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Centuries of Darkness
Reply to Mellaart

Letter, Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 12 (1992/3), p. 80.

Dear Sir,

Regarding James Mellaart's review of Centuries of Darkness in BAIAS 11 (1991-2), while it contains several constructive comments, we note that the key evidence which he adduces against our case comes from two unpublished texts: an Arzawan document referred to as the 'Beyköy Text', and a letter of Assurbanipal to 'Ardu, king of Arzawa'. The information claimed to be recorded in them we find little short of fantastic. For example, that Assurbanipal should have written a letter to the king of Lydia (=Arzawa!), listing the latter's 21 ancestors with regnal years and detailed synchronisms with Assyria, seems far-fetched, to say the least.

Your reviewer states that translations of these texts, by A. Goetze and E. I. Gordon respectively, are "in press", but fails to specify where. Since Goetze and Gordon died in the early 1970s, both these documents must have awaited publication for a remarkably long time. Further, we find it extraordinary that no cuneiform expert we have consulted has heard of such discoveries. It is with regret that we have to point out that crucial evidence of this kind must always be accessible by some means before it is used as a basis for passing judgement on someone's work. We hope that no ramifications will arise from Mellaart's "vital material for chronology" - such uncorroborated citations merely muddy the waters of scholarship.