The Stratigraphy of the 19th Dynasty in Asia Minor 

Alan Montgomery


Velikovsky claimed the 19th and 26th  Dynasties were the same and belong to the 7th and 6th centuries. To support  his claim he compared the campaigns of Ramses II from Egyptian texts and  Necho II from the Greek and Hebrew texts and demonstrated that they both  fought in the same places, in the same order, the same time apart with the  same result [Velikovsky, 1978, p. 59]. Furthermore, Petrie found a temple of  Rameses II at Tahpanhes, a 26th Dynasty site. Psammetichus (663 - 610 GAD)  of the 26th Dynasty had granted Tahpanhes to his Greek and Carian  mercenaries. It existed during the 26th Dynasty until the time of Amasis  (569 -525). He found no artifacts of dynasties 20 to 25 (12th-7th  century).

Excavators at Lachish found a temple with 19th Dynasty  artifacts also contained Iron Age Israelite material. The stratum of the  time Nebuchadnezzar, circa 590, contained the scarabs of Ramses II circa  1290. Coincidentally, the city of Lachish suffered similar major  conflagrations during both Ramses' IIƊand Nebuchadnezzar's II reign  [Velikovsky, 1978, p. 44 - 49].

At Byblos, the tomb of Ahiram  presented yet a third problem. The king was buried in a coffin made by his  son. His son's inscription was in Phoenician script of the 8th or 7th  century as was the imported Cypriot pottery but the broken Egyptian vases  and the coffin in the tomb were from the time of Ramses II [Velikovsky,  1978].

These odd 600-year connections originated in Anatolia. In the  19th century, archaeologists found Hittite sculpture in Boghazkoi. Art  historian, Puchstein, concluded that the art of Boghazkoi in the time of the  Hittite empire was influenced by Late Assyrian conceptions, which had not  penetrated Cappadocia until the 7th century [Puchstein, 1890. p. 13]. Then,  in the archives of Hattusilas III, a Hittite copy of a treaty with Rameses  II was found in 1906. The date of imperial Boghazkoi was raised by 600 years  to match the historical synchronism. A 600-year gap was left, however,  between the 13th century Hittite empire and the Neo-Babylonian/Persian  period. Despite this and the artistic evidence, Egyptian chronology was not  doubted.

This situation paralleled the one Petrie had created by  discovering Mycenaean pottery in Egypt. Petrie's finds had placed the  Mycenaean period in the 18th Dynasty, dated from the 16th to 14th centuries,  500 years earlier than the Greek archaeologists allowed. James documented  unacceptably large gaps in the Mediterranean, Syrian, Palestinian, and  Anatolian strata of 250 - 500 years. He concluded they were caused by poor  Egyptian chronology. What would be the result if James's method were applied  to the problems of the 19th Dynasty? If the 600-year gap at Boghazkoi is  prevalent at other 19th Dynasty sites then it is Egyptian chronology that is  flawed.

Seti I and Ramses II both mentioned the capture of Qatna in  their wars against the Hittites. After they withdrew from Syria about 1200,  the site lay vacant for over half a millennium until it experienced a brief  revival in the first half of the sixth century, " [Pfeiffer, 1966. p. 469].  Ugarit was a port city on the Syrian coast opposite Cyprus and was under the  rule of Egypt in the Middle Kingdom as well as the New Kingdom. Curtis  states its post-19th Dynasty obscurity in these words, "Although the history  of Ugarit really comes to an end in the twelfth century." In the seventh and  sixth centuries the highest point in the Tell was inhabited, as is shown by  the remains of buildings and a small cemetery of sarcophagi made of large  stone slabs, which contain iron spears, bronze brooches and alabaster flasks  [Curtis, 1985, p. 48]. There were no significant artifacts in  between.

Byblos was Egypt,s primary client state in Asia. Montet, in  1921, discovered the tomb of King Ahiram (see above). Afterward, Dunand  found many steles that commemorated Ramses's II victories in Syria. His  assistant, Jedijian, would write this observation, "The results of  excavations at Byblos have shown a curious fact which has been a source of  discussion among scholars. In the excavated area at Byblos there is a  complete absence of stratified levels of the Iron Age, that is the period of  1200-600 BC [Jedijian, 1986, p. 57]." During this period, Byblos was  supposedly a thriving commercial centre.

Alalakh fell into the hands  of the Hittites during the reign of Suppiluliumas 1380 - 1340 (GAD). During  the twelfth century the Hittite Empire fell. Smith in describing the art at  Alalakh from the twelfth century said, "Still more interesting are the  sculptures belonging to the palace of this period. The lions belong to the  earliest stage of the type that lasted in Syria for six centuries and  closely resemble those, which guard the tomb of Ahiram of Byblos [Smith, S.  1946. p. 46]. Is the six centuries of unchanging sculpture an anomaly of  Alalakh or is the date of Ramses II 600 years in error?

In Anatolia  lies Gordion, the ancient capital of Phrygia, home of the legendary of  Midas. The earliest Phrygian deposits can be dated by imported Greek pottery  to the late 9th and early 8th century. Gordion was invaded and sacked by the  Cimmerians during the 7th century and was conquered by Cyrus the Persian in  the 6th century. Excavation under an American team headed by Young found a  stratum above the Phrygian level and below the Persian. Such a stratum could  only be dated between 680 and 550. The ceramic sherds at this level were  from the final stage of the Hittite empire- the time of Hattusilas III.  Thus, were it not for the synchronism to Ramses II of the 13th century, the  final stage of the Hittite empire would be dated to the 7th  century.

Having looked generally at the Ramesside levels in Asia and  found evidence from stratigraphy that Ramses II was a 7th century pharaoh,  we need to examine a specific case in more detail. At Beth Shan more  Egyptian material was found than any other Israelite location [Mazar, 1990,  p. 282]. Its location at the junction of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan  River made it a strategic military post. In the 18th, 19th and 20th  Dynasties the Egyptians kept garrisons of troops and mercenaries there.  Rowe, the excavator of Beth Shan, designated the upper Strata IX to V to the  18th, 19th and the early 20th Dynasty. Levels IX, VIII, and VII are ascribed  to the 18th Dynasty. Levels VI and V are ascribed to the 19th and early 20th  Dynasties. The succeeding Stratum IV was ascribed to the period of the Late  20th Dynasty, Judges and Philistines, Israelite kings, Assyrians,  Psammetichus and the Scythians as well as the Neo-Babylonians and the early  years of the Persians. Whereas 5 strata are assigned to just over 300 years,  the one and only Israelite stratum was assigned over 700 years. Furthermore,  the thickness of Stratum IV is eight times thinner than the combined Strata  V and VI, circa 150 years. This is unacceptable.

Indeed, Mazar  reports that Level VII belongs to the 19th Dynasty and Level VI to the 20th  Dynasty. In the conventional view this leaves three levels VI to IV for the  Israelite levels. Though he cites Rowe as a reference, he gives no  explanation of the discrepancy. Although it is suggested that the  Philistines followed the 20th Dynasty, Rowe reports no Philistine pottery at  this level.

Associated with the Seti/Ramses II levels were anthropoid  clay coffins that Rowe identified these as belonging to their Aegean and  Anatolian (Sherdenen) mercenaries that were a "major part of the garrison  left at Beth-Shan [Rowe, 1930, p. 26]." The anthropoid coffins are also  found in Egypt in sites associated with the both the 19th and 26th  Dynasties.

Psammetichus of the 26th Dynasty also invaded Palestine  with Aegean and Anatolian mercenaries in the 7th century [Herodotus, The  Histories (Trans. Aubrey de Selincourt) Penguin Books, Harmondsworth. p.  191]. Psammetichus encountered Scythian invaders at Beth Shan and offered  Beth Shean to them to settle. They remained there throughout the Persian and  Hellenistic eras. The city became known as Scythopolis. Despite this there  is no sign of any inscriptions, monuments or artifacts of Psammeticus or  Necho II. Furthermore, no artifacts identified as Assyrian or Neo-Babylonian  is reported either. Only a statue of Ramses III is found in Level V. If Seti  I and Ramses II (1300 - 1200 BC) directly overlie the Scythians in Level IV  during the Neo-Babylonian and Persian times (600 - 300 BC), there remains a  600-year gap, just like the Syrian sites.

In Anatolia and Syria,  deposits dated or synchronized to the 19th Dynasty coexist with and/or are  superimposed by deposits of the 7th and 6th century. Furthermore, evidence  of the invasions of Psammetichus and Necho II are missing from all these  sites. At Beth Shean excavations have also clearly revealed another 600-year  gap, even though there is a great deal of identifiable Egyptian material. It  is hopeless to carry on special pleading any longer to avoid the obvious.  There is no 600-year gap. The 19th Dynasty existed in the 7th not the 13th  century. The 19th and 26th Dynasties are the same as Velikovsky has claimed  [Velikovsky, 1978].

Other papers by by Alan  Montgomery:


Curtis, A.  1985. Cities of the
biblical world: Ugarit. Eerdmans. Grand Rapids.  p. 48

Herodotus. The Histories (Trans. Aubrey de Selincourt).  Penguin Books. Harmondsworth. p. 191

Jedijian, N. 198
6. Byblos  through the ages. Beirut. Dar el-Machreq. P.57

Mazar, A. 1990.  Archeology of the land of
the Bible: 10,000 - 586 BC. Doubleday, New  York.

Puchstein, O.
1890. Pseudohethitsche Kunst, Berlin. p.  13

Pfeiffer, C. 1966. The biblical world: A dict
ionary of  biblical archaeology. Baker Books. Grand Rapids. p. 469

A. 1930. Topography and Historyy of Beth-Shean. University Press.  Philadelphia. p. 26

Smith, S. 1946. Alalakh and chronology. Luzac and  Company. London. p. 46

ky, I. 1978. Ramses and his  times. Doubleday. Garden City, N.Y.

April 21,  2001. Updated March 11, 2008, March 21, 2009.

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