for pizza in afternoon with Sarah. Got back before sundown at 5:30. Stomach bothered me until well after midnight. Lactose intolerance?
    • Friday, March 15. Raccoons rustling in garbage kept me awake. Looked out the south window with flashlight and one looked very sick. Might have rabies.
    • Tuesday, July 30. Got up well before sunrise today. The moon was full and bright through my east-facing window.
    • Wednesday, July 31. Slept in late this morning, rained all day, sun didn't come out until 7:30pm. Saw a very spectacular rainbow out my east window, just before sunset. Glad I didn't go to bed early.
    • Thursday, Sept 4. Couldn't sleep. Rain pounded the skylight loudly and the street drain must have clogged. Because water was  several inches at the sidewalk and even came halfway up the driveway.

    The mother shows the father, and says:

    "Oh look at this dear. I found Sally's diary from when she was only 16. Let's see. What year was that? She was born in 1980, so that must have been 1996."

    But the husband says:

    "Now just wait a minute, dear. You are too trusting, too naive. We have 4 daughters, remember. We know that Sally was the one who had sleep problems, and she was the one with lactose intolerance, and she was our only daughter in the southeast bedroom with those two windows, and she was the only one who had a friend named Sarah, and she did kind of have a crush on Joe Montana. Why? I'll never know. But this diary might still be a product of deceit. Who says that this is really even about Sally? One of our other daughters could have been faking the name because they didn't want to use their own name for some reason, and wanted you to find this 20 years later. Besides, everyone knows that Super Bowls are on Sunday not Monday. And Sally didn't know that much about football, so it might have been a playoff game or some other game that Joe Montana was in. Let me look into this and try to see if it might be a fake."

    Two days later, the husband has the "proof" that this is a fake diary:

    OK, dear. Now I know that it must be fake.

    1. When a TV is on just after midnight, most people see this as the date the TV was left on, Sunday, not Monday. Even TV Guide lists late night TV under Sunday night, even though the diary is technically right that it was Monday because it's after midnight.
    2. On February 29, the sun went down at 5:45, not 5:30 as she stated in the diary. That mistake makes me suspicious, too.
    3. The moon was not full until July 31, and she says it was full on July 30. I looked it up. So why would she say she saw the full moon?
    4. And the final proof is that she said "Thursday, September 4," and September 4th was a Wednesday, not a Thursday. All the others are right for 1996 but this mistake shows it wasn't really written in 1996.
    5. So I looked into it, and the most recent THURSDAY, September 4th was not in 1995, or 1994, or 1993, or 1992. It was in 1991. So this diary might be hers, but it MUST have been written in 1991, when she was only 11 years old.

    The wife replies:

    "But wait, dear. . . .

    • 1991 was not a leap year with a February 29th.
    • And Joe Montana was out for the 1991 season with a bad arm.
    • And she probably wrote that entry about the Super Bowl on Monday morning, like she says. Joe Montana was in the Super Bowl the night before.
    • And she said she got home before sundown at 5:30, not at sundown at 5:45pm.
    • And the difference between the full moon on July 30 and the full moon on July 31st is negligible.
    • And a lot of people accidentally write down the wrong day of the week, especially in the summer when they are not on a weekly school schedule -- you've done it yourself."
    • And besides, there are 30 entries, these are just the first 5, and there are no problems at all with any of the others.
    • And if she was only 11, why would she call it "Sally's Sleep Diary. Age 16" ???

    Husband:

    Who are you to question your husband? You charlatan!!! You Devil-influenced apostate!!!

  7. Pekka Mansikka is not Furuli. But several of his arguments align with Furuli, and he references Furuli as a source. The arguments inherited from Furuli should be honestly evaluated before anyone takes them seriously. The author(s) at vat4956.com have paraphrased Furuli's arguments, and, most unfortunately, so did the Watchtower artilcle mentioned above:

    *** w11 11/1 p. 28 When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two ***
    11. Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts From Babylonia, Volume V, edited by Hermann Hunger, published 2001, pages 2-3.

     

  8. Because the entire review by Hunger is a bit hard to find unless one uses the "Wayback Machine" at archive.internet.com.

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    Here is the entire review of Furuli's book by Hermann Hunger. The remainder of this post is the full review:

    ---------

    Furuli, Rolf J., Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian Chronology. Volume II of Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible. Oslo, Awatu Publishers, 2nd ed., 2008. 376 pp., numerous photos and tables. – Reviewed by Professor Hermann Hunger, Vienna, Austria.

    Editorial comment:

    In his work on the chronology of the Ancient Near East Dr. Rolf Furuli in Oslo, Norway devotes much space to ancient astronomy. His discussion of the ancient Babylonian astronomical cuneiform tablets covers more than 140 pages. Of these, 93 pages – about a quarter of the book – contain a detailed astronomical and linguistic analysis of one particular tablet: VAT 4956, an astronomical “diary” dated to the 37th year of the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. It is most appropriate, therefore, that Rolf Furuli’s work is here reviewed by Professor Hermann Hunger, who not only is a world-famous authority on cuneiform and the languages of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, but who is also the leading expert on the astronomical observational cuneiform tablets. He has for decades been studying and translating these texts. His transcriptions and translations have so far been published in five large-sized volumes.

        Most of the references in Professor Hunger’s review to various works and articles are given in abbreviated form. The full titles are given in a reference list at the end of the review.

     

    After a preface and an introduction on “Assumptions and Perspectives”, the book has three parts, one each for Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian, and Egyptian chronology. There is a closing chapter “Open-mindedness and the study of ancient chronology”, 6 appendices, and a bibliography.

     

    “Assumption and Perspectives” (p. 17-26)

    The introduction begins with a famous error from medicine about spinach which went undetected for a long time because people did not check the sources. Then it is noted that “presuppositions tend to color interpretations”, and that presuppositions ought to be clearly stated.

        I am completely on F.’s side that “truth” is not decided by “the consensus of the majority of scholars”. If truth cannot be found, the consensus may be of some help.

        Most of the introduction tries to show that chronology is uncertain because assumptions and interpretations are not certain. As an illustration F. mentions cuneiform tablets dated to Nebuchadnezzar and Amel-Marduk that seem to show that tablets were dated to a king after his death. F. states that the “traditional chronology” is based on Ptolemy, but this is at least an abbreviation: part of the basis of the “traditional chronology” is the so-called “Canon of Ptolemy”, which was included in some manuscripts of his “Handy Tables”. However, this list must be older than Ptolemy because such a list was needed by astronomers long before him.

        On p. 26 F. declares as the “approach of this book” that “the Bible, cuneiform tablets, and different kinds of historical data are put on the same level”. This overlooks the differences between these data: literature cannot be treated in the same way as daily records; royal inscriptions may stress the king’s achievements and forget his failures; texts far removed from the events they describe may be less reliable than those composed close to the time of the events, etc. A critical evaluation of the sources is unavoidable for history writing.

     

    “PART ONE:  THE NEO-BABYLONIAN EMPIRE” (p. 27-133)

    The section on the Neo-Babylonian Empire begins with the heading of Chapter 1: “The Neo-Babylonian and Biblical Chronology contradict one another” (p. 28-43).

        F. first notes some of the sources for the traditional chronology, ascribing it to Ptolemy, and then claims: “the Bible says explicitly that Jerusalem was a desolate waste for a full 70 years” (p. 30). By assuming that Babylon was conquered by Cyrus in 539 and the Jews returned in 537, then “we reach the year 607 as the time for Jerusalem’s destruction”. This is the basic point of F.’s “Oslo chronology”.

        The statements about the full 70 years of desolation are not necessarily supported by the Biblical texts, as can be seen from C. O. Jonsson, The Gentile Times Reconsidered (4th ed., 2004), p. 191-235. F. presents his point of view on p. 32ff.

     

    Chapter 2 (p. 44-55) is used to cast doubts on the cuneiform texts concerning Neo-Babylonian history, the chronicles and royal inscriptions.

     

    Chapter 3 (p. 56-66) concerns business documents. F. begins with examples of errors by scholars in reading tablets (p. 56 note 60: a restoration is a modern scholar’s assumption which may be wrong, as in the case quoted; on the other hand, the extent to which the writing of a sign can vary does not depend on modern readers). F. then uses the unclear sequence of rulers towards the end of the Assyrian Empire to pretend that the tablets do not fit the traditional chronology. Note 66 on p. 58 is meant to prepare the way for the identification of Kandalanu and Nabopolassar. F. refers to the Akitu Chronicle, which states that “arki mKan-da-la-nu (‘after Kandalanu’), in the accession year of Nabopolassar”, claiming that arki mKan-da-la-nu can also be translated “thereafter Kandalanu” or “this other Kandalanu”. However, arki Kandalanu can NOT mean “this other Kandalanu”.

        The change of reign from Nebuchadnezzar to Amel-Marduk and Neriglissar is documented in NBC 4897; because this contradicts F.’s chronology, he says it “cannot be used” (see below on

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    ).

     

    Chapter 4 (p. 67-89) looks for Neo-Babylonian kings not mentioned by Ptolemy (i.e., in the Ptolemaic Canon).

        Right away, on p. 67, one purpose of the discussion is stated: “if we have to push the reigns just one year back, VAT 4956 is valueless as a chronological witness”. I do not understand this: why is VAT 4956 valueless if we push back the chronology? We will have a hard time to push back the chronology because VAT 4956 simply provides a date for year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar.

        Since there were several pretenders to the Babylonian and Assyrian throne after Assurbanipal, adding up all their attested years leads to more years than are assumed in the traditional chronology. But of course this need not be a correct approach because some kings may have ruled at the same time.

        P. 73: Nabû-na’id’s inscriptions sometimes add adjectives to the word for reign (palû), like damqu or kinu. But palû does not refer to specific years of his reign, but to his reign in general. Therefore he qualifies it as “good” or “reliable, legitimate”. One cannot expect that a Babylonian king would ever consider his reign as not legitimate. No chronological inferences can be made from this use of words.

        P. 79: The Dynastic prophecy does not include all kings, and therefore is useless for chronology. The words “For three years” (broken before and after) need not even refer to a length of reign.

        P. 80: Another possible unknown Neo-Babylonian king suggested by F. he finds in the signs for the name idAG-GI on a tablet published by M. Jursa in 1997. F. erroneously transcribes the name as Nabû-šalim. But a name Nabû-šalim would mean “Nabû is well”, and this is not an appropriate statement (F.’s wrong translation: “Let Nabû have peace” is equally blasphemous). If GI stands for šalāmu, only -mušallim or -ušallim would make sense.

        P. 82: Why does a man named Mar-šarri-uur have to be a king? On the contrary this is a servant’s name.

        I have only remarked on some incorrect details. Throughout this chapter, the reader is presented with possible reasons for doubts about the traditional chronology, although no conclusions are offered. But the tendency to expand the length of the Neo-Babylonian Empire is always present. – [For additional details on chapter 4, see:

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    - eds.]

     

    Chapter 5 (p. 90-95) deals with the astronomical diaries. First, the possibility of errors is stressed. Then, the asymmetric preservation is described: only few diaries exist from before 400 BC, and some of these are copies. To say that they are virtually non-existing is not justified; there are just few of them. F. turns the argument around and says that diaries were not made during that time. Since there exist tablets that contain planetary observations from this period, F. immediately suspects them to represent backward calculations. However, the positions obtained by calculating backwards would soon have been rather wrong. At least one could see by modern calculations that they were wrong. However, there is no reason why backward calculation should have been done at all (see below on

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    ).

        In his summary, the existence of astronomical observation in the Neo-Babylonian Empire is denied.

     

    Chapter 6 (p. 96-125) deals with VAT 4956, called the “most important astronomical diary”. Most of the details are found again in Appendix C, but some have to be discussed here.

        I had the privilege to complete an edition of this tablet from a manuscript by A. J. Sachs in

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    , vol. I. It will therefore be understandable that I respond in detail to F.’s statements which imply that I did a bad job. Of course any errors in the edition (two have been found, but are of no chronological consequence) are my responsibility. For the edition, I used the published copy of E. Weidner and a photo from a negative in the collection of the Vorderasiatische Museum which certainly was made before World War II. I did not collate the original. As will be seen immediately, I am very lucky that I never had this tablet in my hand!

        Right away, the possibility is entertained that the tablet is a forgery. An excursus on modern forgeries is brought to strengthen the possibility. However, these modern forgeries are made by molds, so they cannot contain information not originally present on a genuine tablet. If VAT 4956 were such a forgery, it would still give us the picture of a genuine tablet.

        The tablet was bought in Baghdad and came to the Vorderasiatische Museum in 1906. It is now baked and consists of three pieces glued together (p. 98). F. then describes “several strange things in connection with the publication of the tablet (p. 99). The first editors, P. V. Neugebauer and E. Weidner, did not mention that the tablet consisted of three pieces; F. thinks they ought to have mentioned it, and he raises the possibility that the tablet was not broken in 1915. He also thinks that it is strange that Weidner published line 18 of the reverse alone in 1912, and attributes this to Weidner’s competition with F. X. Kugler. In view of the importance of the tablet, Weidner ought to have published a copy as soon as possible. But a copy only appeared in 1953. F. concludes that Weidner and Neugebauer deliberately wanted to prevent colleagues from examining the original tablet, and that “they had something to hide” (p. 101). F. does not elaborate what they may have had to hide. I do not know the policy of the Vorderasiatische Museum at the time, but in general colleagues would have been allowed to see (and collate) a tablet that was already published. Nowadays one cannot ask Weidner any more for his reasons, but it is likely that they were not malicious. He may have been obliged to publish the copy in the Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler (published by the Museum), and there may have been financial problems in production during the 1920s. 

        The “strange features” which F. cannot explain as anything but “conscious tampering” will be discussed below (Appendix C). On p. 102 F. assumes that a “forger wrote the signs on the reverse side while he was looking at the original”. However, no modern forger would be able to copy cuneiform writing so as to seem original; years of scribal training are required. Besides, there is no way of successfully adding cuneiform writing to a dried tablet. The tablet would be too hard to produce the neat writing as is preserved on VAT 4956.

        P. 112: the passage concerning year 38 is a catch-line, giving the beginning of a tablet following the present tablet. Contrary to F.’s accusations it is extremely unlikely that a modern forger or tamperer would have bothered to add this. For an example of such a catch-line in another diary, see Diaries I p. 476f. No. -168 line A21’: the diary concerns months V to VIII, and the catch-line is the beginning of month IX. The existence of this catch-line on VAT 4956 is of course no indication that “the scribe had an agenda”.

        The following pages present more or less F.’s results from more detailed discussions in Appendix C, so I shall restrict myself to a few remarks.

        P. 117: F.’s argumentation that the use of the words “at that time” signifies “some uncertainty” and indicate that positions were “calculated rather than observed” is mistaken. inušu “at that time” introduces a summary of planetary positions; there is no uncertainty involved. In later diaries, this summary is usually placed at the end of each monthly section.

        P. 119: F. argues that the data on VAT 4956 stem from different sources, stating: “In lines 6 and 7, river levels and a report of the killing of someone at the order of the king are reported for an intercalary Addaru. This must refer to the previous year or to another year and would require a tablet different from those reporting lunar and planetary data. Yet this anomalous intercalary Addaru is found on VAT 4956 between months I and II.” However, lines 6 and 7 first report a change in river level that happened to stretch from the preceding intercalary Addaru to the current month. The killing of someone at the order of the king is not connected to this time span, but happened in month I; the day number, now broken, must have been mentioned in line 6. This is no indication of different sources.

        Further, F. holds that the diary was composed in Seleucid times, because “to view the constellations as animals, either alone, or as representing the 12 zodiacal signs, was a late custom, and there is no evidence of the zodiac from the Neo-Babylonian Empire or earlier.” To view some constellations as animals is not at all a late custom; the

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    document from the early first millennium BC is full of such names, including their parts. These expressions can therefore NOT be used as an argument that the tablet was composed in Seleucid times.

        P. 122: In support of the claim that someone has tampered with the tablet F. states that the first line, where the date and the name of the king had been written, “is partly erased”. But in my opinion, the first line is not partly erased, but partly damaged.

        On this page, the suspicion that someone tampered with the tablet in modern times has, in F.’s mind, already become “evidence”.

        P. 123:  Attempting to add 20 years to the Neo-Babylonian period F. suggests that the tablet originally was dated to year “57”, which a modern scholar changed to “37”. He says: “A person in the first part of the nineteenth century saw that the celestial positions fit 568/67 well, and on the basis of the accepted chronology he concluded that 57 was an error for 37.” However, no person in the first part of the 19th century would have been able to understand the celestial positions; the first reliable identifications of stars were made by Epping in 1881.

        I too can see what F. calls a “small angular wedge” under the three bigger (and clearer) angular wedges. This small impression is oriented differently and less deep; I consider(ed) it a scratch, not a wedge.

        As for someone adding the numbers 37 and 38, there is no way of successfully adding cuneiform writing to a dried tablet. The tablet would be too hard to produce a neat writing as is preserved on VAT 4956. There are examples of tablets which were inscribed after they had started to dry; this can be recognized easily (see e.g.

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    pl. 209 No. -104 Rev.).

        Also, only trained scribes can produce writing that looks like the ancient one. The modern fakes which F. discusses on p. 96f. are produced from molds, so they are not pertinent.

     

    Chapter 7:  Other Astronomical Tablets (p. 126-133)

    (

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    1421, 1415, 1416, 1417, 1419, 1420, 1386; the Saturn tablets SBTU IV No. 171 and BM 76738+76813)

     

    P. 127f.: in LBAT 1421, it is not “difficult to explain” why the number 45 can come before year 42: 45 is not a year number.

        F. confuses the intercalary months for years 36 and 41 of Nebuchadnezzar: according to

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    p. 5, year 36 had an intercalary Addaru, and year 41 an intercalary Ululu. Apart from this, F. inserts an unattested intercalary month between these years in order to displace the lunar eclipses of year 42 so that they do not fit 563 BC! F.’s proposal however is wrong even on his own assumptions: the eclipse of October 16, 583 BC occurs in month VII, and there was no eclipse in month XII (on March 13, 582 BC, the earth’s shadow missed the moon, see Huber & De Meis, Bab. Eclipse Observations, p. 186; consequently, no eclipse is listed in Kudlek & Mickler). LBAT 1421 may not prove any chronology but it agrees with the traditional one.

        In the meantime, F. has claimed on the ANE-2 internet forum that LBAT 1421 refers to year 42 of Artaxerxes I (for F., 433/2 BC), but this too can be proven to be incorrect. (See:

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    and

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    )

     

    “PART TWO:  THE NEO-ASSYRIAN EMPIRE” (Chapters 8-13, p. 134-237)

    The second part discusses the Chronology of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

        This section begins on p. 134 with synchronisms between the Bible and Assyrian sources. These show that the chronologies cannot easily be brought in agreement. F. spends much time on discussing possible errors in Assyrian sources and on trying to undermine the reliability of king and eponym lists.

     

    In Chapter 11 (p. 183-195), F. tries to add years to the Neo-Assyrian Empire by attributing longer reigns to some kings (from dubious sources) or by confusing their rule in Babylonia or Assyria.

     

    Chapter 12 (p. 196-212) treats the “last kings of Assyria and their Babylonian counterparts”. First, the identity of Kandalanu is discussed. F. proposes to identify him with Nabopolassar.

        On p. 203, F. stresses the many possible readings of cuneiform signs. But while this is true in a general way, it does not justify confusing signs which are different. There may be occurrences of nu which look like pap, and vice versa. But in principle there is a clear difference between them, as can be seen from

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    ’s sign list. So taking the sign nu as pap and reading it as a logogram for naaru requires supporting evidence; otherwise it remains a reading mistake.

        As a next step, F. contends that the sign kan is similar to ag, and that therefore the beginning of the name Kandalanu can be read AG and refer to the god Nabû. No mention is made of the required divine determinative. I looked up p. 33 and No. 143 in Labat, and I do not see the similarity postulated by F.

        Having by two misreadings made the name Kan-da-la-nu somewhat similar to Nabû-apla-uur, F. still has to equate da-la with apla. The signs read ibila are NOT the same as tur (Labat 144); F. misunderstands Labat. peš and gal are not variants of the same sign; only peš-gal is attested as a (rare) logogram for aplu. F. then suggests that dal-la (sic; the signs written are da-la) could be a “direct reference to” aplu or synonymous with aplu because dallu is associated with the idea little. Actually, dallu means “inferior”.

        Confusion continues with the claim that kan could also be read šarru (LUGAL). Only a very sloppy LUGAL could approach the appearance of kan. However, this is not enough for F.: the reading šarru is replaced by bel, in order to produce a god’s name. In the next lines, Bel turns into Nabû without further discussion. The following paragraphs elaborate on how to make Bel (=Marduk) and Nabû synonyms. This is all added to confuse the reader more and more into making him believe that something real may be in these speculations. Just a philological note: F. keeps translating imperatives (uur “guard!”) by precative forms (“let ... save”); but there is a separate precative form in Akkadian, in this case liṣṣur.

        For one more text suggesting the impossibility of equating Kandalanu and Nabopolassar see

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    , No. 52, where in col. II events in the time of Kandalanu are followed by events in the time of Nabopolassar, clearly considered separate persons.

     

    Chapter 13 (p. 213-237) presents new chronological schemes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In the first paragraph, we read “the eclipse of the sun in the eponymy of Bur-Sagale can refer to any one of several eclipses”.

        The solar eclipse in the eponymy of Bur-Sagale had to be impressive because an unexpected solar eclipse will only be noticed when it is total or almost total; even when 95% of the sun is eclipsed there is no noticeable diminution of brightness.

        The importance of this eclipse for dating the Assyrian eponym list is widely assumed, and therefore efforts are made by some people to undermine it. I noticed such an attempt recently on “Wikipedia”, and commented on it in

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    35 (2008) 323-325. For an English translation, see: 
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        F. also negates its value. On p. 247 he says that it is an issue of “faith versus faith: Do we believe that the solar eclipse of 763 is the one reported in the eponymy of Bur-Sagale, or do we believe in the chronology of 2 Kings?” One can however date the eponym list astronomically by other means than the solar eclipse. As shown in the above-mentioned article, there are other astronomical tablets from the seventh and eighth centuries BC that independently of each other support the traditional chronology for this period, including the date established for the solar eclipse.

        We can therefore identify the solar eclipse in the eponym list as that of 763 BC. At the same time, the traditional chronology of Assyria in the 1st millennium BC remains correct. Occasional wrongly identified eponyms or kings’ names in dates cannot detract from this.

        Whether there exists a chronology in the Bible that contradicts the traditional Assyrian chronology can be left to Bible scholars. Whatever they find may be independent of Assyrian chronology, but cannot change it.

     

     

    “PART THREE:  THE EGYPTIAN EMPIRE” (p. 238-245)

    Chapter 14: “Egyptian Chronology” is dealt with on p. 238-245 very briefly. According to F., it cannot be absolutely dated and does not help to decide problems encountered in Babylonia and Assyria.

     

    “Open-mindedness and the Study of Ancient Chronology”

    The final chapter (15) talks of open-mindedness: since “any ancient chronological scheme is built on subjective interpretations, assumptions, and paradigms”, we should “manifest a humble attitude instead of insisting that our chronological scheme is the only correct one” (p. 246). F. then lists his main points why VAT 4956 is supposed not to be a usable chronological witness.

        In the end, F. reminds us that “we should weigh everything carefully” (p. 250). Having done so, and remembering the “spinach example”, I do not accept the many wrong arguments brought against the “traditional chronology” although these are printed in this book.

     

    APPENDICES:

    Appendix A:  An Analysis of the Ledger NBC 4897 from the Eanna Temple”

    Appendix A (p. 251-262) was dealt with by C. O. Jonsson at:

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    .

        His result is: “The tablet NBC 4897 does show, clearly, that Nebuchadnezzar ruled for 43 years, and that his son and successor Amel-Marduk ruled for 2 years and was succeeded by Neriglissar”. The suspicions and suppositions of F. can therefore be disregarded.

     

    “Appendix B:  An Analysis of the Celestial Positions of [the diary] BM 32312” (p. 263-270) 

    F. uses the horizon system (altitude and azimuth) for planetary positions. This is not practical because one has to decide for which time of the night the positions are to be found. Whether an entry on the tablet is “right or wrong” could more easily be determined by longitude and latitude.

        Line i, 7: there is no day connected to this entry about Mercury’s and Saturn’s last appearances, but it is placed between the 14th and the 17th. As the text explicitly says, these phenomena were not observed because of bad weather. The guesses were not very good; for Mercury it is too early, for Saturn too late.

        Line i, 10: “it [Mars] came close” is not a vague formulation. As can be seen from line iv 15’f., “it came close” is the equivalent of a distance of 1 finger between the planet and a star. But even if it were a vague formulation, it does not necessarily imply calculation.

        I do not see why the words “lip” and “head” of the Scorpion suggest a zodiacal sign. On the contrary, they suggest an animal picture. A zodiacal sign would be referred to by “beginning” or “end”, if a more precise indication than just a sign was intended. Therefore, the inference (note 296) that there is an inconsistency between lines 10 and 12 (which is again used to suspect that the tablet was calculated backwards) is wrong.

        Line iii, 4’: “20” was marked as uncertain by a question mark and cannot be used for calculations.

        Line iv, 15’: “conjunction” means that two celestial bodies have the same longitude. This does not necessarily imply that they are very near to each other.

        “Front” of Aries was an attempt to read the signs at the beginning of the line. Of course, it would have to mean a specific star of Aries, otherwise a distance makes no sense. I have not tried to identify which star could have been meant.

        In footnote 300, F. puts forward the idea that an “astrologer wrote the words in order to cause his readers to believe that the tablet contained genuine observations”; characteristically, F. accuses the ancient scribe of lying.

     

    “Appendix D : An Analysis of [the diary] VAT 4956” (p. 271-333)

    Section C1 (p. 271-274): “An analysis of the published drawing of the tablet”

    P. 271: A drawing of VAT 4956 by E. F. Weidner is found in

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    , 1953, XVI:2, Tafel XVII. F. states that “the name of the one who made the drawing is not found in the periodical”, but that the drawing was made by Weidner is explicitly stated on page 220.

        F. first states that “the drawing is not accurate” because, while the picture of the reverse shows that the break on the tablet “continues up to the top of the tablet”, on the drawing it stops earlier, “perhaps going up to line 4”. But in this case it is the same as “up to the top of the tablet”, because a piece is broken out above line 4. So there is no fault with Weidner’s copy here.

        “The four other lines” were not drawn with help of a straight scale; especially the line after the first section of the obverse, and after the first section of the reverse as well, are quite similar to the line below line 11, except for the small interruption in the middle.

        I don’t know whether Weidner did his copy from a photo or from the original.

        P. 274: this is a comparison between Weidner’s copy and F.’s photo. In some cases, one can be uncertain. I note the following corrections to F.’s contentions:

        L 15: the three horizontal wedges in the vertical break are clearly visible, while F. sees only two. The vertical wedge is visible, but damaged by the break.

        L 16: the four horizontal wedges in the vertical break are seen, but vaguely. F. sees only two on his photo.

        I don’t understand the numbers 2:1, 2:3 etc. I tried to follow the horizontal break and find the signs from F.’s description.

        2:1: all six heads are visible in the horizontal break. F. sees none on his photo.

        2:3: two horizontal wedges are visible. F. sees none.

        2:4: F. sees no wedge on his photo. I don’t understand it. The wedges drawn are there.

        2:7: of the “three heads” on the copy, F. sees none on his photo. If the sign “3” is meant, just before the horizontal break meets the vertical one, three heads can be nicely seen on the enlarged photo on p.  279.

        4:3: if this is in line 19, to the left of the break, then 6 wedges are seen, 4 even on F.’s photo (p. 281).

        4:4: the drawing shows dele-bad across the break, which F. calls “misleading”, as his photo shows only parts of the signs. But even if the break goes right through the signs dele-bad, this is not that misleading because dele-bad is absolutely clear.

        5:6: yes, the right upper wedge of “6” is lost in the break. If Weidner made his copy from the original, and if he did it soon after the tablet came to the Museum, one could argue that he still saw the wedge, and that it was lost later.

        6:7: this seems to be line 21. Four horizontal wedges are seen on the drawing; on the photo, they are not clear (why?), but I would take them to be four, see again the enlargement on p. 286.

        6:8: this is probably the sign TU (KU4 in my edition). In Weidner’s copy, the head of a vertical wedge is drawn on the upper side of the break; I assume F. means this by horizontal wedge. Its head is in fact missing on F.’s photo, lost in the break. This time I clearly see this lost head on my photo, and it is also clear on the reproduction on plate 3 of my edition. So this wedge definitely has been lost after Weidner’s copying.

        7:1: this is on the edge; a photo is found on p. 288. The sign is a clear BAR, one vertical and one horizontal wedge.

        7:4: the sign is not that obscure. It can be kalag: the lower part is partly broken off, but the right end of the lower horizontal is still visible.

        8:4: Contrary to F.’s statement, parts of two oblique heads can be seen on the photo, even on the blurred one on p. 289.

     

        So much for Weidner’s copy. On the following pages, its supposed mistakes are criticized again; I shall not comment on this.

     

    Section C2 (p. 274-291) poses the question:

    Do the three pieces of VAT 4956 belong together?”

    P. 274: “From line 7 to line 16, the signs ... are somewhat eroded or erased”. This is not the case.

        Table C.1 (p. 275, 276) contains “comments on the signs on the sides of the vertical break”. To these comments the following remarks have to be made:

        (Line) 3: the break goes through the number 19 but the reading is certain. F. tries to introduce an element of uncertainty by saying “we could have expected observations after day 19”. It is quite possible to have no observations for ten days.

        4: the sign gur is quite clear, in spite of the break going through it. The words to the left of the break and those on the right form a continuous, meaningful sequence (reporting on prices) which is very frequent in diaries. It is conclusive that both sides belong to the same tablet.

        6: Contrary to F.’s statement, there are only two horizontal wedges on the left side of the break; what he may have taken to be a wedge in the lower part of the sign is just a scratch. Also, there is no reason why the horizontal wedges should continue from the left side of the break to the right side. There are two horizontal wedges in the left part of the sign šap, and there are two or three in the right part, but those in the right part are not a continuation of the left ones, but start anew in the middle of the sign. Therefore, the alignment of the wedges can NOT suggest that the two pieces were not part of the same tablet.

        9: on the right side of the break, there is one horizontal, one oblique and one vertical wedge. This is exactly the shape of the sign qa. The description of qa given by F. (“one horizontal, and two oblique wedges”) is incorrect. All wedges required for the signs ib-bat-qa are correct and well visible.

        10: the break runs through the sign suhur; I don’t understand that there is no connection between right and left part. The wedges are NOT indistinct on the old photo, and Weidner’s copy represents them correctly. The somewhat abbreviated form of suhur used in the diaries can be seen e.g. on LBAT 176 rev. 4’ = No. -372 C rev. 4’ (

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    , p. 112, 113; see also photo on pl. 17 of the edition).

        11: I don’t see why there is no connection between left and right part: the number “1” is to the left of the break, and the measure gur is to the right of it.

        12: the sign ga2 is always slightly lower than hun, so the fact that they are of different height is of no significance. When talking about the sign hun, F. mistakes one vertical wedge to be a horizontal; thus he arrives at a wrong count. There is no vertical missing and no horizontal too much. Since the signs hun and ga2 form a meaningful word, there IS a connection between left and right part.

        13: The break is running through the first vertical wedge of the number “2”, and thus there IS a clear connection between left and right part.

        14: the sign a is clear on the photo, the upper vertical wedge is not lacking. The body of the upper horizontal wedge of kal is crossing the break; it is not lower on the right side than on the left. At least one of the two verticals in the middle is clearly visible on the photo. Therefore, this line does not speak against the left and right part belonging to one piece.

        15: the sign ulu3 is quite likely. There are, as expected, three horizontal wedges on the left. Two (or maybe three) small vertical wedges run through the lower two horizontals, again as expected. The final vertical’s head is damaged by the break, but part of the head and its body can be seen on the photo. This clearly speaks for the left and right part being on piece.

        16: the sign ge6 may not be seen by F., but most of it, three horizontals and one angular wedge, is clearly visible on the photo. There is an obvious continuation from left to right.

        17: there is no horizontal wedge continuing across the break as F. says. The right end of mah is damaged by the break, and the head of the horizontal wedge belonging to the sign “½” is lost in the break. The rest of this horizontal is visible on the right side of the break. It is therefore meaningless to connect this horizontal to anything on the left side of the break, and the position of these traces has no bearing on the question of the two pieces being one tablet.

     

        The analysis of Table C1 shows that there are NO instances that speak against the one-piece possibility. It is quite clear that the two pieces form a single tablet.

     

     P. 277ff. F. examines the signs on the horizontal break on the reverse and contends that “in some cases the upper parts are displaced to the left and in others to the right, while most letters have no displacement at all”.

        Figure C.4 (p. 279-281) deals with the first 7 signs on line 18.

        1: the heads of the vertical wedges of the sign “6” are small, but clearly visible. There is a displacement between the upper and the lower row; but this is not due to a displacement of the parts of the tablet, but to the way the sign is written. The upper row tends to be displaced to the left, or be more to the left than the lower row; this is even the case with the example F. brings from the obverse. The “something like the head of a horizontal wedge” to the left is a crack; a small piece is broken away at the edge, which is why neither S/H nor

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    mentioned this.

        2: the sign is si, and is “indistinct” only on F.’s blurred photo which accompanies C.4 (I cannot avoid noting that only the photos of the reverse are blurred, while those from the obverse are nice and clear!) In speaking of the angle of the upper horizontal wedge, F. may have mistaken the break for a trace of the wedge. Otherwise, his comments are obscure to me; there is no displacement visible. So the most natural conclusion is that this sign is a nice si, and can easily be compared to the si photographed from the obverse.

        3: the sign IS e. The two horizontal wedges are visible even on F.’s photo. There is no angle difference as F. states. On my (published) photo the upper horizontal can be seen in its entirety above the break; no angles are to be compared. The “right horizontal line” can only represent one horizontal wedge; I do not see how it can be displaced. The assertion that the space of this sign is broader on the lower part than on the upper comes from the fact that the upper of the two verticals on the right of the sign e is usually farther to the left than the lower one. We have seen a similar usage in writing the number 6 at the beginning of the line.

        In the old photo, the parts of the sign fit together perfectly.

        4: the sign IS gu4. I do not see any displacement in the upper horizontal (for the supposed displacement in the preceding sign e, see above). The two angular wedges at the right end of gu4 can be nicely seen on the old photo. The proposed alternative readings make no sense.

        6: “The LOP [lower piece] and UP [upper piece] are perfectly joined together in this place, and this fact, together with the fact that there is no displacement in the previous sign, shows that the displacements on the other signs are real.” (p.281) I do not understand the logic of this statement.

     

    P. 282ff. examines the signs along the right part of the horizontal break.

        Figure C.6 (line 18):

        1: it is a plausible conjecture to expect a measure after a number and before the words “below Venus”.

        2: the break is just above the right part of šap, and this is why nothing is seen on the upper part.

        3: dele-bad refers to Venus, not Mercury as F. states. The doubts voiced by F. about the sign bad are probably caused by the break going through the sign.

        5: the sign IS u3. The horizontal wedge of the “ši” part is visible, and the second part of the sign in Neo-Babylonian frequently has only three horizontal wedges, see Labat’s sign-list.

     

        Figure C.7 (line 19), p. 283, 284:

        1: F. says that the first part of a-kal “is not seen on the picture” (the close-up photo on p. 283). The sign is clear on the old photo, however, so the “picture” is irrelevant. I don’t know which a-kal on the obverse F. photographed, but the a-kal in line 6 looks very much like the one in rev. 19 – so NO difference in handwriting is discernible.

        3: the sign which F. copied from Labat is not in as he claims, but rab (L 149); the drawings in Labat are not aligned on the left and right page, but the situation is clarified by dashed lines. The correct Neo-Babylonian form of in corresponds well with the sign on the tablet. On a good photo (see S/H plate 3) the six angular wedges are visible.

        5: there is no doubt about the reading dele-bad. On F.s photo, it does indeed seem that parts of the two left wedges are displaced. On the old photo (S/H plate 3) there is no such displacement. If, as F. says, this “suggests that someone has tampered with the tablet”, then this happened after the old photo and the copy by Weidner were made. I very much hope that the displacement is only an artificial effect on F.’s photo.

        7: F. mentions possible different readings, but he does not propose a meaningful sentence to be derived from them. His proposals therefore have only the purpose to produce the impression of uncertainty.

     

        Figure C.8 (line 20), p. 285, 286:

        1: there is nothing strange about the two vertical wedges being deeper; the same is the case in the sign from the obverse compared by F.

        5: because F. took the wrong sign from Labat, the sign on the tablet looks different. There is NO doubt that it is in.

        6: see my remarks above on

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    .

        7: the sign was a nice gu4 (see photo in S/H plate 3), so F.’s alternative readings are ruled out. If it really is damaged now, this happened after Weidner’s copy. But F.’s photo may just be blurred.

     

        Figure C.9 (line 21), p. 286, 287:

        1: F. questions the earlier reading of the sign: “The wedges of signs one, two, and three are obscure. We simply cannot know how many signs there are and where each sign starts and ends. So the reading of the three signs ur-bar-ra, as both N/W and S/H have, is simply conjecture.” (p. 286) This contention is ridiculous; the reading of former editors was not conjecture, but reading. The signs are not obscure (see photo in S/H plate 3), and their shapes conform to Labat’s list.

        2: the sign for bar is obscure on F.’s photo only.

        3: see above to 1.

        6: the reading of the sign (sip) is clear. On F.’s detail photo it is blurred; his large photo on p. 272 and the old photo in S/H are better.

        8: see my remarks above to

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    on p. 274. The four angular wedges are visible on the old photo, and I see them also on F.’s photo. So the sign IS ku4.

     

        Figure C.10 (upper edge), p. 287, 288:

        1: there are not two horizontal wedges as F. contends, but one vertical and one horizontal. Because the head of the vertical wedge is very wide, one could mistake its right tip for a horizontal wedge body. Again, the sign is better visible on the old photo, S/H plate 1. It IS bar.

        3: there are two horizontal wedges in this sign, not one as F. claims; the body of the upper one is not visible because the vertical wedges were drawn on top of it. The last vertical consists of two wedges on top of each other; I can see this even on F.’s picture. The “mark” below the horizontal wedge is very weak and certainly fortuitous; there are several such “marks” on the same picture which are certainly not intentional.

        4: see my remark above on

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    on p. 274.

        5: the sign may be obscure on F.’s picture, but it is a clear ma on the old photo.

     

        Figure C.11 (upper edge): See my remark above on

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    on p. 274.

     

    Section C3 (p. 291-296):

    “A difference in handwriting on the obverse and reverse sides”

    There are always small differences possible in the handwriting of the same person. To show that handwritings are different, the differences must be clearly discernible and consistently used. Unfortunately, F. does not give the line numbers from which he took his examples. On the whole, there is a tendency to use blurred pictures, mostly of the reverse.

        usan: the differences are negligible; the same number of wedges is used.

        an-ki-an: the second horizontal of an on the right is small but visible. No remarkable difference otherwise.

        nu: the pictures are blurred and useless.

        si: the obverse sign does not have a horizontal wedge as F. claims, but a vertical one (as is required for si). The reverse sign is blurred and only partly photographed, so a comparison is not possible.

        kur4: the signs look similar to si above, but both pictures are blurred.

        dib: I don’t know which reverse sign is used but the picture is not clear. What can be seen is quite similar to the obverse sign.

        e: the reverse sign is indistinct on F.’s picture. For the obverse sign, F. again mistakes a vertical wedge for a horizontal.

        e3: a sign can be written more narrowly depending on how much space is available. I don’t see why F. believes that a different tool was used for the reverse.

        en: I don’t know what is “more ‘primitive’” in the reverse sign. Since the exact place is not given, one cannot look at the sign independently. The second vertical wedge does have a head even on F.’s photo, but it is less clear.

        gaz: the heads may look bigger on the picture but this probably comes from lighting. The lowest angular wedge is very similar in both signs; on the reverse, it is slightly longer.

        illu: the picture of the reverse is so bad that nothing can be compared.

        ku4: the missing angular wedges are only missing on the bad picture in the book.

        na: this time the obverse picture is useless. The shape of both signs is the same, but more cannot be seen.

        pisan: I don’t understand the comments of F. Both signs have two horizontal heads. Since the place where the signs are on the tablet is not indicated, comparison is impossible.

        In conclusion, there is NO evidence that two different scribes wrote obverse and reverse.

     

    Section C4 (p. 296-300) asks:

    “Is the name ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ and the numbers ‘37’ and ‘38’ original?”

    The section begins with a repetition of F.’s suspicion that the tablet may have been tampered with. Then a photo is presented of the number 37 in line 1. This photo is blurred, but F. bases his discussion on it. The signs are not erased, but slightly damaged; the same happened to the signs at the end of line 1. F. says that the last part of the number “can be 7, if the sign represents a number”. No cuneiform sign other than the number 7 has this form, so the if-clause is superfluous and misleading. If F. had looked at the old photo (in S/H plate 3), he could have seen that there are three angular wedges, as is required for “30”. He could also have seen that the “mark that could be the rest of a fourth angular or oblique wedge” is probably a scratch. It is definitely impossible to read the number 50 or even 40. It is strange that no kam occurs after 37; but since kam is present in the other instances of year numbers on the tablet, this can be assumed to be a mistake of the scribe.

        F. makes much of the different appearance of the number 38 on the edge of the tablet when compared to other numbers “8”. However, this difference can be explained by the fact that this line is written on the edge. In order to write on the edge, the tablet must be held with the edge up, and the hand cannot be put on the tablet to find support in writing. But whether this explanation is true or not, the number is clearly 38. To assume a different tool is not necessary, but if so the tool can only have been a reed stylus. A drill or grinding machine would never have produced marks like those of a stylus. Since the 37 on the edge is quite normal, F. admits that it may be original, but still supposes that someone may have tampered with the tablet and in this case may have had “a better result than in the case with the number 38” (p. 299).

        On p. 300, F. says, “The conclusion is that there are several clues that the dates were incised into the tablet in modern times, but the evidence is not conclusive either way.” Rather, the conclusion must be that incisions made in modern times are not proven. There exist experts in such matters who could have determined with certainty by which tool the impressions were made. No such experts were consulted by F.

     

    Section C5 (p. 300-316) considers the

    “Identification of the celestial bodies”

    Table C.2 examines the positions of planets and stars.

        (Line) 2: the sign an can refer to Mars as F. says, but not here where it is a determinative. In S/H, sim was assumed to be an abbreviation of sim-mah which is a word for swallow. The translation is literal, but from other texts it is known that the “swallow” is a part of Pisces. The other readings for the sign sim listed by F. are simply wrong, they refer to different signs. If the sign were damaged, one could think about these readings, but the sign is clear. Therefore, only the first two of F.’s six translation proposals are meaningful (“‘Saturn was in front of sim.’ ‘Saturn was in front of Pisces.’”).

        4: ana ūmi elû is a technical term for “acronychal rising”. Other translations are misunderstandings. The meaning of the text is certain. Acronychal rising in 568 BC is calculated for Month I, day 14. In 588 BC, it occurred in month VI; so 588 BC does not fit, contrary to F’s claim that “the information fits both 588 and 568”.

        9: genna is given in Labat only in its Assyrian form, but Labat states that it is composed of TUR+DIŠ. This has two vertical wedges, contrary to F.’s statement. On VAT 4956, the sign is composed of TUR in its Neo-Babylonian form plus DIŠ (a single vertical). The remaining comments of F. on the sign are all wrong.

        ina igi cannot mean “be visible”. If igi is to be read as a form of amaru, ina amari means “in seeing”. But here igi is to be read panu “front”.

        The comments on sim are as wrong as before. Similarly, F.’s comments on mah concern things not written on the tablet and can be disregarded. The remaining “possibilities” only exist as long as one does not try to produce a correct Akkadian sentence; once this is taken into account, the meanings are clear.

        10: The dele of dele-bad is clearly visible on the old photo. And the sign is NOT tar as F. states. The words about Venus are the remnants of an observation of the moon which is said to have stood to the west of Venus. The formulation is quite characteristic and can be found frequently in later diaries, for instance in No. ‑378:11’. F. says “The words can be interpreted in different ways and fit both 588 and 568 B.C.E.”; but in 588 Venus was a morning star which does not fit the text.

       10: the discussion of alla and ku4 introduces signs which are not visible on the tablet and are therefore of no significance. It has to be stressed however that ku4 is correctly written, and it looks exactly like the Neo-Babylonian form given in Labat.

        The comments about ud and du are an excellent example of how readers can be led by F. to think that there are possible meanings to the signs which have been overlooked by earlier translators. F. says on p. 304 that “using ‘Praesepe’ as a reference for alla is, to the best of my knowledge, without parallel in the other diaries, and should not be used”. But there are similar expressions in ADRT V No. 54 rev. III 17’ and 61 rev. III 16, where a translation “Praesepe” fits the context (and the astronomy). When I chose Praesepe as a more precise meaning of alla in this line, I did so because of the observations reported: within 2 days, Mars could not move through all of Cancer, so alla here may have meant only part of it, and Praesepe is possible, as already stated by N/W. On the other hand, a translation “the 5th, a tempest blew” is impossible because ud is never used for tempest in the diaries. e3 (ud.du), “to go out”, is natural after “to enter”.

        The position of Mars in Cancer is impossible in 588 BC, but the position is not wrong, contrary to F., for 568 BC.

        10: the ud sign does NOT have an extra oblique wedge to resemble pi as claimed by F.; this extra wedge is to be read ina. The remaining comments of F. about this sign are wrong. šu2 can mean “to set”, but ina šu2 can only mean “in the west”. It can also mean “during setting”, but that does not give a meaningful sentence.

        On the maš sign Furuli says, “The form of the sign is strange, and nothing is seen of a following tab sign” (p. 305). But maš is NOT strange, and the beginning of the following tab sign is clearly visible on the photo. The interpretation possibilities mentioned by F. do not exist. I restored “rose” which is not preserved on the tablet because a Mercury phenomenon is expected, and a first visibility in the west occurred on Ayyaru 12.

        11: in astronomical texts, lugal can NOT refer to Mars or α Centauri. As for the computations, it is unfortunate that F. chose the horizon system which varies throughout the night. In the ecliptic system, Venus is clearly above Regulus on the date in 568 BC, but somewhat less than one cubit.

        12: on Simanu 1 as given by F., Mercury and Mars were about 8° in longitude from Regulus, which corresponds well to 4 cubits. By choosing the horizon coordinates, F. gets confusing results.

        13: as I stated in the Diaries edition, there are problems with understanding šer-tam DIB; but there are no problems in identifying the signs, contrary to the confusing comments by F. dib does NOT lack its vertical wedge, it is just below the uppermost horizontal.

        13: si4: it may not be possible for F. to know which sign is written, but it IS si4 and means Antares. Why is the sign dele said to be not connected with bad? If one connects it to the sign before, no meaning appears. To list possible meanings of bad which are not applicable here, only produces confusion.

        tar is not strange, but a frequent Neo-Babylonian form of the sign. Of course good grammar would require ana tari, but case endings are not well observed in Neo-Babylonian.

        kun may be zibbatu, but giš.kun is rapaštu. So giš.kun here cannot refer to Pisces, and rapaštu is a well-known part of the lion constellation. ur is not difficult to interpret, but difficult to explain away. The sign is there, and it confirms that we are dealing with a star in the Lion.

        3’: Of the mul sign, F. says: “The sign is strange and difficult to identify. … The sign mul and the following four signs would hardly have been read as N/W and S/H do if Capricorni were not already calculated to be the star mentioned” (p. 309). But mulx is NOT a strange sign; it is AB2. It occurs several times on this tablet (and also on others) as a sign for “star”. The wedges of murub4 are not indistinct but clear; there is a small damage to the uppermost part of it but no wedge is lost. ša2 is not erased but partly broken. Of si, the upper horizontal is broken, not erased; the sign can be identified. maš2 looks as expected (and frequently found in diaries), see the Neo-Babylonian form in Labat No. 76. I do not understand why Weidner, Sachs and I are considered not competent enough to find the correct reading without computation.

        5’: ki is certain. ir is exactly as it should be in Neo-Babylonian; F.’s statement that ir has three vertical wedges is correct only for Neo-Assyrian, so his comments are irrelevant.

        The sign bil is not erased, but the end is broken. bil has two horizontal wedges in the beginning, and so does the sign here; F.’s statement that it has only one horizontal is wrong. pa can NOT be read giš, and the following sign is not da, so considering Hyades is groundless. F.’s translations are to be discarded.

        6’: suhur is somewhat abbreviated in the diaries, but the form seen here is frequent. maš2 looks exactly how the sign should look in Neo-Babylonian (see Labat), it is not unclear. While “the full name of Capricorn” is “suhur maš2”, maš2 is the usual abbreviation in the diaries and other astronomical texts.

        As for the position of Venus, “below” is probably a mistake for “above” because Venus almost never has a sufficiently negative latitude in Capricorn to be below γ or δ Cap. As usual, F. suspects calculation.

        19’: dele-bad was discussed above for

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    .

        ana is NOT erased but complete and clear. dur is NOT erased but slightly damaged. It is quite possible to see it.

        sim is not strange, but has the required form for Neo-Babylonian; no wedges are missing. The same is true for mah; it looks exactly as the example in Labat.

        Of the sign for ku4, F. says, “The sign has some resemblance with ku4, but there are several differences as well” (p. 312). ku4 has so much resemblance with ku4 that it can only be ku4.

        An observation of this kind can help to find where the “band” connecting one fish to the other lies, but it cannot be proven correct.

        20’: for the supposedly invisible gu4 see my remarks on

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    above.

        There is a horizontal scratch below the dele of dele-bad. One cannot form igi out of this and the preceding u as does F. dele cannot be interpreted as idim; bad might be, but it makes no sense here. The gods mentioned by F. would have to be identified by the divine determinative. Only the reading dele-bad for Venus is possible. Of the name Anunitu, the signs a and nu are preserved (as can also be picked out on F’s photo on p. 272). The “conjecture” to restore Anunitu is based on the fact that a “band” is mentioned before. So the restoration is not ‘nothing but conjecture’ (p. 312), but is based on reasonable grounds.

     

    Table C.4 (p. 315-316):

    Alternate interpretations of the cuneiform signs

        Most of the errors in this table have already been dealt with above.

        Nisanu 1: only one interpretation about Pisces is possible.

        Nisanu 11 or 12: only “acronychal rising” is possible.

        Ayyaru 1 Saturn: see above on

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    ; all translations by F. are wrong.

        Ayyaru 1 Mercury: only “was not visible” is correct.

        Ayyaru 3: the sign is Cancer; all other translations are wrong.

        Ayyaru 10: only “Mercury in the west” is possible.

        Ayyaru 18: see above on

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    . lal2 means “to weigh”, not “to bind up”.

        Simanu 1-5: most of F.’s translations are impossible.

        Tebetu 19: β Capricorni is certain.

        Šabatu 1: F.’s translations are wrong; the only name that can be restored is Sagittarius.

        Šabatu 4: Capricorn is certain.

        Addaru c. 20 and 26: Venus and Mercury are certain.

     

        The conclusion is that F.’s “alternatives” are based on misunderstandings.

     

    Section C6 (p. 316-333) discusses

    “the lunar observations”

    The treatment of the lunar data by F. has been examined by C. O. Jonsson at the internet address

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    . Jonsson proves that the data fit 568/7 BC, and not 588/7 BC as claimed by F.

        I do not need to add anything to Jonsson’s calculations with which I agree completely. Only a few remarks on translation:

        Nisanu 1: It may seem unnecessary to remark on this, but the ingressive meaning “became visible” is deduced from the most likely reading innamir of the verb, and from the fact that the moon was not visible on the days before, so it “became visible” again.

        Ayyaru 1: “the moon in the sun standing” is pseudo-literal because it is not correct English – or may be understood as “the moon standing inside the sun”. The Akkadian infinitive construction ina šamši uzuzzi can be translated as “during the standing of the sun”; I tried to render this intelligible by using “while the sun stood there”. See W. von Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik, § 150 g.

        Simanu 5: I cannot find qararu “thick” in the modern Akkadian dictionaries. Anyway, in the phrase “thick end”, the adjective would have to follow the substantive in Akkadian. There is also a ša2 between kur4 and til. So the correct translation remains “the bright star at the end of the Lion’s foot”.

        Addaru 1: F. argues that, “The expression ‘at that time’ in connection with Jupiter is interesting, because it suggests that the planet positions are taken from a different source than the lunar positions” (p. 329). There is no reason to assume that the planet positions are taken from a different source. inūšu (“at that time”) begins a new sentence, so the position of Jupiter is independent of the moon.

     

    It may be interesting to mention an entirely different approach to evaluate the lunar data.

        In Under One Sky: Astronomy and Mathematics in the Ancient Near East (J. M. Steele and A. Imhausen [eds.], Münster 2002), pp. 423-428, F. R. Stephenson and D. M. Willis have evaluated the lunar data in VAT 4956 and come to the conclusion that the date 568/7 BC can be “confidently affirmed”.

        Stephenson and Willis used the “Lunar Three” to check the date. These are the following time intervals: sunset to moonset (SS-MS) on the first evening of the month; sunrise to moonset (SR-MS) on the first morning on which the almost full moon set after sunrise; and moonrise to sunrise (MR-SR) on the last morning on which the moon was visible before conjunction. I repeat the table from p. 424 of their article:

     

    Year 568/7 BC, beginning April 22/23

    Month

    Day

    Julian Date

    Interval

    Text

    Computed

    Difference

    I

    14

    568 May 5

    SR-MS

    4

    3.5

    0.5

    II

    26

    568 Jun 17

    MR-SR

    23

    23.2

    0.2

    III

    1

    568 Jun 20

    SS-MS

    20

    22.7

    2.7

    XI

    1

    567 Feb 12

    SS-MS

    14.5

    17.0

    2.5

    XII

    1

    567 Mar 14

    SS-MS

    25

    25.7

    0.7

    XII

    12

    567 Mar 26

    SR-MS

    1.5

    0.7

    0.8

     

        As Stephenson and Willis say, each interval increases by about 12° per day, so the correct day can usually be identified by comparing text with computation. I have repeated their computations for 568/7 BC, and I agree with their results. In the following, I do the same computations for the year 588/7 BC, both for the dates given by Parker & Dubberstein, and for those claimed by F., which are shifted by about one month.

     

    Year 588/7 BC, beginning April 3/4

    Month

    Day

    Julian Date

    Interval

    Text

    Computed

    Difference

    I

    14

    588 Apr 17/18!

    SR-MS

    4

    6

    2

    II

    26

    588 May 28/29

    MR-SR

    23

    17.3

    5.7

    III

    1

    588 Jun 1/2

    SS-MS

    20

    13.8

    6.2

    III

    15

    588 Jun 15/16

    SR-MS

    7.5

    5.8

    1.7

    XI

    1

    587 Jan 24/25

    SS-MS

    14.5

    16.5

    2

    XII

    1

    587 Feb 23/24

    SS-MS

    25

    27.8

    2.8

    XII

    12

    587 Mar 7/8!

    SR-MS

    1.5

    1.8

    0.3

     

     

    Year 588/7 BC, beginning May 2/3

    Month

    Day

    Julian Date

    Interval

    Text

    Computed

    Difference

    I

    14

    588 May 16/17!

    SR-MS

    4

    1

    3

    II

    26

    588 Jun 27/28!

    MR-SR

    23

    18.3

    4.7

    III

    1

    588 Jul 1/2!

    SS-MS

    20

    17.8

    2.2

    III

    15

    588 Jul 15/16!

    SR-MS

    7.5

    15.3

    7.8

    XI

    1

    587 Feb 22/23

    SS-MS

    14.5

    9.8

    4.7

    XII

    1

    587 Mar 24/25

    SS-MS

    25

    21.5

    3.5

    XII

    12

    587 Apr 6/7!

    SR-MS

    1.5

    4.8

    3.3

     

    The dates with an exclamation mark disagree with the calendar, in the sense that the measurements of the intervals could not have been taken on the date given on the tablet if the tablet were referring to year 588/7. The differences between text and computation are in both cases much larger than in 568/7 BC. Using the words of Stephenson and Willis, 588/7 BC can be confidently excluded.

     

     

    “Appendix D. The Use of Names in Akkadian” (p. 334-336)

    Appendix D, “The Use of Names in Akkadian”, only produces uncertainties by providing examples of misreadings of such names even by competent scholars, or by differing opinions on damaged passages. The forms of the name of the Babylonian king Nabû-kudurru-uur in the Bible cannot be used to make any statements about the Akkadian name because the scribes of the Bible need not have understood the name and could easily have misspelled it. So this is no justification for attributing two names to the king.

        I have commented above on the interpretation of names for which this appendix is supposed to prepare the way.

     

    “Appendix E.  A Saturn Tablet Supposedly from the Reign of Kandalanu” (p. 337-351)

    Appendix E concerns a tablet published by

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    concerning Saturn. F. begins by listing only the completely preserved signs, giving translations of these. Broken passages are only partly indicated, so this table gives an unclear impression of what is on the tablet. There are also errors in the translations.

        The following has to be said to F.’s comments:

        Line 1: the sign in question looks more like nu than like pap, because the head of the crossing oblique wedge is below the horizontal; F.’s statement of the contrary is falsified by the copy. This applies to all three occurrences of this sign; it is ALWAYS nu. If F. can bring evidence from somewhere else (photo?), this would have to be clearly stated. Therefore, assuming the possibility that Nabopolassar was mentioned in line 1 is without basis.

        Line 4: Walker does NOT take nu to mean “not seen” but restores igi after nu.

        Line 6: How VAT 4956 writes mul is of no importance for the present tablet. There is more than one way to write the star determinative.

        Line 7: F.’s translation “in the end of month IV cloud not” is wrong because he left out part of the line; the correct translation is: “in the end of month IV, last appearance; clouds, not observed”.

        Line 8: the scribe would show his incompetence by using NIM to indicate “morning” since first appearances of Saturn are always in the morning. The signs mean “it was high” (šaqâ = NIM-a), which is frequent in diaries.

        Line 9: given the calendar dates, it is superfluous to entertain meanings like “cloud over” and “be dark”; the dates clearly refer to last appearances, as F. accepts anyway.

        Line 15: “Year 8 month VI, day 5 behind AB.SIN going down”; F. does not translate that month VI was intercalary; ŠU2 is not “going down”.

        Line 16: if Saturn was between Virgo and Libra, the restoration ina [DAL]-BAN is a good idea by Walker.

        Line 18’: writings that combine syllables and logograms do occur occasionally. ša3 is libbu, correctly translated by Walker as “within”.

        Line 20’: ba-il means “it was bright”; the word cannot refer to “ruler” in Akkadian.

        Line 23’: the translation of muššuh may be open to discussion, but “Hydra” is out of the question because ŠU2 occurs already before it; the indication of where the planet was at last appearance would have preceded ŠU2. ‘Hydra’ is impossible also because, if Saturn was near Antares (Scorpius) in Year 11, and was gradually moving into the region of Ophiuchus/Sagittarius about a year later in Year 12, how could it suddenly jump 30+ degrees in the opposite direction back to Hydra in the intervening months?

        On p. 340 F. makes the erroneous statement that words referring to body parts of constellations were not possible in the 7th century because they would require knowledge of the different signs of the zodiac. I don’t understand how he arrives at this opinion; maybe a misunderstanding of the difference between zodiacal constellations and zodiacal signs is the reason.

        On p. 341 F. gives coordinates for Saturn and ε Leonis in several years which are 59 years apart. He then says that in 646 “Saturn was not in the head of the Lion but 7° below”. This is unavoidable because Saturn’s latitude can never be more than 2.9°, and ε Leonis has a latitude of 9.5°. In addition, the use of the horizon coordinate system obscures the situation because its coordinates change in the course of the night. Walker used ecliptic coordinates; the longitude of Saturn is a much better indicator of how close the planet was to the star. F. also ignores that first and last appearances do not have to happen close to a star but can happen a few degrees away from it. The observer will tend to use well-known stars as reference. Therefore, unless distances between Saturn and a star are given, it is not meaningful to look for a “fit”.

        Year 2: Saturn is half a degree behind ε Leonis, so referring to the “head of the Lion” is correct.

        Year 4: “in the middle of the Lion” is correct because the Lion’s head (ε) is at 104° and its rear foot (β Vir) at 140° longitude.

        Year 6: that Saturn was much lower than β Virginis was not important; but Saturn was also much behind it.  

        Year 7: Saturn is a little bit (0.2°) behind α Virginis.

        Year 8, last appearance: Saturn was 8° behind α Virginis, therefore “behind the Furrow” as the tablet states. There is no other bright star to refer to. The distance in latitude is only 4°.

        Year 9: F.’s doubt of the reading is not necessary.

        Year 10: while the later diaries speak of the “head of the Scorpion” and this tablet has “forehead of the Scorpion”, it is nevertheless likely that β Scorpii is meant. Its longitude is 207.1°, so Saturn is in front of it; and its latitude is 1.34°, not much different from 2.2° which is given in Walker’s text for Saturn.  

        Year 12: since it is not known which star of Sagittarius (and Ophiuchus) was meant by “beginning/head” and “middle” of Pabilsag, one cannot state that “the position of Saturn is wrong”. Walker mentioned two stars (β Ophiuchi [p. 72] and θ Ophiuchi [p. 74]) which would have been in the appropriate position, but we do not know their Akkadian names. Assumptions about backward calculation are not required by the text.

        Year 13: see year 12.

        Contrary to F.’s claim on p. 345, of thirteen positions one is wrong (year 7), one is strange (year 6), two cannot be verified (year 12 and 13), and seven fit well. There is no reason to assume backward calculation on the basis of the two non-fitting data.

     

        Table E.2 (p. 346-347) gives the differences between last and first appearances in the text and according to calculation. “In the text” means that the year number is assumed to be regnal years of Kandalanu (by Walker) or regnal years of Nabopolassar (by F.). There are, as is to be expected, differences between text and calculation, and F. admits (p. 349) that with his proposal there are higher differences. But he not only considers this not decisive, he simply asserts that both(!) proposals “corroborate retrocalculation”. And even the sequence of intercalary months, briefly discussed on p. 350, is assumed to have been a product of the scribe who did the backward calculations.

     

    Appendix F:  Which Positions Could Be Calculated?” (p. 352-362)

    First F. quotes several modern scholars who state their belief that positions could be predicted. This means that future positions could be calculated in advance. F. however takes these statements to justify his belief that positions were calculated backwards. On p. 353, last paragraph, he also introduces the suspicion that a scribe by means of backward calculation wanted to give his readers a misleading impression that the other positions were observed. The statement that weather conditions were predicted in the

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    is wrong; there are no details of weather in them. The only weather that is quoted is “clouds” within the context of past observations to explain the lack of some data.

        On p. 355, F. quotes

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    as a source for the conclusion “that there is no evidence from the letters and reports with astrological contents that a detailed knowledge of the cycles of the moon and planets existed at that time”. But this is exactly why the texts from this time (even if preserved in copies) will contain observations, and only very rarely predictions.

        In the following pages, passages from the astrological correspondence of the Assyrian kings of the 7th century are used to find whether the constellations along the ecliptic were seen as animals. There are several misquotes here, and F. did not realize that the word for “star” is used for whole constellations as well. Thus his conclusion that the constellations of the 7th century had a different reference than the zodiacal signs of the second half of the 1st millennium is without foundation. As he correctly quotes, the zodiac of 12 signs of equal length was introduced in the 5th century; before that, a number of constellations along the ecliptic were used whose sizes were different from each other and cannot easily be determined.

        On p. 359, F. claims that “no scholar would deny that backward calculations did occur”. But the scholars he quotes speak only of “predicting”, not backward calculation. F. adduces the Goal Year texts as examples, quoting D. Brown. But Brown again only speaks of “predicting”. The Goal Year texts collect, from earlier diaries, those data for each planet which are one whole period in the past of the Goal year. So these texts make predictions for the future by means of past observations. There is no need to make calculations of the past; the scribes had the records of past observations, and they used them to predict future phenomena. To try to calculate positions in the past must have seemed superfluous to the authors of the Goal Year texts.

        Therefore, the “evidence” for backward calculation is based only on modern suspicion.

     

        The author states in his preface: “No claim is made that the Oslo chronology is the only true and reliable chronology”. Herewith the claim is made that the Oslo chronology is NOT a true and reliable chronology.

     

    An Emotional Section:

     

    At the end, I feel I have to add an emotional section. On p. 290f., we read:

     

        “A consideration of the data above together with the unusual publication history of the tablet leads to the following hypothesis: VAT 4956 is an authentic cuneiform tablet that was copied from older tablets in one of the last centuries B.C.E. It came to the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin in 1906 as one single entity. Someone discovered that the tablet was extremely important because it was an astronomical tablet with the hitherto oldest astronomical observations. These observations seemed to fit year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar II according to the chronology of Ptolemy, but a clear connection with Nebuchadnezzar II was lacking. In order to make this connection perfectly clear, the one working with the tablet used a modern grinding machine on the edge of the tablet, thus incising the signs for ‘year 37’ and ‘year 38.’ The first line with the name of the king was also manipulated. Because of the vibration, the tablet broke into three pieces, which were then glued together. It was discovered that the fit of the signs on both sides of the break on the reverse side was not perfect, and a grinding machine was used to try to remedy this.”

     

    And on p. 333:

     

        “The following principal conclusions can be drawn on the basis of the discussion of VAT 4956: The Diary may be a genuine tablet made in Seleucid times, but in modern times someone has tampered with some of the cuneiform signs, or, the tablet was made in modern times; the obverse side was made by the help of a mold, and the signs on the reverse side and the edges were written by someone. Because of the excellent fit of all 13 lunar positions in 588/87, there are good reasons to believe that the lunar positions represent observations from that year, and that the original lunar tablet that was copied in Seleucid times was made in 588/87. Because so many of the planetary positions are approximately correct, but not completely correct, there are good reasons to believe that they represent backward calculations by an astrologer who believed that 568/67 was year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar II. Thus, the lunar positions seem to be original observations from 588/87, and the planetary positions seem to be backward calculations for the positions of the planets in 568/67.”

     

    This conclusion accuses an unnamed person of criminal acts: this person at least “has tampered with some of the cuneiform signs”, but may even have faked half of the tablet. Since the tablet reached the Vorderasiatische Museum in 1906 and was published in 1915 in the condition reflected by the photo in the Museum’s archives, the accusation concerns any people working there at this time, including e. g. Ernst Weidner. In defence of him and all others possibly involved, I state that the accusation is utterly groundless, and I express my disgust of an author whose “open-mindedness” leads him to such accusations.

     

    Hermann Hunger

    Vienna

     

     

     

     

     

    References:

     

    ADRT I (S/H) – Sachs, A. J. and H. Hunger, Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia, Vol. I: Diaries from 652 B.C. to 262 B.C. (Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1988).

     

    ADRT II (S/H) – Sachs/Hunger, ibid., Vol. II: Diaries from 261 B.C. to 165 B.C. (Wien 1989).

     

    ADRT III (S/H) – Sachs/Hunger, ibid., Vol. III: Diaries from 164 B.C. to 61 B.C. (Wien 1996).

     

    ADRT V (S/H) – Sachs/Hunger, ibid., Vol. V: Lunar and Planetary Texts (Wien 2001).

     

    ADRT VI – Hunger, ibid., Vol. VI: Goal Year Texts (Wien 2006).

     

    AfO, 1953 – Archiv für Orientforschung, Band XVI, Zweiter Teil (1953).

     

    AoF 35 – Altorientalische Forschungen, Vol. 35 (2008).

     

    Brinkman, J. A., A Political History of Post-Kassite Babylonia, 1158-722 B.C. (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1968).

     

    Brown, D., Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology (Groningen: Styx Publications, 2000).

     

    Diaries – see ADRT I, II, and III.

     

    Grayson, A. K., Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (Locust Valley, N.Y.: J. J. Augustin, 1975; reprinted by Eisenbrauns, 2000).

     

    Huber, Peter J., and Salvo De Meis, Babylonian Eclipse Observations from 750 BC to 1 BC (Milano: Mimesis, 2004). 

     

    Jonsson, C. O., The Gentile Times Reconsidered, 4th ed. (Atlanta: Commentary Press, 2004).

     

    Jursa 1997 – Jursa, Michael, “Neu- und spätbabylonische Texte aus den Sammlungen der Birmingham Museums und Art Gallery,” Iraq, Vol. LIX (1997), p. 97-174. Tablet No. 47.

     

    Kudlek, M., and E. H. Mickler, Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East from 3000 B.C. to 0 with Maps (Kevelaer: Verlag Butzon & Bercker, 1971).

     

    Labat – Labat, René, and Florence Malbran-Labat, Manuel d’épigraphie akkadienne, 6th ed. (Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1988).

     

    LBAT – Sachs, A. J., Late Babylonian Astronomical and Related Texts (Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, 1955).

     

    mulAPIN – A cuneiform document comprising two tablets summarizing the astronomical knowledge before the seventh century B.C. Some forty copies have been found, the oldest dated copy of which is from 687 B.C. The original was probably composed about the beginning of the first millennium B.C. Translated and discussed by H. Hunger and D. Pingree, MUL.APIN: An Astronomical Compendium in Cuneiform (Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 24; Verlag Ferdinand Berger and Söhne, Horn, Austria, 1989).

     

    N/W – Neugebauer, P. V., and E. F. Weidner, “Ein astronomischer Beobachtungstext aus dem 37. Jahre Nebukadnezars II. (-567/66),” Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königl. Sächsischen Gesellschaft  der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig: Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Band 67:2, 1915, pp. 29-89.

     

    Parker, R. A., and W. H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. – A.D. 75 (Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, 1956; reprinted by Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 2007).

     

    Parpola, Simo, Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, Part II: Commentary and Appendices (Kevelaer – Neukirchen-Vluyn: Butzon & Bercker – Neukirchener Verlag, 1983; reprinted by Eisenbrauns 2007). (A number of Simo Parpola’s volumes are available on the web:

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    .)

     

    Steele, J. M. and A. Imhausen (eds.), Under One Sky. Astronomy and Mathematics in the Ancient Near East (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2002).

     

    Stephenson, F. R., and D. M. Willis, “The Earliest Datable Observation of the Aurora Borealis,” in J. M. Steele and A. Imhausen (eds.), Under One Sky. Astronomy and Mathematics in the Ancient Near East (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2002), pp. 421-428.

     

    Walker, C. B. F., “Babylonian observations of Saturn during the reign of Kandalanu,” in N. M. Swerdlow (ed.), Ancient Astronomy and Celestial Divinations (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: The MIT Press, 2000), pp. 61-76. Christopher Walker’s discussion of the Saturn tablet is also available on the web:

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    .

     

  9. The following is the excerpted review of Furuli's book by Hunger in Archiv für Orientforschung (AfO). The remainder of this post contains the review:

    ---------------

    Review Reviewed Work(s): Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume II: Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian Chronology by Rolf J. Furuli

    Review by: Hermann Hunger Source: Archiv für Orientforschung , 2011, Bd. 52 (2011), pp. 384-385 Published by: Archiv für Orientforschung (AfO)/Institut für Orientalistik

    Rolf J. Furuli, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume II: Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian Chronology. 376 pp., with numerous photos and tables. Oslo, Awatu Publishers, 22008. $ 89,00.

    The other editors of AfO agree with me that the incredible collection of errors, half-truths and suspicions contained in this book must not remain uncommented. However, since it does not add to knowledge but just creates confusion, we do not want to waste our readers' patience nor the space of our journal to print a detailed review here. Such a review is available on the internet at:

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    and I am ready to send it electronically to anyone who requests it.

    There is only one item from my review which I want to print here because, in my opinion, it may concern the founder of this journal.

    On p. 290f., we read: "VAT 4956 ... came to the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin in 1906 as one single entity. Someone discovered that the tablet was extremely important because it was an astronomical tablet with the hitherto oldest astronomical observations. These observations seemed to fit year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar II according to the chronology of Ptolemy, but a clear connection with Nebuchadnezzar II was lacking. In order to make this connection perfectly clear, the one working with the tablet used a modern grinding machine on the edge of the tablet, thus incising the signs for 'year 37' and 'year 38.' The first line with the name of the king was also manipulated. Because of the vibration, the tablet broke into three pieces, which were then glued together. It was discovered that the fit of the signs on both sides of the break on the reverse side was not perfect, and a grinding machine was used to try to remedy this."

    And on p. 333: "VAT 4956 ... may be a genuine tablet made in Seleucid times, but in modern times someone has tampered with some of the cuneiform signs, or, the tablet was made in modern time; the obverse side was made by the help of a mold, and the signs on the reverse side and the edges were written by someone."

    This accuses an unnamed person of criminal acts: this person at least "has tampered with some of the cuneiform signs," but may even have faked half tablet. Since the tablet reached the Vorderasiatische Museum in 1906 and was published in 1915 in the condition reflected by the photo in the Museum's archives, the accusation concerns any people working there at this time, including e.g. Ernst Weidner. In defence of him and all others possibly involved, I state that the accusation is utterly groundless, and I express my disgust of an author whose "openmindedness" leads him to such accusations.

    Wien.                                       Hermann Hunger

  10. I don't think I should skip any of this next section of PM's "Eclipse" book either because it's about the VAT 4956, an excellent piece of archaeological evidence which many Witnesses have tried to make "infamous."

    1. Clay tablet VAT 4956 The first line of this clay tablet says of its date: “In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.”2 Scholars have applied the information in this clay tablet to 568 BC.3 It has been perhaps the prisoner’s justification for the present ancient chronology. However, it has major shortcomings. It is a pleasure now to present new researched information on this topic.

    I think that by the term "prisoner's justification" PM just means that most scholars are "stuck" with the current N-B chronology because this astronomical tablet leaves them no other choice but to place Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year as the year beginning on Nisanu 1 568 BCE.

    There are actually multiple independent lines of evidence that scholars may use to conclude that NEB37 is 568 BCE. You could throw this tablet out and you would still arrive at the same conclusion. It is convenient for those who wish to overturn a well-established chronology to make sure their audience believes in the "all-importance" of this one object. Then, they can focus attention on just one object, hoping to cast doubt upon it, and hoping the audience/reader believes that sufficient doubt has therefore been cast upon the entire N-B chronology. But, as I said, you could throw it out and there would still be plenty of evidence that NEB37 is 568 (and therefore NEB19 must be 587).

    The so-called shortcomings are not major, but if they were then it would be hypocritical of the WTS not to mention that VAT 4956 is much better in this regard than Strm Kambys 400 (used for decades by the WTS as prime evidence of Cyrus in 539). And yet both of these artifacts produce the correct archaeological dates for the N-B period, despite the very minor shortcomings of VAT 4956 and the great shortcomings of Strm Kambys 400.

    But we digress, here's how PM starts out the section, and we'll get back to this:

    Nisannu The opening rows of the clay tablet state that the moon was on the 9th day of the 1st month, or Nisannu, about an elbow away from the constellation Beta Virginis, or Virgo, “in front of it”. From this, the may have been in front of the imaginary “face” of the Virgo constellation. It could also be “in front of it” a little diagonally, even below the “hand”. According to scholars, in 568 BC. this distance was on April 29, which was the 8th day of the month of Nisannu. Scholars have argued that the Babylonian scribe made a mistake at this point.

    [picture of] Moon and Virgo constellation April 29, 568 BC. (8th Nisannu); Babylon, Iraq

    If there is an error, what is the cause of that error? Or could it be that no mistake has been made in that matter? 

    Before we start on the details, it must be pointed out right from the start that Witnesses who know only a tiny bit about this tablet believe that it has major shortcomings, and that whatever it says should therefore be dismissed. But Witnesses who have studied it more closely know better, and realize that the only way to discredit it is to do everything in their power to create uncertainty and doubt about it. Furuli understood it so well that he was forced to flail wildly to try to create uncertainty and doubt, and without any basis, he even resorted to accusing others of crimes.

    For those who don't know it, here is Furuli's theory . . .

    Better yet, before we speak of Furuli's theory, we should introduce two of the foremost living specialists who have studied astronomical diaries such as VAT4956. If any have watched these recent topics closely, they will know that two people have had their names come up a few times already.

    One is a Professor of Egyptology and Assyriology [includes Neo-Babylon & Persia & and Ancient Science/Astronomy] at Brown University named John Steele.

    The link

      Hello guest!
      gives a list of about 100 publications he has worked on, which include thousands of pages, many of which are available in full text at the same link. Others are on academia.edu and JSTOR, university libraries, etc. One of his publications, very relevant to this discussion was written with Hermann Hunger: 

    Hermann Hunger and John Steele. The Babylonian Astronomical Compendium MUL.APIN. Routledge, 2019.

    Hermann Hunger is probably the primary Neo-Babylonian specialist in the world today. Here's the Wikipedia version:

    Hermann Hunger, son of the Byzantinist Herbert Hunger, studied oriental studies at the

      Hello guest!
    after graduating in 1960. In 1963/64 he studied Assyriology and Arabic at the
      Hello guest!
    and from 1964 to 1966 at the
      Hello guest!
    , where he received his doctorate in Assyriology and Semitic philology in 1966 under Wolfram von Soden (Babylonian and Assyrian colophones). From 1967 to 1970 he was an epigraphist member at the
      Hello guest!
    in Baghdad. From 1970 to 1973 he was Research Associate at the
      Hello guest!
    and then until 1976 assistant at the
      Hello guest!
    at the University of Vienna, where he completed his habilitation. From 1976 to 1978 he was
      Hello guest!
    at the
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    and from 1978 he was Associate Professor of Assyriology at the University of Vienna, where he retired in 2007.

    He is considered one of the leading authorities on Babylonian astronomy history, where he worked early with

      Hello guest!
    and
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    , and later with
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    .
    He was collaborator in the
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    .

    Hunger is a member of the

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    and the
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    , of which he is chairman of the Commission for the History of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Medicine and the Mycenaean Commission. In 2010 he became an honorary member of the American Oriental Society. Hunger is co-editor of the
      Hello guest!
    .

    In fact the Witness(es) behind the site vat4956.com quote from Hunger as the translation authority on most of their pages.
     
    The Watchtower quotes him as a leading authority, too, along with the people he has collaborated with:

    *** w11 11/1 p. 28 When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two ***
    11. Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts From Babylonia, Volume V, edited by Hermann Hunger, published 2001, pages 2-3.
    12. Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 2, No. 4, 1948, “A Classification of the Babylonian Astronomical Tablets of the Seleucid Period,” by A. Sachs, pages 282-283.
    13. Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts From Babylonia, Volume V, page 391. [edited by Hermann Hunger]
    14. Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology, by David Brown, published 2000, pages 164, 201-202.
    15. Bibliotheca Orientalis, L N° 1/2, Januari-Maart, 1993, “The Astronomical Diaries as a Source for Achaemenid and Seleucid History,” by R. J. van der Spek, pages 94, 102.
    16. Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts From Babylonia, Volume I, by Abraham J. Sachs, completed and edited by Hermann Hunger, published 1988, page 47.

    Often when a well-known scholar writes a book, it is customary to have it reviewed by peers before publication. Furuli was not a well-known scholar in Assyriology, but is a Semitic Languages scholar nonetheless. So imagine the honor for Furuli to have his book on Neo-Babylonian chronology reviewed by Hermann Hunger, the world's foremost scholar in the field.

    In the next post I'll include portions of Hermann Hunger's review of Furuli's book on Neo-Babylonian chronology, of which 25% of it is about VAT 4956.
  11. Let's cover the entire Preface of the eclipses book. Lookout to Ancient Eclipses.  

    To review this book for its relevance to the Neo-Babylonian period (N-B), I'm  probably going to use some shorthand now and then for repeated names, words and phrases.

    • PM for Pekka Mansikka, the author.
    • NEB for Nebuchadnezzar and NEB ACC for Nebuchadnezzar's accession year (sometimes NEB 0), and NEB 1 through NEB 43, for his official years of reign.
    • The business/contract tablets will be shorted to "biz docs," and if referring to the dates on them I will use "biz dates."
    • Neo-Babylon or Neo-Babylonian will be N-B. Not to be confused with NEB (above).

    --------------

    Mansikka's "New Thesis" is the ancient chronology he proposes based, he says, on a study of eclipses. After the TOC, the book starts on p.11. He claims that this book follows the evidence from "New Chronology Using Solar Eclipses, II.

    Preface This new publication largely follows the evidence from the book ‘New Chronology Usin[g] Solar Eclipses, Volume II’. Hereinafter, this book is referred to as the “New Thesis”. However, here we look at the eclipses from a somewhat different perspective.

    [except where stated the following excerpts are contiguous. I will do a lot of skipping of material, but unless explicitly stated, the following material is contiguous, without skipping.]

    He agrees that eclipse data is important, and accurate from a scientific perspective. But he readies us with:

    A scientific perspective on ancient eclipses The space administration NASA states that the calculated location of ancient solar eclipses could have only an error of up to about 10 kilometers.1 In this dissertation, this strict criterion applies to ancient eclipses.In addition, the aim here is to apply assyriologists' assessments that the recorded eclipses were likely to be good covered. On the basis of these criteria, very surprising and even strange findings from ancient history can be found.

    In the book p.12

    Babylonian business documents The New Thesis paid more attention to the dates of business documents written by the ancient Babylonians. This dissertation repeats the result revealed by these business papers, which extends the chronology by several years. A new feature of this dissertation is the use of the Stellarium program. It also provides new, refined information about the history of Babylonia

    Perhaps PM pays more attention to the biz dates, but I think we will show that it was not enough attention. And he went to the trouble to check a few of the eclipses and planetary positions in Stellarium. This is a very good thing.

    Based on the dates of these Babylonian business documents, it is not possible to apply the solar eclipse of in 763 BC to the history of Assyria.

    This is an odd way to end a section on Babylonian biz docs. I don't care if the conclusion is correct or not, but it's an incorrect premise for the conclusion. The biz dates are relative, and a set of N-B relative dates cannot push an "absolute" date of a solar eclipse backwards or forward.

    Only because it is part if this same Introductory overview will I include this particular analogy:

    Strange distractions in eclipses Let us first take theories of black holes here. Their existence has not been observed with telescopes as they do not emit light. Their existence can only be detected on the basis of the impact they have on their environment. For example, the bending of light or the rotation of a star around a point where there seems to be nothing gives reason to assume the existence of a black hole. Similar disturbances are found when one carefully looks at eclipses recorded in ancient times and insists that they did indeed occur within the strict scientific criteria described above. The occurrence of these severe disturbances may be the main reason why researchers generally adhere to the year 763 BC. application to the solar eclipse in Assyria. This dissertation examines the magnitude of these disturbances and finally considers what could be the disturbing “black hole” in ancient history and whether the disturbances caused by it could be corrected.

    I won't comment about whether I think this analogy is absurd or amazing or both. But note that this is mostly about 763, and 763 BCE is far outside the topic of NEB's reign. 

    Free chronology The current old chronology applies such a “free chronology,” that is, it does not apply the eclipses observed in ancient times to support the chronology. In addition, some references to ancient eclipses contradict the scientific criterion set out above. In this respect, New Thesis applies this free chronology, as it presents a higher margin of error in a few points for NASA's calculations. This chronology of New Thesis is mainly included in the free chronology of this dissertation.

    We will check this claim for how it might affect the N-B period, for which we have more reported eclipses than the periods PM focuses on.

    Order In this dissertation, the order of the issues under consideration has been slightly “improved” so that they are approximately in chronological order. The review begins in the 5th century BC. and moving back one step at a time. We first look at the chronology of Babylonia and Assyria and then the Eclipses related to the chronology of Egypt.

    There was a footnote above about the "error" of 10 km per NASA. The location was timeanddate.com/eclipse/accuracy.html

    In terms of the location of the Moon's shadow during solar eclipses, the margin of error may sound pretty large at first. For example, the location of the Moon's shadow shown on the

      Hello guest!
    can be off by a few kilometers—up to 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) in extreme cases, when the observer is at a high altitude and the Sun is low in the sky. However, 10 kilometers is the distance the Moon's shadow covers in only about 10 seconds, so this imprecision does not amount to much for spectators on the ground. Having said that, if you are at the very edge of the path of the total eclipse, it is probably wise to move a few kilometers towards its center to make sure you will not miss out on totality.

    So this reference was not at all related to ancient eclipses, and it was only a statement about the reasons for very small apparent inaccuracies when predicting a total eclipse of the sun for a specific observer in a specific place. For the timing of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, we have only lunar eclipses to worry about and a few planetary observations. No solar eclipses. Also PM has possibly misinterpreted the issues of accuracy, as this particular one is about a potential difference when observing a solar eclipse from a high altitude when the sun is low in the sky. (For known physical reasons.) These issues are unrelated to the issues faced by ancient sky observers, and our current state of knowledge about those issues.

    So that, above, was the entire Preface, no skipping.

  12. Pekka Mansikka has included the following in a recent email:

    Did you read the book Lookout to ancient eclipses?

    Ps. Note: "NCUSE, Volume II" is my a translation error. The same book is Volume II of the Finnish Department. In the English-language department, it is Volume III. Sorry ; )

    I don't know if Mansikka picked up on the fact that these are "Editions," not "Volumes."  "Cesar Chavez" already alluded to the fact that COJ used the term correctly by calling his different updates, "editions." But Mansikka's point, above, is that "Volume [edition] II" (2020, Finnish) is the same as "Volume [edition] III." (2020, English). The initial 2019 edition is the one I purchased in English.

    The question about whether I read his book "Lookout to ancient eclipses" was asked of me because Mansikka believes this book covers the objections raised against his conclusions in the latest NCUSE ("New Chronology Using Solar Eclipses").

    I would be happy to go over the relevant sections of the Eclipses book, with the warning that I think there are many good reasons to treat it honestly for what it really is. It's the same basic premise for the original 1969 article on Chronology in the AID book and the updated version of the Chronology article in the INSIGHT book and the Appendix in the 1981 "Kingdom Come" book and Furuli's books and vat4956.com and now Mansikka's book. The premise is basically that there are some minor or potential problems with some of the ancient chronology evidence, and if one tries very they can even get reades to doubt some of the most well-established Neo-Babylonian evidence. Assuming we focus on a couple of errors and not on the overwhelming mass of evidence.

    To sum it up, the goal is get the reader to go along with the following logic: Because there MIGHT be a few random errors within the overwhelming evidence for the archaeologically-supported timeline, then we MUST accept the specific 20-year discrepancy of the WTS timeline.

    The problem is that the errors he brings up do not really effect the Neo-Babylonian timeline. We can and should expect errors hundreds of years earlier, and even from just prior to the NB timeline, and even some within the timeline itself. That's the nature of archaeological artifacts. We often have to piece together a puzzle from thousands of broken or interlocking pieces. But if those thousands of pieces create a solid picture, we can't throw out that solid picture and try to create a new and different picture from only the remaining half-a-dozen broken pieces.

    And the worst part is that some of these sources only pretend a piece is broken when it perfectly fits the thousands of other interlocking pieces. When I see that type of pseudo-scholarship, I have to think of extreme confirmation bias (evidentiary "blind spots") or even dishonesty. I don't think of PM as dishonest, because he has inherited some of his ideas from Furuli. And all of us who believe or once believed in the 606/607 date for Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year, ultimately inherited it from the mistake of one of Christendom's former Millerite Second Adventists.

    So we will take a small diversion and look at the "Eclipses" book by Pekka Mansikka . . .

  13.  

    23 hours ago, Arauna said:

    as I copied it from the JW.org website. It puts the battle of carchemish at 625 BCE ..... same date as this "new propisal"...... lol.

    LOL! Indeed.

    You don't think I tried to do the same thing for many years that Pekka Mansikka, Carl Olof Jonsson, and Rolf Furuli and others have tried to do? I'm sure we've all hoped there was a way that 607 might just still work because that would be such good evidence that we could show others about Jehovah's guidance.

    No matter what evidence he finds, Pekka Mansikka's new proposals must always  promote the same 20-year discrepancy found in the WTS publications. Where do you think he got the idea from? Did you really think that some random researcher just happened to reach a conclusion that goes against 99.99% of the archaeological evidence, and ended up with the exact same 20-year discrepancy the WTS has used since Nelson Barbour first promoted this same initial mistake?

    Mansikka got it from the INSIGHT book and, of course, from Rolf Furuli, too. Mansikka paraphrases the INSIGHT book in places, and the following is from page 32 of his "Eclipses" book:

    • References
      • 6 Rolf Furuli: ‘Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Volume I’
    23 hours ago, Arauna said:

    The bible chronology is the best: 

    The Bible chronology is the best, but Pekka Mansikka is not interested in Bible chronology. He is only interested in "proving" the chronology of the INSIGHT book.

    Also, the Bible chronology most definitely does NOT point to 625 BCE as the time for the battle of Carchemish. Christendom merely produced a man (a false prophet) named Nelson Barbour. You should read the book by B.W.Schulz called "Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet."

    That book is also produced by a Witness (Schulz). Barbour is the one who convinced Russell of the chronology, which Russell admits he had very little interest in (or understanding of).

    If you research this topic further, you will also see that Barbour evidently misunderstood the chronology of Bowen/Elliott.

    In the mid-1800's, "Reverend" Elliott, for example, mentioned 606 BCE to 1914 as a possible solution to the 7 times, but Elliott (in the fine print) also shows that he knew this to be closer to Nebuchadnezzar's FIRST year, not his 18th year when Jerusalem was destroyed. It's only this 20-year discrepancy that adds 20 years to the archaeological date for the battle of Carchemish. (605+20=625)

    Barbour and Russell had already built up their doctrine on this mistake, and it was evidently too late to admit it by the time it was pointed out to Russell (in a letter to the WT which he printed) several years after he had accepted Barbour's chronology.

  14. 54 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

    Now I know why I lost my fortune and am reduced to selling pencils to get by. 

    Back when salesman jokes were in vogue (September 1936 issue) the following was somehow considered a good one:

    • Worried pencil-selling business partner: We buy these pencils for 3 cents and sell them for 2 cents. We're losing money on every sale! How are we ever going to make a profit?
    • Reassuring pencil-selling business parter: Volume!!*

    * Alternative: "We'll make it up in volume!"

     

  15. 3 minutes ago, Arauna said:

    Listened to a long speech by Charles Schwab two days ago. 

    That wasn't Charles Schwab. It was Klaus Schwab:

    • World-renowned economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
    • Charles Robert Schwab is an American investor and financial executive. He is the founder and chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation. He pioneered discount sales of equity securities starting in 1975. His company became by far the largest discount securities dealer in the United States.
  16. Pekka Mansikka said:

    Quote

    Tiglath-Pileser III became king of Assyria in the third year of Nabonassar, king of Babylon. If a major change were to be made to the chronology of Assyria in order to find the solar eclipse of Assyria, it would directly affect the chronology of Babylonia.

    Yes, under some possible circumstances, but not necessarily. And of course, my point was not about Old Babylon and Assyria, but New-Babylon and Assyria. Which I see that you understand when you say:

    Quote

    The reigns of kings cannot be extended without justification, at random, but would have to be done if the year 626 BC had been applied. To the beginning of the New Babylonian dynasty.

    That statement is correct. And here's why I claimed what I did. You don't even have to go back to Assyria, you can even compare two kings of the same nation and era. 

    1. Let's say my only interest is when Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year landed in "BCE" time.
    2. Now, just to simplify, let's say you can show strong evidence that Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar's father, reigned from say 645 BCE to 625 BCE.
    3. Now, let's assume, through the same means, that I can show strong evidence that Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 604 to 562.
    4. I know that your dates are 20 years earlier than I thought they should be, but they are for Nabopolassar, and mine are for Nebuchadnezzar. Even if your dates are right, they don't necessarily affect my dates for Nebuchadnezzar at all. I would have no more reason to push my dates back by 20 years as you would have to push your dates forward by 20 years. We could just assume that there is a gap between 625 and 604, and we don't absolutely know which king or kings filled that gap. You have strong evidence, let's say, but it's not for Nebuchadnezzar, and is therefore irrelevant for answering the question about Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year.

    So if this is true of even Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar's father, then how much less a concern is it to look 200, 300, even 500 years further back. In the worst case, if your Nabopolassar evidence was very strong, and my evidence was weak, then I would double-check my evidence before making any strong claims about it. And if the Nebuchadnezzar evidence was equal to or stronger than your Nabopolassar evidence, then I'm justified in not worrying about your weaker evidence. In fact, they could both be true.

    Fortunately the "real" Nabopolassar evidence supports the archaeological Nebuchadnezzar dates, and the "real" Nebuchadnezzar evidence supports the Nabopolassar dates. So, I have nothing to worry about.

  17. To be fair to Pekka Mansikka I would like to deal with his objections as they come up. I will quote him from his most recent communication:

     

    In the forum I wrote:

    "We could stipulate that all Assyrian history is wrong, and it would not effect the accuracy of the Neo-Babylonian period.".

    Pekka wrote:

    ". . . but I slightly disagree ;)"

     links:

      Hello guest!

      Hello guest!

    Tiglath-Pileser III became king of Assyria in the third year of Nabonassar, king of Babylon. If a major change were to be made to the chronology of Assyria in order to find the solar eclipse of Assyria, it would directly affect the chronology of Babylonia. The reigns of kings cannot be extended without justification, at random, but would have to be done if the year 626 BC had been applied. To the beginning of the New Babylonian dynasty.

    Because he is gracious enough to follow along and only "slightly" disagree while I "strongly" disagree, I appreciate the sense of humor, and will give his work more attention than I thought I would at first.

    My first response would be that I am only turning Mansikka's logic "back on itself," from the perspective of someone who believes that the archaeology tells a more accurate story for Neo-Babylon than it does for Assyria, Egypt, and Old Babylon.. Mansikka is actually asking us to accept that when he finally resolves the Assyrian history to be "right" (corrected from his perspective), that this would most definitely effect the accuracy of the Neo-Babylonian period. 

    In effect, then Mansikka is saying that when he corrects the Assyrian period, it negates the Neo-Babylonian. I go from the other perspective and say that the Neo-Babylonian period is a later period of time, with much more archaeological evidence. We even have evidence that it was the 17th year of Nabonidus when Cyrus conquered in 539 BCE. Both Mansikka and I and most everyone else agrees with this Neo-Babylonian archaeology. So we already know that the Neo-Babylonian archaeological dates have some merit. And they are easy to work with because they are all supported by all the other dates in the series. There are no anomalies.

    The Assyrian period is not quite as well understood in terms of overlapping kings, potentially conflicting names and nicknames, usurpers, illegitimate claimants, and the kings that belong in the official Assyrian yearly calendar system, and the Assyrian kings over Babylon that belong to the official Babylonian yearly calendar system. The issues can be resolved, but it took archaeologists more time to resolve them. I would not be surprised if there are some remaining mistakes in the Assyrian calendar. But I'm even less interested in the Assyrian king's BCE dates than I am in Babylonian.

    It's only at the point when the Assyrian and Babylonian calendars sync up that we need to look at any problematic chronology issues. And even here it's much better to start fresh with the Neo-Babylonian period rather than try to impose a previous era with older counting methods on the subsequent period. Even the official dates of the Nabopolassar reign will not be determined by the last year of the Assyrian/Babylonian king before him, but by the first uniquely identified regnal year within the range of Nabopolassar. And if we get a date or two (or 20) identified within Nebuchadnezzar's reign, we could even ignore any discrepancies under Nabopolassar, and evaluate the accuracy of Nebuchadnezzar's dates on their own. The fact that they actually support each other is good, but it's not as problematic as one might think if they didn't. At any rate, they support each other, just as every known date in the Neo-Babylonian period supports every other date within the period.

  18. 4 hours ago, Srecko Sostar said:
    6 hours ago, JW Insider said:

    6 P.Mansikka: NCUSE, Volume II, 2020, pp. 22- 24

    And this is more funny. 

    True. It's OK for a scholar to depend on his own prior work, especially if that work has been reviewed and has withstood criticism. But this entire chapter was only sourced from his own previous works. Even works containing ideas he currently rejects. Here are the sources for this entire section:

    image.png

    And the only exception is where he quoted the Bible in footnote #4. And here he rejects the INSIGHT book which identifies Pul as Tiglath-Pileser III.

  19. And from 1360 BCE, Mansikka finally jumps over to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, the Nebuchadnezzar II of Biblical fame:

    Date of Nebuchadnezzar II's reign

    In a more recent phase of the investigation, in the winter of 2020, progress was made in examining Babylonia’s business documents. The first of these was to identify overlaps during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar II, Amel-Marduk, and Neriglissar, kings of Babylon.6 Since it is unlikely that they would have ruled in part at the same time, it was also simple to conclude that the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II must be postponed for at least two years. With this correction, the chronology has been extended by 2 years, with a further 23 years remaining.

    6 P.Mansikka: NCUSE, Volume II, 2020, pp. 22- 24

    I purchased the 2019 version of NCUSE, which covers this same material on different pages, but I do not have the 2020 version of the same book.  I assume (from the updates Pekka Mansikka has provided) that this is the same information covered later in the 2019 volume, and within pages 20-27 of NCUSE, Volume III based on the TOC he provided with the updates.  (Note that Mansikka labels these books Vol I, II and III, when they are apparently just 3 editions of the same book, re-ordering the pages, and replacing obsolete material with new material.)

    The very convoluted overview of that material in the last two sentences in the above quote are not presented any clearer in the NCUSE material ("Volume I"), although that idea covers several pages. Perhaps when and if I purchase "Volume III" I can do a better job on this.

    For now however I can see that he has merely ended up with the same mistakes that Furuli presented. If one looks closely at how this material was originally presented, they would be rightfully accused of scholastic dishonesty. It is possible that Furuli merely copied from some source, which means he was only passing along information that came from a very dishonest and hypocritical source. I believe that Mansikka is only passing along information from Furuli here, so that I cannot blame Mansikka as being the original dishonest and hypocritical source here.

     He probably doesn't realize he is taking some of the blame for the dishonesty himself, by claiming he investigated (in the winter of his dis-contents) and examined Babylonia's business documents. The "holy grail" of these business documents is to try to find some inconsistency or anomaly that can overturn the transitions between regnal years, the ordered timeline, and therefore the chronology. Even though it's still probably less than half of the 50,000 business documents that have been fully published, it's likely that all of them have been scanned by archaeologists for the anomalies, because these always get the most attention, and could make any archaeologist famous for being the one to find real evidence that could overthrow a long-established chronology.

    But he, too, (as of 2019, at least) has succumbed to the pretense that such anomalies exist, and that an anomaly of only a few days difference can somehow be blown up into adding 20 years to the timeline and chronology.

    I'll get to the specifics, as soon as I can find out whether any of the 2020 material was supposed to make any of my 2019 Mansikka material obsolete.

     

  20. Mansikka's next point will go without much comment at all. It's about an eclipse from around 1360 BCE that somehow supports 809 vs 763 BCE and 809 vs 791 BCE. The difference is as much as 570 years here, more than half a millennium!

    Finding the solar eclipse of Mursili II In July 2018, the solar eclipse scheduled for the 10th year of Mursili II's rule could be attributed to July 1360 BC. This finding was influenced by the information found in the Amarna letters that Suppiluliium I, the predecessor of Mursili II, died fairly soon after the death of an unnamed pharaoh.5 The relegation of Mursili II's reign to some extent also directly affects how the chronology of Babylonia and Assyria can be dated to the 6th and 7th centuries BC. This period of Mursili II's reign has also been found to support the year 809 BC. In the 9th year of the reign of Ashur-Dan III, King of Assyria. On the other hand, it does not support the assertion that the Assyrian solar eclipse took place in 791 BC.

    This section has no footnotes or references that show the connection between 1360 BCE and 809 BCE.

  21. Mansikka next goes on to discuss (in a few sentences) the reign of Pul and Tiglath-Pileser as it relates to King Menahem of Israel.

    King Pul of Assyria

    When the year 809 BC was applied Ashur-Dan III’s reign, it also paved the way for a new interpretation of the reigns of the Assyrian kings in the 7th century BC. The history of Israel tells of this activity of Pul, the king of Assyria in question:

    “King Pul of Assyria came to the land, and Menahem gave Pul 1000 talents of silver. . . . And Menahem gathered silver out of Israel. . . and gave it to the king of Assyria.”4

    Assyriologists have found confirmations for this event. Tiglath-Pileser III boasts of inheriting taxes from King Menahem of Israel. However, according to biblical chronology, Menaheim's reign ended as early as 780 BC. about. The 18-year reign – 12 – of Tiglath-Pileser III did not go so far back in time. Thus, this paved the way - in the early stages of the study in the winter of 2017 - for the reign of King Pul, or Pulu, of the Assyrian, which lasted about 18 years before the reign of Tiglat-Pileser III began.

    This is just another reflection of Mansikka trying to improve on the more flexible admission of the INSIGHT book:

    *** INSIGHT-2 p. 1102 Tiglath-pileser (III) ***
    In ancient Assyrian records Tiglath-pileser III is assigned a reign of 18 years. Biblical references, however, seem to indicate that his kingship was of longer duration, inasmuch as references to him appear from the time of Menahem down to that of Hoshea. But the Hebrew Scriptures do not set forth all the details needed for one to state positively that the Assyrian records are in error in this case. This is so for several reasons: There is some uncertainty regarding the manner in which the reigns of the Israelite kings are to be fitted into a chronological framework. It is also worth noting that the period prior to the time generally assigned for the start of Tiglath-pileser’s reign is one of relative obscurity as far as the ancient records are concerned and is considered to have been a time of great decline for the Assyrians.

    However, to accomplish this Mansikka apparently has to separate the reign of Pul from Tiglath-Pileser III, where INSIGHT would say:

    *** INSIGHT-2 p. 1101 Tiglath-pileser (III) ***
    During the reign of King Menahem of Israel (c. 790-781 B.C.E.), Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) advanced into Palestine, and Menahem sought the Assyrian’s favor by paying him tribute to the amount of “a thousand talents of silver” ($6,606,000 in current values).

    Thus, Mansikka would double the 18-year reign of Tiglath-Pileser (archaeological dates: 745 to 727) by adding a twin 18-year reign of Pul, thus supposedly adding 20 years the WTS needs, plus another 18 years for Pul, so that 745+18+20=784 BCE to reach the WTS date range for Menahem.

    Mansikka doesn't admit the circular reasoning going on here. So when he says, the 18-year reign did not go so far back in time "according to Biblical chronology" he doesn't mean that the "Bible" has anything to do with this. It just means that the WTS placed it farther back in time, and the extra 20 years that the WTS not only conflicts with Neo-Babylonian chronology, it also conflicts with Assyrian chronology.

    Instead of admitting that this actually is further evidence against the "wishful thinking" chronology of the WTS, Mansikka takes the WTS position and assumes that all other chronologies must be off. Like the little drummer boy who marches to the beat of his own drum and assumes it was everyone else in the band who were wrong.

    Of course, marching to the beat of your own drum produces ridicule by experts, and this feeds directly into the us/them psychology, or even persecution psychology, that some Witnesses thrive on. Like a good conspiracy theory, it's the very lack of evidence that is therefore turned into perceived "evidence." The ridicule over our belief without evidence (faith) supposedly makes us right, like a small David standing before a Goliath of evidence. We believe we must be right if the so-called experts all say something else. This is turned into a "Bible vs secular" argument, which some will turn into a "Jehovah vs Satan" argument. In reality it's nothing more than the "WTS vs Bible&archaeology." Ultimately, the WTS is accepted over the Bible&archaeology because . . . well, because FDS & 1914!

  22. The rest of this might be boring 😊 but just to be thorough, we should look at the rest of his book:

    We left off above on page 9, where Mansikka reviews his own studies that would put a solar eclipse dated to the 9th year of Ashur-Dan on June 809 BCE instead of June 763 BCE.

    The timing of this eclipse opened the door to a considerable extension of the chronology also on an archaeological basis and not solely on the basis of Israeli history.

    Somehow, he thinks that identifying an eclipse usually associated with 763 but which could have referred to one 46 years earlier will change Nebuchadnezzar's reign, because he wants a 46 year difference in Assyrian history to negates all the many eclipses and planetary observations recorded from Neo-Babylonian history (where the Watchtower Society requires an unrelated 20 year extension).

    In his review of his own research, Mansikka's then goes on to discuss Esarhaddon's reign from 100 years later than Ashur-Dan.

    Timing of Esarhaddon's reign

    In early March 2017, more than a month after the start of the study, a translation by Professor Smith of the cuneiform of the Esarhaddon Chronicle was found.2 On this basis, already at that early stage, was applied in 704 BC October eclipse to the 1st year of Esarhaddon. The new chronology clearly began to take shape.

    The footnote/reference #2 is to the book which contains the outdated Nabonidus theory. So it refers to that book, pages 16 and 19-23. I will not get into the convoluted reasoning from that book, but the basic idea is take advantage of differences of opinion about a specific translation, which may refer to either a solar or lunar eclipse in the first year of Esarhaddon. In addition there is evidence of either a lunar or solar eclipse related to Esarhaddon's campaign in Egypt, which he ties to years 10 to 12. Mansikka believes we should look for either lunar or solar eclipses from 700 BCE to 681 BCE for a 10th-12th year of Esarhaddon that might also end up allowing a match for the lunar or solar eclipse in the first year of Esarhaddon.

    The date of Esarhaddon’s reign, already outlined at the beginning of that dissertation, also showed the need for a strong extension of the chronology. In the winter of 2020, it was seen necessary to postpone Esarhaddon's reign for another year.3 Thereafter, the need to extend the chronology after Esarhaddon is 25 years.

    Mansikka's goal, apparently, is to show that If a person can take all these poorly defined eclipses seriously enough to pinpoint to a specific year that is different from the generally accepted dating of those years, then Mansikka can somehow convince readers that we should not take seriously the very well-defined eclipses of the Neo-Babylonian period.

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