The Continuing Debate:
Replies to Critics and Further Research

Since the publication of CoD, we have steadily continued research into the many fields touched on. Critics have raised various objections, sometimes in rather heated terms, and we have replied in print to all the substantive criticisms raised, though this may not have been appreciated widely. To alleviate this problem, we include below a complete list of our published replies, together with our new publications advancing the model proposed in the book. (For more cut-and-thrust of the debate see our page on Frequently Asked Questions, where we aim to put the record straight.)

The first section below lists in chronological order published writings (in journals, books and periodicals) on a wide variety of topics. Short summaries are given, together with key quotes or comments highlighting important issues in the debate. Where possible, we hope in due course to add full online texts of all published material. Click on the links below to read those presently available. Some material may require an Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be obtained here. The second section, in preparation, will include new material specially written for this website.


  • James, P. J., Thorpe, I. J., Kokkinos, N., Morkot, R., Frankish, J., 1991. "Centuries of Darkness: Context, Methodology and Implications" [ 3.3M] (PDF available online by kind permission of the publishers), Cambridge Archaeological Journal 1:2, pp. 228-235.

    An invited paper written to coincide with the publication of Centuries of Darkness. Our paper was published as part of a Review Feature (pp. 227-253) together with these responses: Kenneth Kitchen: "Egyptian Chronology: Problem or Solution? (pp. 235-239); Barry Kemp: "Examining Ancient Crises" (pp. 239-244); Nicholas Postgate: "The Chronology of Assyria - An Insurmountable Obstacle" (pp. 244-246); Anthony Snodgrass: "The Aegean Angle" (pp. 246-247); Andrew and Susan Sherratt: "Urnfield Reflections" (pp. 247-250)

  • James, P. J. & Morkot, R., 1991. Letter [reply to Kitchen 1], Times Literary Supplement June 7, p. 15.

    Deals with Kitchen's ad hominem dismissal of CoD, his hypocritical attitude towards Manetho and his alleged 'dead-reckoning' of the Third Intermediate Period; ends with a challenge to prove his main point that there was no overlap between the 21st and 22nd Dynasties.

  • James, P. 1991. Letter [reply to Kitchen 2], Times Literary Supplement July 12, p. 13.

    A reply to Kitchen's reply - on TIP chronology, Assyrian parallel dynasties and the hapless Takeloth I.

  • James, P. J., Thorpe, I. J., Kokkinos, N., Morkot, R., Frankish, J., 1992. "Centuries of Darkness: A Reply to Critics" [ 642K], Cambridge Archaeological Journal 2:1, pp. 127-130. (PDF available online by kind permission of the publishers.)

    Short replies to the remarks of Kitchen, Kemp, Postgate, Snodgrass and the Sherratts in CAJ 1:2. Included are new arguments on a number of matters, e.g. the identification of the biblical Shishak. In the conclusion we threw down the gauntlet to our critics: "It must be clearly understood that adherents of the status quo cannot have it both ways. Cypriot and Palestinian archaeologists can no longer co-exist in a never-never land in which they 'agree' to differ about the dating of Black-on-Red by as much as two centuries. The situation is absurd. We have done our best to provide the kind of imaginative solution which Kemp, the Sherratts and others feel should be applied to the chronological problems of the Dark Ages. The onus is now on our critics to provide between them a better general strategy for resolving the abysmally muddled state of Late Bronze to Iron Age archaeology."

  • James, P. J. & Kokkinos, N., 1992-3, Letter [reply to Mellaart 1991/2], Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 12, p. 80.

    A reply to some fantastic claims made by James Mellaart in a review of Centuries of Darkness. (For further detail see Frequently Asked Questions Q12c.)

  • Morkot, R., 1994. "The Nubian Dark Age", in C. Bonnet (ed.), Études Nubiennes II. Actes du VIIe Congrès internationale d'études nubiennes, 3-8 septembre 1990 (Genève), pp. 45-47.

    A brief conference paper highlighting the issues of the Nubian Dark Age and its chronology.

  • James, P. J., 1996. "Updating the Centuries of Darkness", British Archaeology 13 (April), pp. 8-9.

    A short article for a general readership, summarising the case for the Centuries of Darkness model and reviewing some new evidence in support - including the dendrochronological results from Tille Hüyük and the stratigraphy of the Tel Dan stela.

  • James, P., Kokkinos, N., & Thorpe, I. J., 1998: "Mediterranean Chronology in Crisis" [ 1.8M], in M. S. Balmuth & R. H. Tykot (eds), Sardinian and Aegean Chronology: Proceedings of the International Colloquium 'Sardinian Stratigraphy and Mediterranean Chronology', Tufts University, March 17-19, 1995 (Studies in Sardinian Archaeology V - Oxbow Books), pp. 29-43 . (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors.). Corrigenda and Addendum to Postscript (Dec. 1998) [ 102K].

    Paper delivered at a major chronology conference. Topics covered include problems in Phoenician palaeographic dating (with particular respect to Sardinia), the tensions between Aegean and Palestinian archaeological chronologies, the setting of a late 8th to early 7th-century "Cypro-Phoenician horizon" as a solid benchmark for chronology-building (as far as Carthage), the controversies over Black-on-Red Ware and Samaria, problems of the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period (largely focussing on genealogical evidence for a 21st-22nd Dynasty overlap), implications for Central Mediterranean chronology, radiocarbon dating of the Aegean and dendrochronology in Anatolia (with some caveats about the misuses of both). Includes a full answer to Manning and Weninger's 1992 Antiquity article claiming that C14 dates from Greece refute our model. In the postscript (p. 41) we note, with some surprise, that Israel Finkelstein, who had previously argued for raising the dates of the Early Iron Age in Edom, had begun publishing papers arguing in a different direction: "Israel Finkelstein has outlined a radical revision of the Iron Age of Palestine which argues a lowering of Iron IIA ("10th-century") levels to the 9th century, similar to that proposed by the authors although attempting to work within the conventional chronology."

  • Morkot, R. 1999a. "The Origin of the Napatan State", in S. Wenig (ed.), Studien zum antiken Sudan (Akten der 7. Internationalen Tagung für meroitische Forschungen, 14-19 Sep. 1992 in Gosen/bei Berlin), pp. 139-48.

    This paper was presented in response to Timothy Kendall's main paper on "The Origin of the Napatan State" at the Seventh International Conference for Meroitic Studies at Berlin in 1992. It challenges the usual academic method of discussing 'Napatan' origins, which focusses almost exclusively on the chronology of the cemetery of el-Kurru, by taking broader themes of state formation (economic, military capability, ideology etc) and asking where we might look for evidence, and how all of these factors might relate to the period of Egyptian New Kingdom domination.

  • Morkot, R. 1999b. "Kingship and Kinship in the Empire of Kush", in S. Wenig (ed.), Studien zum antiken Sudan (Akten der 7. Internationalen Tagung für meroitische Forschungen, 14-19 Sep. 1992 in Gosen/bei Berlin), pp. 179-229.

    This was one of the principal discussion papers presented at the Seventh International Conference for Meroitic Studies at Berlin in 1992. It discusses the genealogy and succession of the 25th Dynasty kings and the evidence for their reign lengths. It considers these issues within the broader context of ancient 'Nubian' and Kushite states.

  • Morkot, R., 2000. The Black Pharaohs (London: Rubicon Press).

    A highly acclaimed study of the Nubian pharaohs of Egypt (25th Dynasty). See Recent Developments March 2000 and for publication details see Other Books by the Authors. In a general work, Robert Morkot works open-handedly with two dating systems in mind - the conventional and Centuries of Darkness chronologies. From the introduction (p. ix):

    The ideas expressed here are more developed than those in Centuries and if I have not chosen to be dogmatic on chronological revision, it is not because I have abandoned the idea: I still see it as the most convincing explanation of the problems of the Nubian (and other) "Dark Age".

    The volume contains a wealth of material (with copious plans, maps, photographs and drawings) on matters such as the El-Kurru cemetery, the rise of the Napatan dynasty and the chronology of the 25th Dynasty. Much new material is presented for consideration, notably the so-called "Neo-Ramesside" monarchs previously (and arbitrarily) dated to the Hellenistic period. Robert places these rulers at the time of the Libyan domination of Egypt (9th-8th centuries BC). This makes better sense of their "Neo-Ramesside" titularly, especially within the CoD chronology, which would allow the 20th (last Ramesside) Dynasty to end in the 9th century rather than the 11th.

  • James, P., 2002a. Review of I. Finkelstein & N. Silberman: The Bible Unearthed, Minerva [ 1300K] March/April, p. 64.

    A short review of a book in which Finkelstein moves close to the 'minimalist' position. Now arguing (as did Centuries of Darkness) that 10th-century "Solomonic" strata in Israel really belong to the 9th century, Finkelstein plunges kings David and Solomon into a new "dark age" and has to redefine them as local chieftains. As noted in the review, "...matters are not as straightforward as The Bible Unearthed would like us to believe. While Finkelstein stresses the fluidity of the chronology for early Israelite archaeology, his own analysis proceeds within an extremely narrow focus. It is not enough to adjust the dates of one part of Israel's archaeology (the 10th-9th centuries) and then compare the results to the biblical record. There is a need for a complete overhaul of ancient Near Eastern chronology."

  • James, P., 2002b. "The Dendrochronology Debate" [ 691K], Minerva July/August, p. 18.

    A brief update on developments in Peter Kuniholm's "Aegean Dendochronology Project", with caveats regarding its methodology, mistakes and publication record.

  • James, P., 2002c. Review of William Dever: What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? [ 122K], Palestine Exploration Quarterly 134:2, pp. 176-178.

    Dever is one of the most bitter critics of Centuries of Darkness (see his classic remarks in Quotes from Reviews). Here the favour is not quite returned, as Dever's book - in defence of the historical value of the biblical account during the period of the united and divided monarchies - has much to recommend it. Nevertheless, his attempts to reconstruct historical events from archaeology are deeply flawed. His analysis of the evidence for equating the biblical Shishak with Pharaoh Shoshenq I displays a complete lack of acquaintance with the basic source material. Ultimately Dever falls into much the same traps as the 'minimalists' that he attempts to answer - they have both failed to understand the chronological implications of Egyptologists' reliance on the biblical story of Shishak.

  • Morkot, R., 2003a. "On the Priestly Origin of the Napatan Kings: The Adaptation, Demise and Resurrection of Ideas in Writing Nubian History", in D. Connor (ed.), Ancient Egypt in Africa (London: UCL Press - Encounters with Ancient Egypt series), pp. 151-168.

    Examines the historiography of the 25th Dynasty, especially the idea that the Kushite ruling family were descendants of Theban priests. Discusses alternative relative chronologies of the Kurru cemetery against conventional and revised (CoD) absolute chronology, with a chart illustrating the different models.

  • Morkot, R. 2003b. "Archaism in Egyptian Art from the New Kingdom to the Late Period", in J. Tait (ed.), "Never Had the Like Occurred": Egypt's View of its Past (London: UCL Press - Encounters with Ancient Egypt series), pp. 79-100.

    This paper looks at the 'archaising' style of Kushite and Saite Egypt and its origins in the Libyan period, raising questions about the internal chronology of the Libyan period, and stylistic changes and developments. The paper does not attempt to resolve the specifics of Late Libyan chronology, but highlights some of the generally neglected material (such as that from the Sacred Lake at Tanis) and how interpreting changes in artistic style is reliant upon a sound internal chronology for the period.

  • James, P., 2003. "Naukratis Revisited", [ 493K] Hyperboreus: Studia classica 9:2, pp. 235-264.

    An in-depth article on the chronological significance of Naukratis, the first historically recorded Greek settlement in Egypt, from the leading Russian classics journal Hyperboreus. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors.) The abstract (translated from that published in Russian) reads as follows:

    Herodotus stated that the Greek settlement at Naukratis in Egypt began during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis (570-526 BC). It is usually maintained that archaeology has proven him wrong, as the presently accepted dating for Archaic Greek pottery places the colony in the late 7th century. A combination of stratigraphic and historical evidence, together with that provided by Egyptian, Cypriot and Phoenician artefacts, suggests that the Greek pottery dating is in error, rather than Herodotus. Naukratis may provide a neglected fixed point for Archaic chronology, now the subject of renewed controversy. The evidence from Naukratis (as well as Selinus and Old Smyrna) suggests that Greek ceramic chronology "c. 600 BC" needs to be lowered by some 25-35 years.

    This is the first of a planned series of articles dealing with the suggestion made in Centuries of Darkness that Archaic Greek pottery chronology c. 600 BC needs lowering by some three to four decades from the conventional model. The wider ramifications for the chronology of the Aegean and Palestine/Israel during the Iron Age will be discussed in further papers.

  • Morkot, R., 2004. "Le origini del regne di Kush", in S. Einaudi & F. Tiradritti (eds), L'Enigma di Harwa (Milan: Anthelios), pp. 19-41

    A summary in Italian of Robert's work on the El-Kurru cemetery, the Nubian "Dark Age" and the origins of the 25th Dynasty.

  • James, P., 2004. "The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Periods in Palestine" [ 69K], Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 22, pp. 47-58. . (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors.)

    A review article based on Ephraim Stern’s Archaeology of the Land of the Bible Vol. II: The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Periods 732-332 BCE (New York/London: Doubleday, 2001). In the words of the Editor of the Bulletin (p. 6), “Peter James surveys the strengths and weaknesses of the book, takes Stern to task on the supposed ‘gap’ in the Babylonian period, and provides some interesting insights concerning the chronological problems of that time.” The shaky nature of the dating of the three periods concerned is stressed, and the tension between an Archaic pottery chronology based on Greek history (principally Herodotus) and that presently preferred by excavators in Palestine is briefly explored.

  • James, P., 2005a. "The Date of the Ekron Temple Inscription - a Note" [ 55K], Israel Exploration Journal 55:1, pp. 90-93. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors.)

    Abstract: The famous inscription from Tel Miqne (Ekron) commemorates the building of the Stratum IC temple by Achish (Ikausu), a figure known from Assyrian records of the second quarter of the 7th century BCE. Thus the belief of the excavators that the temple was built “no later than the first quarter of the seventh century” is a non sequitur. A date c. 675-650 BCE for the construction of the temple is suggested and the implications for the chronology of Stratum IC considered.

  • James, P., 2005b. "Archaic Greek Colonies in Libya: Historical vs. Archaeological Chronologies?" [ 102K], Libyan Studies 36, pp. 1-20. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    Abstract: The presently accepted ceramic chronology places the earliest episodes of Greek colonisation in Libya some three to four decades earlier than the traditional historical dates. A similar offset between the archaeological and historical chronologies can be seen at Naukratis and other Archaic Greek sites. A review of 'fixed points' for Archaic dating shows that the balance of evidence now strongly favours a reduction of late seventh to early sixth century BC Greek ceramic chronology by three to four decades. Such a reduction would bring harmony between the archaeological and historical pictures for the founding of the Cyrenaican colonies, restoring confidence in the account given by Herodotus.

  • James, P., 2006. "Dating Late Iron Age Ekron (Tel Miqne) " [ 80K], Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 138:2 (2006), pp. 85-97. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    Abstract: A fresh approach is offered to the tangled arguments that surround the dating of late Iron Age Ekron (Tel Miqne). The only firm historical peg for dating the late Iron strata is provided by the temple inscription of Ikausu, an Ekronite ruler mentioned in Assyrian records in the second quarter of the seventh century BCE. From this evidence, somewhat lower dates than those of the excavators are argued for Strata IC to IA. The lower chronology suggested here should resolve the differences between various scholars regarding the character and historical associations of Ekron’s final Iron Age strata. Ramifications for the related debate over the dating of Greek Archaic pottery are considered.

  • James, P., 2007. Review of D. Ussishkin, The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish (1973-1994) (2004) [ 54K], Palestine Exploration Quarterly 139:3, 213-217. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

  • James, P. and van der Veen, P., 2008. “Geschichtsbild in Scherben?”, Spektrum der Wissenschaft Dec., pp. 88-93.

    The article summarises the case for a revised ancient Near Eastern chronology, focussing on recent discoveries and developments in the archaeology of Palestine. Published in the popular science magazine Spektrum de Wissenschaft, the German edition of Scientific American. It is accompanied by an article by Egyptologist Leo Depuydt putting the case for the status quo (pp. 78-87). For more detail see this link.

  • James, P., 2008. “The Alleged ‘Anchor Point’ of 732 BC for the Destruction of Hazor V” [ 1.4M], Antiguo Oriente 6, pp. 133-180. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors.)

    Abstract: All previous discussions of the chronology of Iron Age Hazor assume as an “anchor point” the destruction of Hazor V by Tiglath-pileser III in 732 BC. Re-examination of Yadin’s case for this date shows that it was merely an assumption on his part. A review of the dating evidence – partly historical but principally the input from the independently dateable archaeological chronologies of Cyprus, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia and Egypt – suggests that Hazor V fell much later than 732 BC. Consequently both the Yadin (“high”) and Finkelstein (“low”) models for the chronology of Iron II Hazor are working from an incorrect baseline. A model is offered here which, while arguing a shift of the Iron IIA period from the tenth to ninth century BC, does not unduly compress Strata X-VII, closes the alleged long settlement gap at the site during the Neo-Babylonian to Early Persian period and resolves numerous dating anomalies arising from imported finds.

  • Kokkinos, N., 2009a. "Re-dating the Fall of Sardis", Scripta Classica Israelica 28, pp. 1-23.

    Summary: Claiming to be based on strong Greek tradition, the prevailing view that the Fall of Sardis to the Persians occurred in 546 BC lacks justification. An analysis of all the relevant fragments of ancient Greek chronography shows that while a date of 548 BC is found in the Latin version of Eusebius (the end result of centuries of number juggling), a much lower date was current in the earliest Hellenistic period when chronography began. This was based on a Lydian king list different from that in Herodotus, and evidently that used by the chronographer of the Parian Marble to set the Fall as low as 542/1 BC (or 541/0 BC). The origins of this list may ultimately go back to the Lydian historian Xanthus, an older contemporary of Herodotus. Moreover, alleged support for the standard date from the Nabonidus Chronicle has fallen through – a new reading of the damaged toponym in the entry for Year 9 (547/6 BC) reveals that Cyrus attacked ‘U[rartu]’ not ‘Ly[dia]’. Further, analysis of the Chronicle shows that the Fall of Sardis can only have taken place between 544/3 and 540/39. Given this, it would be unwise not to give credit to the date of the Parian chronographer as restored here.

  • Morkot, R. and James, P., 2009. “Peftjauawybast, King of Nen-nesut: Genealogy, Art History, and the Chronology of Late Libyan Egypt” [ 577K], Antiguo Oriente 7, 13-55. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    Abstract: The paper argues in detail for the identification of Peftjauawybast, King of Nen-nesut (fl. 728/720 BC), with Peftjauawybast, High Priest of Ptah in Memphis (fl. c. 790-780 BC), known from the Apis stela of year 28 of Shoshenq III. This identification ties in with a significant lowering of the accepted dates for the kings from Shoshenq III, Osorkon III and Takeloth III to Shoshenq V, and the material culture associated with them. Such a shift seems to be supported by stylistic and genealogical evidence. As a consequence, it is further suggested that the Master of Shipping at Nen-nesut, Pediese i, was perhaps related by descent and marriage to the family of the High Priests of Memphis and King Peftjauawybast.

  • Kokkinos, N., 2009b. “Ancient Chronography, Eratosthenes and the Dating of the Fall of Troy”, Ancient West and East 8, 37-56.

    Abstract: Through close scrutiny of the surviving fragments of ancient chronography, it is possible to work out the way Eratosthenes, in his lost Chronographiai (ca. 220 BC), arrived at his date for the Fall of Troy (1183 BC) – a ‘universal’ reference point in antiquity. By combining new information from Manetho, with Timaeus, Ctesias, Herodotus and other sources, he devised a compromise chronology for the Greek past: ‘high’ enough to satisfy Hellenistic cultural interests, and ‘low’ enough to satisfy Alexandrian critical scholarship.What was reckoned originally to be an event of the 10th century BC, and later raised as far as the 14th century BC in competition with the older eastern civilisations, ended ‘appropriately’ being placed half-way in the 12th century BC. Surprisingly, this date, the mechanics of which were previously not fully understood, ultimately played a misleading role in the modern debate of the Greek archaeological ‘Dark Age’.

  • James, P., 2010. Review of A. Mazar, Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean 1989-1996. Volume 1: From the Late Bronze Age IIB to the Medieval Period (2006) [ 40K], Palestine Exploration Quarterly 142:1, 69-71. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    The review focusses on chronological problems at Beth-Shean and suggests some revisions in Iron Age dating in step with those argued for Hazor in James 2008

  • James, P. and Morkot, R., 2010. “Herihor’s Kingship and the High Priest of Amun Piankh” [ 207K], Journal of Egyptian History 3:2 (2010), pp. 231-260. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    Abstract: The theory of Jansen-Winkeln, which argues for a reversal of the traditional order of the late 20th-dynasty High Priests of Amun Herihor and Piankh, has provoked considerable controversy. The key to a resolution seems to lie in recognising that Herihor, on his elevation to kingship, was able (like later monarchs of the TIP) to co-opt a colleague/relative as High Priest of Amun.This way Piankh’s pontificate can be placed within the reign of King Herihor, explaining the genealogical and other evidence which might otherwise suggest a reversal of the two but avoiding the pitfalls of Jansen-Winkeln’s case. The evidence suggests a shortening of the high priestly genealogy at this period by one to two generations (from the standard/Kitchen model). A first step is offered here towards a new model involving a short overlap between the 20th and 21st dynasties, as well as between Herihor and Pinudjem I, as Upper Egyptian kings based at Thebes.

  • Kokkinos, N., 2010. “Julius Cassianus, Pseudo-Thallus, and the Identity of ‘Cassius Longinus’ in the Chronographia of Eusebius”, Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia 8, pp. 15-28. 

    The Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. AD 260-340), known as the ‘Father of Church History’, has had tremendous influence on our view of ancient chronology. For example, his dates for various events in Archaic Greek history are still followed by some classicists. As part of the CoD Ancient Chronography Review, this article is an interim study for one in preparation on Olympiad dating. It provides an introduction to Eusebius’ work, identifies his sources for the Olympic Victors List, and explores the possible origins of chronography as a subject among Christians.

  • Kokkinos, N., 2012. “A Note on the Date of Philo of Byblus”, Classical Quarterly 62.1, pp. 433-435. 

    An interim study for the author’s forthcoming paper on “The Tyrian Annals and Ancient Greek Chonography”, which investigates the dating of the Hellenized Phoenician writer Philo of Byblus. He is best known for his controversial Phoenician History, claiming to include a Greek translation of a Phoenician document of remote antiquity written by one Sanchuniathon. Philo flourished under Hadrian but there has been confusion regarding the precise span of his life. To settle this, a suggestion is offered by a close reading of the text of the Suda, our main source for Philo’s career.

  • James, P., 2012. “Review Article: Tree-rings, Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment” (185K), Palestine Exploration Quarterly 144:2, pp. 144-150. . (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).

    A review of a festschrift for dendrochronologist Peter Kuniholm, on his retirement as Director of the Aegean Dendrochronology Project – S. W. Manning and M. J. Bruce (eds), Tree-Rings, Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment: Papers Presented in Honor of Peter Ian Kuniholm (Oxford, 2009). The article assesses Kuniholm’s contribution to the chronology of ancient Anatolia and the Aegean and finds it wanting, particularly in his attempts to raise Late Bronze and Early Iron Age chronology. It is concluded that, far from solving the problems of ancient Anatolian chronology, Kuniholm’s poorly published results have “merely thrown it into a quandary”. A special section of the volume discusses (pro and con) attempts to raise the date of the Bronze Age eruption of Thera: this reveals that there is no serious evidence for proxy-dating the event (through ice-cores or tree-rings) while a ‘volcano-effect’ may well have seriously skewed the radiocarbon results from the island.

  • Kokkinos, N., 2013. “The Tyrian Annals and Ancient Greek Chronography”, Scripta Classica Israelica 32, pp. 21-66.

    Summary. The value of the ‘Tyrian Annals’, the fragments of which are preserved primarily in Josephus, has often been doubted. However, an examination of literary evidence from Thales of Miletus to Timaeus of Tauromenium shows that the Greeks were well aware of Phoenician ancient records. One Hieronymus, in the 3rd century BC, followed by Menander of Ephesus, in the 2nd century BC, officially translated the ‘Tyrian Annals’ into Greek. The core of the original archive was a king-list (stating names, ages and reign lengths), covering the 10th to 6th centuries BC, annotated with brief historical notices relating the major acts performed by the kings. The list will have been composed working from local archives in the early Persian period. Surviving fragments concern three ‘floating’ segments which can be pegged in time and augmented by Assyrian and Babylonian synchronisms. The first begins with Hiram I, from 955/4 BC, with the third ending with Hiram III in 533/2 BC. The use of the ‘Tyrian Annals’ by Timaeus explains his extraordinary knowledge in providing a late 9th century date for the founding of Carthage (against current opinion placing it centuries earlier), close to the historical date of 808/7 BC that can now be calculated from the Annals. Timaeus’ bold move changed the entire perspective of ancient Greek chronography, radically shifting the focus from a vague heroic past into a decidedly realistic historical context. The ‘Tyrian Annals’ had also included the date for the fall of Troy, firmly placed in the 10th century BC. Many Greek chronographers found this difficult to swallow in their political desire to claim a higher antiquity for their own cultural past.

  • James, P. and Morkot, R., 2013. “Two Studies in 21st Dynasty Chronology: I. Deconstructing Manetho’s 21st Dynasty; II. The Datelines of High Priest Menkheperre” (488K), Journal of Egyptian History 6:1, pp. 219-256. (PDF available online by kind permission of the publishers.)

    Abstract, Part I: There has never been any consensus on the nature, composition and chronology of the “21st Dynasty”. Recent research has produced an ever-increasing multiplicity of rival models, most still relying on the information given in the surviving epitomes of the Hellenistic scholar Manetho. The claim that the regnal years given by “Manetho” for the 21st Dynasty are corroborated by the monuments is completely unjustified and based on circular reasoning. Progress can only be made by completely abandoning reliance on Manetho (a hangover from early 19th century, predecipherment, scholarship) once and for all.

    Abstract, Part II: This section of the article follows up a model we proposed for the early 21st Dynasty in JEgH (2010), which suggested that Piankh held the pontificate while Herihor was king. Such a model could resolve the recent debate regarding the order of HPAs Herihor and Piankh. Here the next major controversy of 21st Dynasty chronology is addressed – the question of whether the high year dates from the time of HPA Menkheperre belonged to King Psusennes or Amenemope of Tanis. It is argued that they belonged to neither, but to the wḥm-mswt or “Renaissance” era which started late in the reign of Ramesses XI. Allocating the high datelines from the pontificate of Menkheperre to the wḥm-mswt would resolve a number of otherwise intractable problems, and results in a shortening of 21st Dynasty chronology by some four decades, in step with both archaeological and genealogical evidence.

    Morkot, R., 2014. “All in the Detail: Some Further Observations on ‘Archaism’ and Style in Libyan-Kushite- Saite Egypt”, in E. Pischikova, J. Budka & K. Griffin, Thebes in the First Millennium BC (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), pp. 379-395.

    Abstract: The issue of “archaism” in the artistic production of Libyan-Kushite- Saite Egypt has been widely debated, and its complex sources and developments are now being more closely charted. Three details – the shape of the cartouche base, ear tabs, and the “reeded” lines on the red crown – are presented here as further features for discussion which might enable further understanding of models, sources, and chronological and geographical use of elements.

  • James, P., 2015a. “Kings of Jerusalem at the Late Bronze to Iron Age Transition – Forerunners or Doubles of David and Solomon?” [ 4.5M], in P. James & P. G. van der Veen (eds), Solomon and Shishak: Current Perspectives from Archaeology, Epigraphy, History and Chronology. Proceedings of the Third BICANE Colloquium held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 26-27 March, 2011 (BAR International Series 2732). Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 236-257.

    Egyptian texts are notorious for not referring to enemy or subject kings by name, to the extent of sometimes not mentioning the existence of such rulers. Yet it has become increasingly clear – from a range of evidence including results from recent art-historical analyses – that the Egyptian New Kingdom ‘empire’ in Syro-Palestine was largely controlled through a system of vassal rulers. Archaeological evidence can be used to posit the existence of a local dynasty based at Jerusalem during the time of the late 19th and early 20th Dynasties, c. 1200 BC on conventional dating. The monumental architecture there shows that there was an organised state, while connections with Egypt are shown by the fragments of an apparent Egyptianising building (palace or tomb?) and other Egyptian objects. If we allow this hypothetical dynasty to have ruled a wider territory, including Megiddo and the Jordan Valley then a surprising series of parallels appears with the activities of the Davidic dynasty. It is acknowledged that the plan and furnishing of Solomon’s Temple belong to a Late Bronze tradition. Are the figures of David and Solomon based on memories of a Late Bronze dynasty centred on Jerusalem or is there something fundamentally wrong with the archaeological dating based on Egyptian chronology?

  • James, P. & van der Veen, P., 2015. “When did Shoshenq I Campaign in Palestine?” [ 1.45M], in Solomon and Shishak (as above), pp. 127-136.

    As argued elsewhere (Centuries of Darkness and in many papers), Shoshenq I (founder of the 22nd Dynasty) was not the ‘Shishak’ who invaded Judah c. 925 BC. In our opinion, genuine dead-reckoning from the highest attested years from the monuments (see e.g. James & Morkot and Thijs in this volume), epigraphical dating (e.g. early 22nd-dynasty sculptures with Phoenician inscriptions – see van der Veen, ‘Early Iron Age Epigraphy... ’ in this volume) and the archaeology of Megiddo (see Chapman in this volume), show that Shoshenq I must have been a pharaoh of the mid to late 9th century BC rather than the 10th. In this case, what reflection might there be of his campaign in biblical or extra-biblical records?

  • Kokkinos, N., 2015. “Josephus and Greek Chronography: Troy, Solomon, Shishak and Ramesses III”, in Solomon and Shishak (as above), pp. 155-189.

    The chronography of Josephus, as presented in his major work the Jewish Antiquities, with significant additions in his Against Apion, covered the entire past of his nation. The antiquity of the Jews was defended by use of Graeco-Oriental chronographical sources, beginning with Manetho. Josephus claimed that Jacob lived some 1000 years (and Moses nearly 500) before the Fall of Troy, the earliest event thought as historical by Greeks. This event he placed at c. 1120 BC, lower than Eratosthenes’ canonical 1183 BC, but within the wider Greek estimates extending from 1335 to c. 937 BC. Given Josephus’ dating of the beginning of Solomon’s reign to 1129 BC, the king had to be contemporary with Troy. This synchronism, recorded in the Tyrian Annals, is not explicitly spelt out by the Jewish historian for understandable reasons. The Annals followed a ‘low’ chronology, placing the Trojan War in the 10th century, incompatible with the ‘high’ chronology originally employed by Josephus placing it in the 12th. The problem of absolute chronology was intensified by the internal difficulties of Biblical dating, such as the Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the baseline for all calculations back in time, which had been set higher than reality, producing an error of 73 years. To this Josephus added various erroneous time-lengths back to Moses, including the addition of 40 years to the reign of Solomon. Such inflations in the ‘absolute’ chronology meant that significant ‘relative’ links, previously discussed in the Antiquities, had to be downplayed in Apion. This included the friendship of Solomon with the ‘Queen of Sheba’ and the identity of king ‘Shishak’ who invaded Jerusalem after Solomon’s death. Manetho placed the Fall of Troy in the reign of ‘Thouoris’, i.e. the female pharaoh Tausret. Had Josephus known the gender of Thuoris, he would have jumped to the opportunity to identify her with the Queen of Sheba, instead of the remote Nitocris. This would have provided him with the desired synchronism of Solomon with Troy from the Phoenician record. It would also have provided him with a powerful pharaoh following Thuoris, to identify with ‘Shishak’, namely ‘Rhampsinitos’ – almost certainly Ramesses III.

  • Morkot, R. & James, P., 2015. “Dead-reckoning the Start of the 22nd Dynasty: from Shoshenq V back to Shoshenq I” [ 1.2M], in Solomon and Shishak (as above), pp. 20-41.

    Kenneth Kitchen and other Egyptologists have claimed that a 10th-century BC date for Shoshenq I (founder of the 22nd Dynasty) can be arrived at not only from a philological identification with the biblical Shishak, but from chronological ‘dead-reckoning’ backwards through the Third Intermediate Period. One problem here is: where is the fixed point from which one begins retrocalculation? Kitchen himself counts backwards from his ‘Osorkon IV’, whom he identifies with the like-named king from the Piye Stela and the Shilkanni mentioned in Assyrian records in 716 BC. Yet there is no firm evidence that such an Osorkon ‘IV’ ever existed, while there is a mounting case for a return to the position of earlier Egyptologists that the king in question was the well-attested Osorkon III, presently dated to the first quarter of the 8th century BC. Equating him with the Osorkon of Piye would require lowering the dates of Osorkon III (and the last incumbents of the 22nd Dynasty) by some 40-50 years – a position strongly supported by archaeological, art-historical and genealogical evidence. Using these later dates, dead-reckoning backwards through the Dynasty (using the Pasenhor genealogy, Apis bull records and attested reign lengths) brings us to a date for Shoshenq I in the second half of the 9th century. This would place him a century later than the biblical Shishak, making the equation of the two untenable. Another candidate needs to be sought for the biblical ‘king Shishak’.

  • van der Veen, P. & James, P., 2015a. “Zeraḥ the Kushite: A New Proposal Regarding His Identity” [ 680K], in Solomon and Shishak (as above), pp. 117-126.

    The authors present a new proposal regarding the identity of King Asa’s adversary Zeraḥ the Kushite (2 Chron. 14:9-15). While the latter remains a mystery within the conventional scheme (no military campaign is attested during the reign of the contemporary Pharaoh Osorkon I), this situation appears to be decidedly different if Asa’s reign coincided with the late Ramesside period, as would be the case in the Centuries of Darkness model.

  • James, P. & van der Veen, P., 2015b. “Hat die Bibel Doch Recht?”, Spezial Archäologie - Geschcihte - Kultur 4. (German Scientific American)

    Does Archaeology confirm the Bible after all? When did king Solomon reign? Or did he exist at all? A revision of traditional chronology of Palestinian archaeology by 100 or even 200-250 years may ease things for archaeologists in their search for evidence, but it would also have consequences for the history of ancient Egypt.

  • James, P., 2015b. “Meẓad Ḥashavyahu Reconsidered: Saite Strategy and Archaic Greek Chronology” [, 260K], in T. P. Harrison, E. B. Banning & S. Klassen (eds), Walls of the Prince:Egyptian Interactions with Southwest Asia in Antiquity: Essays in Honour of John S. Holladay, Jr. (Leiden: Brill), pp. 333-370, by kind permission of the publishers”.

    Summary. The dating of the short-lived settlement at Meẓad Ḥashavyahu near the coast of southern Palestine has long been the subject of controversy. Because of the Greek pottery finds there it became embroiled in sometimes circular arguments over the chronology of Early Corinthian and related Archaic pottery styles. These issues and the related question of the fall of pre-Persian Ashkelon are reviewed and a lower dating offered for the site (as allowed by John Holladay as early as 1976) in the early 6th rather than late 7th century BC. The site was almost certainly a small fortress housing a garrison of Greek mercenaries, placed strategically to support the nearby harbour-town of Yavneh-Yam – both being under Egyptian control. The question is raised as to which historical circumstances would best suit the construction of Meẓad Ḥashavyahu by the 26th Dynasty pharaohs. It is argued from a number of lines of evidence that the fortress was constructed as part of the ambitious maritime policy of Apries (589-570 BC) and that it was abandoned near the end of his reign when the Babylonians advanced towards Egypt.

  • James, P., 2015c. “Solomon, Shishak and Controversies of Ancient Chronology: an interview with Peter James”, Damqātum 11, pp. 3-6, by kind permission of the editors.

    Damqātum is the newsletter of the Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente: Universidad Catolica Argentina). (See their website where another issue contains a short paper by our colleague Robert Porter on radiocarbon dates from Egypt and dendrochronology).

  • James, P., 2017a. Review of Aidan Dodson, Afterglow of Empire: Egypt from the Fall of the New Kingdom to the Saite Renaissance (2012) [ 340K], Palestine Exploration Quarterly 149:4, 336-339.

  • James, P., 2017b. “The Levantine War-records of Ramesses III: Changing Attitudes, Past, Present and Future”, [ 2.74M] Antiguo Oriente 15, pp. 57-147. By kind permission of the editor.

    Abstract: This paper begins with a historiographic survey of the treatment of Ramesses III’s claimed war campaigns in the Levant. Inevitably this involves questions regarding the so-called “Sea Peoples.” There have been extraordinary fluctuations in attitudes towards Ramesses III’s war records over the last century or more – briefly reviewed and assessed here. His lists of Levantine toponyms also pose considerable problems of interpretation. A more systematic approach to their analysis is offered, concentrating on the “Great Asiatic List” from the Medinet Habu temple and its parallels with a list from Ramesses II. A middle way between “minimalist” and “maximalist” views of the extent of Ramesses III’s campaigns is explored. This results in some new identifications which throw light not only on the geography of Ramesses III’s campaigns but also his date.


  1. The Uluburun Shipwreck - a Dendrochronological Scandal [ 151K]. The Aegean Dendrochronology Project has asserted that a tree-ring date from the ancient shipwreck off Uluburun vindicates the conventional chronology and refutes the case argued in Centuries of Darkness for a major lowering of the Late Bronze Age. Further investigation has shown that this "tree-ring date" is not all it has been claimed to be.

  2. The Francis and Vickers’ Chronology: A Bibliography [ 102K]. As a research tool for those studying the debate over the dating of Greek Archaic archaeology, we have prepared a bibliography of articles both for and against the chronology of Francis and Vickers.

  3. Radiocarbon and the Eruption of Thera: Archiving and updating an unpublished letter to the journal Science [ 102K]. Has radiocarbon dating and wiggle-matching now dated the Minoan eruption of Thera to the late 17th century BC? As we argued in a letter rejected by the journal Science in 2006, now supported by much recent research, the answer is no.

  4. Solomon and Shishak BICANE Colloquium 2011 [ 4M]. (PDF available online by kind permission of the editors).