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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:

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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.

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