This is a text that I wrote in 2009. After finishing the text I read more, for example the work of the SIS (Society for Interdisciplinary Studies) that publishes the "SIS-Review" and the "Chronology and Catastrophism Review" since 1975. This might have caused me to change my text for example in the last part. Yet I prefer to keep the text, in the way I wrote it in 2009. In 2011 I decided to translate the text in English and I want to thank members of the SIS who helped me with the translation. Henk Spaan, The Netherlands.
A summary of the historical work of Immanuel Velikovsky
Part 1. Introduction
Immanuel Velikovsky was a man who caused much commotion in the scientific world, especially in the fifties, but also thereafter many called him a pseudo-scientist. He was born in 1895 in Vitebsk in Belarus, Russia. In 1921 he moved to Berlin, then to Palestine in 1924 and in 1939 he settled in New York. He had a psychoanalytic practice and at some point after 1940 he threw himself into historical research. He died in 1979.
The turmoil that he caused was in two different areas. The first was in the field of astronomy, because he developed the theory that the planets in our solar system in the far distant past did not follow the same orbit around the sun as they do now, but regularly, even in the recent past, some changed direction due to near-collision with one another and the exchange of planetary discharges. Secondly, he caused a stir among archaeologists and experts in Egyptian, biblical and Greek history, because he changed the usual dating of events and civilizations and arranged them in a different way. In this article I will discuss the historical work of Velikovsky to assess whether there is any truth in his view of ancient history. Basically I will confine myself to making a detailed summary of his historical work. This work was published in several parts between 1952 and 1978. Some parts of it were never published, but can be found in the Internet archive of his work. I started making this summary because I found Velikovsky's claims fascinating, and because I wanted to be able to make a better judgement of the value of his statements, especially since I could not find an extensive summary of this very complex and vast work anywhere.
Velikovsky began his research believing that the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt took place in a period of major natural disasters. The ten plagues that Moses announced were natural disasters and the fact that, after that, the Jews were able to flee the country, indicated that government power in Egypt had been overturned by these disasters. But when did disasters (say a very big earthquake) occur that might have caused the collapse of the Egyptian empire?
In Egyptian history there is the well-known collapse of the Middle Kingdom, which was followed by a dominance of the "Hyksos" for a few hundred years. Then came "The New Kingdom" with pharaohs like Tuthmosis, Amenhotep IV and Tutankhamun and Ramses, to mention just a few well-known names. The orthodox view is that the Exodus could not have coincided with the collapse of the Middle Kingdom, because it is assumed that the Middle Kingdom pharaohs lived much earlier than Moses and his successors.
During the period of the New Kingdom Velikovsky found no signs of a complete collapse, but in the Ipuwer-papyrus he found Egyptian texts that described a collapse of power. This text had similiarities with the description of the Exodus and the text had characteristics of texts from the Middle Kingdom, but if the Exodus took place at the end of the Middle Kingdom, then was the Exodus older than what was thought, or was the end of the Middle Kingdom later than thought? Soon, Velikovsky developed his hypothesis that the orthodox view of Egyptian history was about 600 years too old. In the course of 1940 Velikovsky began his research into ancient history of the Middle East and he worked on this until his death in 1979. He published his research in a series of works that he called "Ages in Chaos".
How did the dating of dynasties come about?
Libraries abound with books about Egyptian history and most texts use approximately the same dates. Can all the writers and scholars invariably make the same big mistake? In the first volume of Ages in Chaos Velikovsky claims that they did. In the fourth and final volume, entitled Peoples of the Sea, he elaborated on how this error could have arisen.
The earliest attempt to organise the sequence of pharaohs was made by the Egyptian Manetho in the third century BC. The division of dynasties that he made is still used nowadays. Of this classification a large part was never confirmed by later research and, of the dynasties that we came to know a lot about, (the 18th and 19th), we now know that Manethos list contained many inaccuracies. Of the existence of some dynasties, no evidence has been found. At the very least, Manetho's classification was not quite reliable.
Anyway, there was a list. If a king could somehow be dated accurately, an estimate of the others could be linked.
Such a dating was set up through the "great year", or the "Sothic year. Egypt had long appreciated a year of 360 days. At a certain moment in time Egypt began to use a year of 365 days, but that adjustment was not enough. In 238 BC, in the Canopus Decree", it was noticed that the year thus lacked a quarter of a day and that once every four years a leap day should be added to prevent the annual festival of the star Isis from going "astray through the seasons".
Censorinus wrote in 238 AD that the Egyptians had a great year that began with the rise of the dog star on the first of the month Thoth. Assuming that Sothis was the dog star (Sirius), he calculated that this great year must have lasted 1,461 years (4 times 365 + 1). He added that, one hundred years before he was writing, a new Sothic period had started. Thus, the previous Sothic period should have started in 1322 BC. In a manuscript, Theon of Alexandria spoke of the great era that began with pharaoh Menophres and he calculated that this was in the year 1321 BC. The question arose, who was Menophres?
A star or a planet?
The Canopus Decree mentions the star Isis and the Isis-festival and also speaks about Sothis (which is probably Sirius), and it was assumed that Isis and Sothis were one and the same star. Velikovsky, however, assumed that that was not the case. If Isis (Sothis) were a star, a Sothic period would last for 1,461 years, but if Isis was the planet Venus, then a Sothic period would actually be an Isis period. That period would be one of eight years, because in eight years the Earth orbits the Sun exactly eight times and Venus five times, with no noticeable difference. Every eight years Venus rises on the same fixed date. In the time of which we speak, the orbit of Venus was watched closely and perhaps with fear and trembling by people. The return of Venus in the sky (after orbiting behind the sun) was celebrated annually. For the Egyptians this was an important day, but for dating historical events, dynasties or kings it had no value whatsoever. There are no signs that the Egyptians used the Sothic period as a way to count years or eras. Moreover, it is it is hardly believable that Egyptians would have divided their history into a series of 1,461-year periods.
According to Velikovsky, the dating of Egyptian dynasties was not correct and thus the dating of virtually all other civilizations of that time in the Middle East and the Mediterranean was also incorrect. For example, if an image of Tuthmosis III is found in a layer in Knossus or in Mycenae, then the dating of these civilizations will be established according to Egyptian chronology.
In one way or another Ramses I was suspected to be 'Menophres'. Other pharaohs who had the name 'Ramses' were put in the 20th Dynasty, since Manetho had given no names to pharaohs of that dynasty (and it followed a dynasty of kings believed to be those of the 19th Dynasty). It was all guesswork, but a kind of guesswork that was generally considered acceptable, because the placement of the most important of these pharaohs, Ramses II who left us the largest monuments, was assumed to have been of the 12th to 13th century BC. Velikovsky, however, claimed that the Egyptian Manetho fought a kind of ideological struggle with the Greeks, who at that time ruled in Egypt. This struggle was about which civilization was the oldest. The Greeks wanted to be the oldest and so a number of Greek historians also placed the Trojan War in the twelfth century BC.
A Lifes Work
The fact that the dating of Egyptian history is uncertain does not necessarily mean that the dating is wrong. It takes more than that to put aside the current dating in favour of a significantly different date. We can say that the review of ancient history was the life work of Velikovsky, even though he was the most famous, most notorious and most mocked because of his book Worlds in collision (1950). This book defended the proposition that not long before the beginning of our era (between 1500 BC and 700 BC), there had been shifts in the orbits of the planets of our solar system, especially the two planets closest to the Earth, Mars and Venus. This work caused a stir, but even then Velikovsky regarded his work on the revision of history as his main task. There are four volumes in the series Ages in Chaos. They are, respectively: Ages in Chaos (1952); Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960); Peoples of the Sea (1977); and Ramses II and His Time (1978). He also wrote volumes that were never published, but they can be found in Velikovsky's archives on the Internet: The Assyrian Conquest and The Dark Age of Greece. In these last two, he worked on a review of the history of the Middle East from the period of the downfall of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom and the Exodus (in his view c.1500 BC) until the arrival of Alexander the Great in Egypt in 332 BC. Later in this paper I will try to summarize the periods covered by these two volumes.
Besides the above-mentioned works, Velikovsky's other published books were Earth in Upheaval (1955), about the physical impact of disasters on the Earth's surface and, after his death, Mankind in Amnesia (1982), which was about the psychological impact of disasters on mankind. Stargazers & Gravediggers (his 'Memoirs' to Worlds in Collision), was published in 1984.
Part 2. Ages in Chaos
As mentioned, Velikovsky began with the premise that the Jewish Exodus from Egypt took place at the time of the collapse of the Middle Kingdom as a result of severe natural disasters, darkness, drought and floods. The Jews were able to flee the country, and immediately after that the country was invaded by what the Egyptians sometimes called the Amu and sometimes the Hyksos (foreign rulers). Thus he shifted a number of events covering hundreds of years, since the collapse of the Middle Kingdom is conventionally and generally placed around 1800 BC and the Exodus around 1200 BC. Such shifting is only acceptable if all subsequent events also can be fitted together in a convincing manner.
To take a big step: In summaries of Egyptian history there is a gap for the period from roughly 1150 to 650 BC. Historians speak of a "period of decline" or "questionable data". Writing about a time when everywhere else the script was developing and more verifiable historical data was available, Egyptian chronologies are usually finished in a few pages, while article and books about the 18th and 19th Dynasty could fill entire libraries. This gap in history is the space that Velikovsky needs to make his theory plausible, but let us follow the events patiently.
The collapse of the Middle Kingdom was followed by the invasion of the Hyksos, who were in power in Egypt for several hundred years. The 13th to 17th Dynasties are those of the Hyksos monarchs. They came from the east, probably from the Arabian peninsula, and established their capital Auaris (Avaris - today's Tell ed-Daba) at the northeastern border of Egypt. From there the Hyksos ruled Egypt and a large part of Palestine and Syria. During the same period, which is described in the Bible (book of Judges), the Jewish people suffered under the domination of the Amalekites who were eventually defeated after several hundred years by the first king of Israel, Saul. Velikovsky stated that the Hyksos and the Amalekites were the same and that their rule lasted about 400 years.
The Queen of Sheba
After the period of the Hyksos/Amalekites, a period of prosperity began for both Israel and Egypt; in Israel under Kings Saul, David and Solomon and in Egypt under the pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty. A strong indication that these reigns might have existed simultaneously, (and not separated by a period of 600 years), is the biblical story of the visit to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. This queen is described as a rich and powerful ruler, but many have racked their brains about where she could have come from. She could have come from the south-western tip of the Arabian peninsula (in Yemen), from Ethiopia or Abyssinia. It wasnt supposed that she could have come from Egypt because no Egyptian queen was known to have lived during the time when Solomon was king (around 950 BC). A shift of Egyptian history, however, provides a suitable candidate: Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the fifth and only female pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. She had built a great temple at Deir el-Bahri, Thebes, and we can find a comprehensive report engraved on its walls of her visit to the country of Punt. Velikovsky gives many examples in which details of this description match the description in the Bible of the visit of the Queen of Sheba. He said that the name of the land of Punt might have the same word-stem as the name Phoenicia. Egyptologists have struggled to think where this country, Punt, could have been located. They searched in the nearest area that little was known about and ended up locating it in Yemen, Sudan, or Abyssinia.
The meeting between Solomon and Hatshepsut is more credible when we look at the events that followed her visit. Hatshepsut was received warmly in the land Punt, but after her death her successor, Tuthmosis III, began a military campaign against the land of Canaan where, in the prevailing history, Caananites lived, but not Israelites. He made great conquests and after the surrender of the capital Kadesh he returned to Egypt with rich booty. After the death of Solomon his kingdom was divided into two parts: the southern part, Judah, around the capital Jerusalem, and the northern part, Israel, around the city of Samaria. In the southern kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam was king. In the fifth year of his government the Egyptian king Shishak invaded the country. He conquered a number of cities and finally Rehoboam decided to surrender. The Bible states that Shishak took away the entire contents of the Temple of Solomon. On the wall of the temple at Thebes can be found a detailed list of the booty that Tuthmosis III took with him and this list has many similarities with the description in the Bible of the inventory of the Temple of Solomon. The idea that Jerusalem might have been Kadesh, and that maybe Shishak was the same as Tuthmosis, is therefore not too far-fetched. Historians did not draw this conclusion and only concluded that, apparently, the inhabitants of Canaan were a rich and prosperous nation long before the Israelites arrived. Before the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphic texts it was assumed that Canaan was inhabited by fairly primitive pastoral tribes.
In 1928 on the Mediterranean coast of northwestern Syria the remains of an ancient city were found and, in it, a library of clay tablets. In the same layer objects were found of Cypriot and Mycenaean origin and objects of Egypt from the 18th Dynasty. This led to the conclusion that this must have been the city Ugarit, that was already known from the el-Amarna letters found in Egypt (see below). Ugarit was a Phoenician city that had its heyday between 1500 and 1300 BC. This city was apparently destroyed very suddenly.
The findings in the library led to questions. There was a king Nikmed with a name that closely resembled the Ionian name Nicomedes, which was rather common in Greece. In orthodox terms that was impossible, because the Ionians did not arrive in Greece until hundreds of years later. The biggest discovery was that one of the languages in the library was written in an apparently alphabetic cuneiform script with only thirty different characters; a script that quickly proved to be related to the, then, known Hebrew writing, which was supposed to be 600 years younger. This presented a big problem: a rather well- developed script dated to about 1400 BC, belonging to the inhabitants of Canaan long before the Israelites had settled in Canaan. The conclusion was formed that the Canaanites were not a primitive culture after all, but were well-developed with a culture akin to that of the Israelites. The texts that were found contained many similiarities with texts of the Old Testament. Velikovsky provided instances of many similarities in words, customs, jewellery, medicine, weights and measures.
In the library of Ras Shamra texts were found in the Sumerian, Akkadian and Canaanite languages, but also in a fourth language called Khar. It was, apparently, the language of the local population, because explanatory remarks were generally in this language. That language had also been found in the el Amarna letters and it is assumed that it was the language of a nation who were called Hurrians (not Indo-Iranian, not Semitic). Hurrians had a well-developed culture and made extensive studies of languages and writing of neighbouring peoples.
If Hurrians are placed around 1400 BC it is a problem who they might have been, but a shift in the history of 600 years would solve the puzzle. They must have been the Carians, a people already known to historians of antiquity. They inhabited the islands and coasts in the eastern Mediterranean. Together with the Phoenicians, they were among the first to build a fleet and a navy and became a major trading power. When they were driven away from the eastern Mediterranean coast (by the Assyrians), they went west and founded, among other places, the city of Carthage.
Amenhotep II was the successor of Tuthmosis III. The death of Tuthmosis III was the signal for Palestine to rally against the Egyptian domination. Amenhotep II tried to restore Egyptian control. According to the memorials he made, he undertook three expeditions to the area of Palestine and Syria. In the first expedition he reached the city of Ugarit; in the second expedition he won a couple of minor cities, although gaining less booty than in the first; and the third campaign led to a battle at y-r-s-t after one day from the Egyptian border. According to his own report, Amenhotep returned victorious with a booty of some bows and an arrow, a horse and a wagon. In the several remaining decades of his reign, however, he did not return to Palestine and Velikovsky assumed that he actually suffered a major defeat.
If the revision of history is correct, Asa must have been king of Judah in the time of Amenhotep II. We read in the Bible that in his time the country first had ten years of rest. Then the Kushite Zerah attacked him. Asa went to fight him at Maresha in the valley Zephata and defeated the invaders. Velikovsky suspected that the Kushite Zerah or Zerah the Ethiopian must have been an Egyptian pharaoh and that Maresha from the Bible must have been y-r-s-t. Asa's was a great and important victory, that freed all of Palestine and the area north of it from Egyptian rule for a long time.
In the library of Ras Shamra there was found a text that may be a report of that same war. In the "Poem of Keret, Keret is king of Sidon (in modern Lebanon), threatened by an invading army of Terah in the Negev. Keret decided to put himself in danger and assist the defenders of the south. In the text the names Asher and Zebulun are mentioned, which are two northern tribes of Israel, "which went to fight together", although it is not unambiguously clear who went together with who. Terah is defeated and forced to flee. There are a number of details that may confirm the assimilation of Terah with Amenhotep. In the Poem of Keret the army of Terah was armed with curved swords (hepes) and daggers. In the tomb of Amenhotep II there is a picture with soldiers that wear bronze "hepes" and daggers. The Poem of Keret mentions the place Edom Serirot, where he meets Sapasites, while Amenhotep's report talks about the place Shamash Edom. Velikovsky says that the words Shamash and Sapas are frequently confused.
Such examples are not proof that Amenhotep was the same person as Zerah in the Bible, or Terah from the Poem of Keret, but it is not that unlikely and certainly there is no evidence that it is quite impossible for them to be the same person. That is already remarkable.
The El-Amarna letters
In 1887 in Egypt Akhet-Aton was uncovered, the capital of Egypt that was newly founded by Amenhotep IV, who later called himself Akhnaton. That city existed only a short while and was abandoned after the death of Akhnaton, yet during the excavation an extensive correspondence emerged of correspondence between Akhnaton and his predecessor Amenhotep III with princes and kings in Palestine, Syria and Cyprus. There were 360 letters that became known as the el-Amarna letters.
If these letters are from 1350 BC, it poses some difficult questions, but if they are from 870 BC, a few things might be easier to explain.
First, let us look at the events in the Bible. After Solomon's death his kingdom was torn in two: northern Israel and southern Judah. King Asa and Baasha "fought in all their days". When Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and Ahab king of Israel, Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, besieged Israel's capital Samaria. With the help of the "young men of the princes of the provinces" the siege was repulsed. One year later Ben-Hadad attacked again. Ahab defeated and imprisoned Ben-Hadad. However he let him go, hoping to come to an agreement with him. After that there was peace for three years, although there was a famine at the same time. Therefore Ahab proposed to Jehoshaphat that they join forces to take Ramoth in Gilead. There followed a battle with the Syrian king, ending in a defeat. In the battle Ahab was slain or injured.
After this defeat Mesha, king of Moab, (not far from Judah, east of the Dead Sea), together with the Ammonites, began a rebellion against the king of Judah. They wanted to attack Jerusalem, but they began to fight among themselves and were forced to retreat. Then Ben-Hadad besieged Samaria, but when he thought he heard the sound of chariots and horses he feared it was the king of the Hittites or of the Egyptians and fled. Ben-Hadad became sick and Hazael killed him, becoming his successor. Later, Hazael conquered a large part of Israel. This all happened in a prolonged period of drought and famine.
Sumer and Samaria
The el-Amarna letters could give a description of the situation outlined above. For a start, there are some names of towns and individuals that can be compared. 'Urusalim', we may assume, was Jerusalem (according to the Bible it had another name before the arrival of the Israelites). Nobody thought that 'Sumer' might have been Samaria, because that city was founded by the father of King Ahab, King Omri, who supposedly lived long after the Amarna letters were written. Velikovsky said that it really was Samaria and that 'Gubla', the city most mentioned after Sumer in the Amarna-letters, must have been the second city of Israel, Jezreel. 'Abdi-Ashirta' was the king of Damascus and must have been Ben-Hadad and so Abdi-Ashirta's son 'Aziru' might have been Hazael. Not all names are similar. 'Abdi-Hiba' was Jehoshaphat and 'Rib-Addi' was Ahab. However, Jehoshaphat had five captains, some of which we can recognize: In Adna from the Bible we recognise 'Addudani', of the Amarna letters. In Johozabad we can recognise ' Iazhibada', and the son of Zichri (Amaziah) might have been the 'son of Zuchru'. The military situation is also similar. The successor of Amenhotep II, Tuthmosis IV, had restored Egyptian supremacy in Palestine and Syria. After him came Amenhotep III, who was king at the time of the Amarna letters. Rib-Addi complained to the Pharaoh of repeated sieges by the king of Syria. At one point a siege was ended by the arrival of Egyptian archers, which might very well have been the "young men of the princes of the provinces". Another siege was repulsed, the king of Syria was imprisoned and later released. The letters reveal a great famine and the king of Sumur asked the Pharaoh for his permission to retrieve grain from 'Iarimuta', perhaps the same as Ramoth, in Gilead.
In the letters the king of Sumer constantly complained about "Sagaz-Mesh" which is generally translated as 'bandits', with 'mesh' presumably being a kind of plural form. Velikovsky however reads the name 'Mesha' and translates the term as the 'bandit Mesha', or: the biblical king of Moab, Mesha.
Then we read that Jerusalem is threatened. Both in the Bible and in the letters, the king of Syria planned an assault against the king of Sumer / Samaria and when, finally, the king of Syria became seriously ill, he is nevertheless assassinated and is succeeded by Aziru. Aziru turns out to be worse than Abdi-Ashirta and conquers nearly all the land of Sumer, just as Hazael conquered almost all of Israel.
The destruction of Ugarit
In 858 BC, Shalmaneser III was king of Assyria. He made several raids on the Phoenician coast and in northern Syria. If the shifting of Egyptian chronology is correct, then the records of the raids of Shalmaneser III must correspond to the Bible and the Amarna letters. In the letters we find a statement that Ugarit was largely destroyed and abandoned, while in the archives of Ugarit (Ras Shamra) we have found indications that the city was abandoned during the rule of the last king 'Nikmed' and that a king had ordered that all foreigners, Iaman (which are believed to be the Ionians), the 'Kharu' and the Cypriots, along with King Nikmed, should leave the city. In the annals of Shalmaneser III, who lived six hundred years later than the orthodox dating assigned to the time of Nikmed, we find a fragment with the statement that in his fourth year he conquered the cities of 'Nikdime' in Nikdiera and that he chased the inhabitants out to sea. Its not impossible that Nikmed and Nikdime are the same. Subsequently, Shalmaneser undertook expeditions to northern Syria almost annually, where he repeatedly ran into opposition led by Biridri. In the Amarna letters we read that 'Biridia', the commander of 'Makida' (Megiddo?) organised resistance against attacks from the king of Hatti. Hatti is generally considered as the country to the north and east of Syria, where at a certain time the Assyrians were in power. The letters state that the king of Hatti finally occupied a large part of northern Syria and the Mediterranean coast and forced the inhabitants to pay him tribute. In his annals, Shalmaneser said that he occupied the land Hatti to its furthest limits and that he brought Syria under his rule, giving Syria the same name that is used for it in the Amarna letters, 'Amuru' (the Bible has Aram).
The king of Egypt, Akhnaton, was never directly at war with the king of Hatti, but gradually lost influence and the rich gifts he sent to the king of Hatti appears to be more like a tribute than a proof of friendship. Evidence of the manner in which the king of Hatti received these gifts is also found in an Amarna letter. All in all, Velikovsky provides a great deal of evidence that the Amarna letters might not have been written between 1410 and 1370, but between 870 and 840 BC.
Part 3. Oedipus and Akhnaton
The starting point of Velikovskys researches into history was a book by Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, which dealt primarily with the Egyptian king Akhnaton. Velikovsky was a psychologist and he was soon struck by the similarities between Akhnaton and the legendary Oedipus. Thus he began his historical studies and, after the publication of other works, in 1959 his book Oedipus and Akhnaton was published, in which he defended the thesis that the Oedipus legend was based on historical events, i.e. the fate of Pharaoh Akhnaton. It was more or less a digression by Velikovsky as it contains no evidence of his other claims. However, the similarities are indeed striking and this amazing assertion should not be overlooked in a summary of the work of Velikovsky.
I will begin with a brief description of the Oedipus legend. The legend had an important place in early Greek literature. Already in Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus meets Jocasta, the mother of Oedipus, in the underworld. All known Greek writers of antiquity wrote about the story of Oedipus, or parts of it, which have become famous tragedies. There are many variations of the story, but in broad outline they are the same.
When the Theban king Laius and his wife Jocasta were expecting their first child, there was an oracle that foretold that the child would murder his father and marry his mother. On the birth of a boy, Laius gave the order to take him into the wilderness and leave him there to die, but a shepherd found the child and brought it to the palace of the king of Corinth. There the child grew up thinking himself to be a son of the king of Corinth.
When the boy became older, the oracle of Delphi predicted that he would murder his father and therefore Oedipus did not want to return to Corinth. During his wanderings he came across Laius who attacked him when he didnt move out of the way quickly enough. Subsequently, Oedipus killed Laius. Oedipus reached the gate of the city of Thebes, which was guarded by a winged sphinx. The Sphinx gave him a riddle and when Oedipus solved the riddle the Sphinx killed herself in anger by jumping off a cliff. The people of Thebes were happy with the death of the Sphinx and Oedipus married Jocasta. He had two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene.
Then there were disasters in the city and people went to the oracle to ask for the cause of these disasters. The answer was that someone in the city had killed his father and should be punished. Gradually the truth became clear to those involved. Jocasta hung herself and Oedipus blinded himself by stabbing his eyes and then went into exile.
His sons agreed to reign one after the other, changing every year, but after one year Eteocles refused to give up his place. Polyneices went to Argos and with help of seven heroes of Argos he tried, unsuccessfully, to conquer Thebes. During this war, Eteocles and Polyneices were both killed in a mutual fight. King Creon, the brother of Jocasta, became king. He gave Eteocles a royal funeral, but forbade anyone to touch the corpse of Polyneices. Antigone could not bear that her beloved brother lay there as food for birds and dogs and she tried to bury him, but she was caught and sentenced to a slow death, trapped in a tomb.
After one generation the 'Epigoni', the sons of the seven heroes who had helped Polyneices, returned to Thebes. They conquered the city and put an end to the family of King Laius. According to the Greek historians this was ten to fourteen years later and also only a decade before the start of the Trojan War.
When Velikovsky started his research into the similarities between Oedipus and Akhnaton his first objection was, of course, that it is hard to imagine that Greek writers would base their plays on stories of a king who lived 900 years earlier than they. In subsequent years he developed the theory that Egyptian history might be estimated nearly 600 years too old. That would make the link of Oedipus and Akhnaton less absurd than it first appeared.
Velikovsky provided a great number of indications that the legend could be based on the life of Akhnaton.
First, the city of Thebes. In Greece there is a city of Thebes and in Egypt there was also a city of that name, especially prominent during the 18th Dynasty. In the time of Akhnaton it was the capital of the country.
Then there was the Sphinx, a mythical creature that is not part of Greek mythology, but is eminently typical of Egyptian mythology. Further, a Sphinx with a female torso and with wings appeared for the first time in Egypt during the time of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy, the parents of Akhnaton.
Queen Tiy had three daughters who are often depicted in family portraits, but they also had a son, Amenhotep IV, who appeared in portraits only when he became king, after the death of Amenhotep III. We have no sign of his existence from before that time. The Amarna letters indicate that Amenhotep IV is indeed a son of Amenhotep III. The king of Mitanni wrote to Amenhotep IV about the time "that your father was king", as if Amenhotep IV did not know a lot about it. He also says: "You can ask your mother, Tiy, about it". These are indications that Amenhotep IV did not grow up at the court of his parents, but elsewhere.
After a few years, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhnaton.
A further clue is the name of Oedipus. Literally it means 'swollen feet', but it may very well be translated as 'swollen legs'. Images of Akhnaton show that he had a long neck and long back of the head. Another characteristic was a thick abdomen combined with a thin upper body. In a 1920 article, a French physician stated that Akhnaton seemed to have suffered from a disease called progressive lipodistrophy. This might explain why the Greeks called him Oedipus.
We can imagine that the disease was visible at a very early age and that his father and the counsellors of his father thought the boy would not live long and that it was better if he did not grow up at the court. The boy could have been raised at the court of family in Mitanni. Akhnaton often called himself "he who continued to live", an addition that has puzzled historians. Contrary to expectations, he remained alive and it is possible that he developed a grudge against his father, the counsellors of his father, and maybe the priests of Amon. That resentment could have played a role in the fact that Akhnaton, wherever he got the chance, made the name of his father unreadable and also, in his decision at some moment in the fifth year of his reign, to abolish the worship of Amun, to replace it with the worship of Aten and to build a new capital several hundred kilometers north of Thebes. After his arrival at Thebes, maybe his resentment led him to throw the Sphinx, off a rock, but that is speculation and is not enough to take the similarity between Oedipus and Akhnaton for granted.
Akhnaton and Tiy.
When Akhnaton built the new capital Akhet-Aten, he started to build tombs for his family and senior officials. The largest tomb under construction was for Ay, the man who would later become king after the death of the son of Akhnaton, Tutankhamun. Ay was mentioned with many honorary titles, including 'divine father', a kind of title that was earlier given to Huya, the father of Queen Tiy, mother of Akhnaton. If the roots of the Oedipus legend lie in the time of Akhnaton, it is possible that Creon in the legend plays the role of Ay. In the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in 1957, an article appeared that offered a fairly strong argument that Ay was the brother of Queen Tiy and was also the father of Nefertiti, the woman that Akhnaton married.
Akhnaton married Nefertiti and had a number of daughters. Sometimes two daughters are depicted, sometimes four and sometimes six.
In Akhet-Aten was a tomb for Huya, built in the twelfth year of the reign of Akhnaton. Huya was the superintendent of the house and the harem of Tiy. Tiy is called the king's mother and great royal wife. She was called royal wife because she was the wife of Amenhotep III, but it is puzzling why she would still maintain a harem after her husband had been dead for 12 years. In Huya's tomb, Nefertiti is depicted with two daughters, but Tiy is also depicted with royal decorations and a princess, Beketaten. The famous Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie, said that Beketaten was often called the seventh and favorite daughter of Akhnaton, but the fact that she was always depicted with Queen Tiy and was named princess, while the other daughters were consistently named daughters of Nefertiti, led Flinders Petrie to conclude that Beketaten was Tiys daughter. Because Tiye was Amenhotep III's wife, it was concluded that Beketaten was a daughter of Amenhotep III, but the fact that she was pictured as being so young caused confusion and historians tried to think of all sorts of explanations.
Tiy was described as the loving husband of the king (as if Amenhotep III was still alive). Velikovsky raised the question as to whether Akhnaton may not only have married Nefertiti, but also Tiy, his mother, and if he might also have been the father of Beketaten.
Mitanni family relationships
Oedipus married his mother and maybe Akhnaton did the same, the difference being that Oedipus did it without being aware of it, while Akhnaton must have known. There were family ties between the house of Amenhotep III and the royal family of Mitanni. Amenhotep's mother was a Mitanni princess, just as was one of his wives, and there are suspicions that one of the parents of Tiy was also of Mitanni descent. Therefore, Velikovsky suggests that Akhnaton grew up in the royal family of Mitanni and assumes that Mitanni may be the same as the Medes, who lived in the north-western part of Persia. Persian peoples had different ideas than other nations about sexual relations between parents and children or between siblings. In their religious beliefs, such contacts are encouraged and Greek and Roman writers of antiquity repeatedly reported in horror about such relations among the Persians. So, we can imagine Akhnaton being brought up where a marriage between mother and son or father and daughter was found not only permissible but even desirable, especially so in the royal family.
Akhnaton came to Thebes and married Nefertiti, but also his mother, initially in secret, but after his break with the priests of Amon in the fifth or sixth year of his reign, when he chose the worship of Aten, he decided to be "living in truth" and made his relationship with his mother public. That could be the significance of the regular addition to his name: "living in truth".
In the twelfth year of Akhnatons reign Nefertiti suddenly disappeared from the scene. Her name was removed from a number of monuments, while Akhnaton's name was left intact. We may assume that she had fallen into disfavour, but the cause is unknown. Tiy apparently won the battle of who was the most important wife of Akhnaton, because both kept appearing on images after his twelfth year. However, she didnt have long to enjoy her victory. King Akhnaton remained on the throne for five more years, although somewhere in those five years Tiy also disappeared from the scene. In the last days of his reign Akhnaton was frequently shown with his eldest son Smenhkare, who he appointed as co-ruler and who is king for about one year after the disappearance of Akhnaton.
During this period the power of the Egyptian empire eroded quickly. The Amarna letters that were found in the ruins of Akhet-Aten show that kings of Syria and Palestine desperately and vainly begged for help. Only a few decades earlier Egypt was the undisputed ruler in the area. In the eyes of the people of Egypt the trouble in the country was obviously connected with the sinfulness in which the king and his family lived. We can compare this with the verdict of the Delphic oracle that someone had killed his father and needed to be punished. Ay placed himself at the head of the opposition to Akhnaton. The fate of Akhnaton is not known. When, during the excavations at Akhet-Aten, a double wall was found with a room beyond, bedouins who lived in the neighbourhood said that behind the wall a doomed prince had been detained in the distant past. Velikovsky mentions this, but leaves it at that.
The resemblance between the fate of Oedipus and Akhnaton does not stop here. Two graves found in the early twentieth century in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, have shed new light on the matter. One was discovered in 1907 and, although the tomb was in dissaray, it had apparently never been robbed by grave robbers because in it were several golden objects. There were wooden panels covered with gold and bearing the name of Queen Tiy. There were also other object with her name on them. On the floor lay a coffin covered with gold and precious stones, but it was ruptured on one side. Initially it was thought that the tomb of Tiy had been found, but when the bones were subjected to closer examination, it turned out to be the body of a man. Because the coffin in which the mummy was found was clearly intended for Akhnaton (his name was scratched, but all his royal titles were still there), it was thought it was the mummy of Akhnaton. Confusing, however, was that the skull belonged to a person aged 26 years at most. Akhnaton was an adult when he became king and reigned almost 17 years as king. Under the feet of the mummy a love-poem was found, etched in gold leaf and apparently dedicated to the dead.
The second tomb was the tomb of Tutankhamun. There are no archaeological finds in history that have caused as much of a stir as the discovery, in 1922, of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
In the grave there was enormous wealth for a king who actually had a short life. After the examination of the mummy, Tutankhamun turned out to have been about eighteen years of age at the time of his death. The most surprising thing was that his skull showed a lot of resemblance to the way Akhnatons head was always depicted. The conclusion was that Tutankhamun had been a son of Akhnaton. Until then it had been assumed that he was Akhnaton's son-in-law, because he was married to Ankhesenpaaten, the third daughter of Nefertiti. So, Tutankhamun was married to his half sister.
On re-examination of the mummy from the first tomb, it was found that the deceased could have been only 23 years old, at the most. He must also have been a son of Akhnaton. This meant that it was Smenkhare, Akhnatons successor for a short period before Tutankhamun became king, also for a short period. The difference in the funerals of the two is remarkable and the legend of Oedipus can shed light on the reason for this.
When Oedipus abdicated from the throne, the eldest son, Polyneices (Smenkhare?), succeeded him. The two brothers agreed to change places each year and after one year Eteocles (Tutankhamun?) was king. After another year Polyneices came back, but at the advice of Creon (Ay), Eteocles refused to transfer power. Polyneices got help and then there was the war of the 'Seven against Thebes', in which both brothers died. After that Creon took power. One brother was given a royal funeral, while the other brother on the battlefield lay prey to birds and dogs.
In one of the burial chambers of Tutankhamun he is shown fighting a war against foreign invaders and that could very well be a depiction of the war for the succession of Akhnaton.
In the legend, Antigone buried her brother (and was punished for it). It seems that Smenkhare was hastily and improvisingly buried by someone who tried to embalm him as much as possible, burned some herbs and left a love poem for the deceased. This person had used four vases with a name that could not be read and with the image of someone who later proved to be Meritaten. Meritaten was the eldest daughter of Nefertiti. She was the half-sister of Smenkhare and his wife. Antigone mourned the death of her brother who might also have been her husband.
For punishment Creon left Antigone in a tomb to die. Velikovsky mentions the discovery of a small grave 90 metres away from the tomb of Smenkhare, two square metres wide and two metres deep. It attracted little attention from archaeologists. In that grave was some left-over food, plates, jugs and other items of little value, such as oil lamps, brooms and a few scarves that could be precisely dated to the last year of Tutankhamun. One of the scarves had a mark woven with the words 'Long live the good king Nofer'. Nofer was the name Smenkhare assumed when Nefertiti disappeared from the scene. Velikovsky stops there and says that although there is no evidence, this pit could be where Antigone died. Ay remained king for a few years and, if we are to believe the legend, after Ay the house of Akhnaton and the 18th Dynasty ended when, after ten years, the Epigoni returned and conquered Thebes.
All in all, the similarities between Oedipus and Akhnaton are remarkable, and not only because of the name of Thebes, the thick legs and the Sphinx. Both grew up elsewhere and became king after the death of their father. They married their mother and had a child from her and both were murderers of their father (Oedipus literally and Akhnaton by mutilating parts of his father's name.) There was a curse upon their kingdom and after their voluntary or forced resignation, there was conflict between the two sons that followed him. Both sons died about the same time. An uncle took power and gave one son a royal funeral and the other nothing.
Of course, the events at the court in Egypt, which at that time was the most powerful empire in the entire Middle East, made a big impression in the world. Certainly, if we assume that all of this happened not in 1340, but in 800 BC, it is hardly surprising that the events were retold in all parts of the classical world. The fate of Michael Jackson and the sex scandals of Bill Clinton and the OJ Simpson murder case combined in one person, may be compared with what had happened in Egypt. We in our time hear about it through radio and television. The classical world was just developing the art of writing and the early Greek writers were happy to have such a fascinating subject to write about.
Part 4. The Assyrian conquest
In Ages in Chaos Velikovsky shifted the end of the 18th Dynasty from about 1300 to 850 BC. Akhnaton was a contemporary of King Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem and of Ahab of Samaria. After the end of the reign of Akhnaton the 18th Dynasty fairly soon came to an end. Egypt was weakened for some time. According to the prevailing view of history, it was Horemheb who succeeded Ay at the end of the 18th Dynasty. Traces of a connection between the rulers at the end of the 18th Dynasty and Horemheb have not been found and we will see that Velikovsky gives Horemheb a different place in history. The section on the Assyrian conquest was not published, but can be found in the Internet archive of Velikovsky's work.
The Libyan dynasty
According to the legend of Oedipus, the Epigoni returned and conquered Thebes. That was the beginning of the Libyan dynasty in which Greek colonists played a part. They had settled on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. The Libyan dynasty is known as the 22nd Dynasty, in which we find names like Shoshenk and Osorkon. According to the Egyptian historian Manetho, Libyan domination lasted 120 years and was followed in the year 712 BC by about 50 years of Ethiopian rule.
Moving the 22nd dynasty to a place immediately after the 18th Dynasty is a rather drastic intervention in Egyptian history. If the 18th Dynasty is pushed forward about 540 years and if the Libyan dynasty (120 years) and the Ethiopian dynasty (50 years) are then inserted, the 19th Dynasty (that of Seti I and Ramses II), will be shifted 710 years.
This is a possibility, because on the one hand there seems to be a pretty big difference between language and culture of the 18th and the 19th Dynasties (which is a problem for historians), but on the other hand there are several striking similarities between cultural expressions from the 18th Dynasty and the Libyan dynasty.
The differences between the 18th and 19th Dynasties can be seen in the much less sophisticated techniques that were used during the 19th Dynasty in art and architecture and also in the fact that the written characters had changed and many new words were introduced that are obviously borrowed from other languages. These differences were much bigger than one would expect for a period of perhaps twenty years.
The similarities between the 18th and the 22nd Dynasties can be seen through the confusion that often arose about whether archaeological remains should be dated from the time of the 18th Dynasty or the Libyan Dynasty, 600 years later. One example is a memorial text found near the Sphinx of Gizeh, initially assigned to the 22nd Dynasty by the finder, but later another expert declared that it belonged to the time of Tuthmosis III, because the language and the characters were too much like those of the 18th Dynasty. There are also images that were originally assigned to the 18th Dynasty, which were later "without any doubt" decided must belong to the 22nd Dynasty.
And so, after the 18th Dynasty, came the Libyan and Ethiopian dynasties, that were more-or-less correctly placed by historians. These two dynasties ruled during the time when the power of the Assyrian kingdom was growing, between 850 and 700 BC
The downfall of Samaria
To unravel further developments we need to make a jump to history as related in the Bible and in the annals of Assyrian kings. After the decline of Egyptian power, Palestine remained in a state of disquiet. Hazael, king of Syria was initially the strongest power and conquered a large part of Israel. The kings of Israel tried to make an alliance with Assyria against Damascus. In 798 BC Joash was king of Israel and during his reign and that of his successor, Jeroboam II, the king of Syria is pursued and Israel even conquers the capital of Judah, Jerusalem.
In the year 747 BC the entire area was affected by natural disasters and then Tiglath-pileser III became king of Assyria. With him begins the rise of the Assyrian empire. Tiglath-pileser conquered parts of Israel and demanded great tribute. Israel tried to evade this tribute in collaboration with the king of Syria. When the king of Israel tried to strengthen his position by attacking Jerusalem, Ahaz, king of Judah, askedTiglath-pileser for support. Tiglath-pileser invaded Israel again and once more demanded a huge tribute. In turn, in 726 BC, Hosea, the new king of Israel, tried to seek support from the Egyptian king 'So'.
Who was king So that is mentioned in the Bible? Velikovsky says that at this time the Libyan dynasty ruled in Egypt and that it is logical that one of the Shosenk's was this king So. Conventional historians have identified Shosenk as the biblical Shishak, the man who plundered the temple of Solomon in about 920 BC. To make this possible these historians needed to assume that the Libyan dynasty came to power almost 100 years earlier.
(As a reminder, Velikovsky said that Shishak was the same as Thutmose III and that Thutmose III plundered the Temple of Solomon and did not plunder the riches of Canaan before the Jewish people arrived there).
The Egyptian steles seem to confirm this: Thutmose mentions the payment of tributes by cities, particularly in southern Judea, while the steles of Shosenk speak of payments made by cities in northern Israel, which corresponds with the biblical account that Israel is seeking help from So.
The prophet Isaiah criticised king Hosea sharply when he sought help from the Egyptians. The help did not come and instead the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V was angry because Israel had stopped payment to him. Shalmaneser began a siege of Samaria. His successor Sargon II conquered the city after three years and drove the entire population of Israel away into exile in 722 BC. The people of Israel never returned and disappeared into history. Sargon 'filled' the land and the cities of Israel with people who had been deported from elsewhere.
Assyria conquers Egypt
The power of Assyria was growing and the Assyrian annals report the payment of a tribute by the king of Egypt. Some time later they reported that power in Egypt had been seized by the king of Ethiopia who lived far away. It is the beginning of the Ethiopian dynasty in Egypt which ruled for fifty years and which, as we shall see, was several times interrupted by Assyrian campaigns.
The successor of Sargon was Sennacherib, who continued the conquests of his predecessor. He captured the coastal areas of Palestine and fought a battle with an Egyptian / Ethiopian army at Eltekeh. He also besieged Jerusalem, but was finally satisfied with payment of a huge penalty. At this point the question arises whether Sennacherib conquered Egypt too. Jewish historians report a conquest of Egypt and Herodotus mentions that Sennacherib invaded Egypt with a large army during the reign of Sethos. Modern historians say that Herodotus must be mistaken because Sethos (Seti) was one of the most important kings of the 19th dynasty, who lived around 1280 BC. Sennacherib conquered Egypt in the beginning of his reign about 701 BC. He replaced the last of the Libyan Dynasty, King So, by someone who was sympathetic to him.
There is an Egyptian king who is not easy to place in history. It is not clear who his parents were and how he became king. His name was Horemheb and he is usually placed in the transition period between the 18th and 19th Dynasties. On his tomb he bears all the signs that normally only the kings of Egypt bore and he is named something like the head of state and commander of the army, but at the same time we read that he was chosen by the king and a delegate of the king. He is also depicted in a reverential attitude toward a greater King, whose image was removed in a later period. Who was the person who appointed Horemheb as king or head of state? It seems that this greater king is not Egyptian (there is an interpreter represented at the meeting), and the text states that he was the boss of Syria and that his conquests were accompanied by putting complete towns to fire and displacing entire populations from one place to another. These are characteristics of Assyrian domination and it seems that the Assyrian king Sennacherib appointed Horemheb as commander in chief. Horemheb was later crowned king on the day he married Mutnodjme, someone who, according to the text on a statue, had royal status herself. She was probably the daughter of Sennacherib and in this way Horemheb could obtain proper royal status. Horemheb was in power at the end of the Libyan Dynasty, when Egypt could offer no resistance against the growing power of Assyria.
An army of field-mice
According to Velikovsky, Sennacherib put Horemheb on the throne in Egypt at the end of the Libyan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ethiopian Dynasty. Before that, Horemheb had fought, together with the Ethiopian king Tirhaka, against the Assyrians, but after the defeat at Eltekeh he changed sides and came into conflict with Tirhaka. Tirhakah retreated to the south, but returned several years later and defeated Horemheb, putting Sethos on the throne. Sennacherib organized a second campaign toward Palestine and Egypt, a campaign that ended in a great defeat under miraculous circumstances.
In the Bible we read that Sennacherib went to war against Jerusalem (and Egypt) and then: "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses".
The king of Jerusalem, Hezekiah, asked the prophet Isaiah for advice prior to the attack. Isaiah assured him that everything would be okay, but Hezekiah was in doubt and asked how he could know. Isaiah said that the Lord would give a sign, when the shadow of the sun would go ten degrees backward: "Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down".
Herodotus mentioned something similar: Sethos in desperation went to the temple for advice when the Assyrian king 'Sanacharibos' was advancing close by. The oracle reassured him and said he could go forward with an army of craftsmen and shopkeepers. "As the two armies lay there opposite one another, there came in the night a multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields. Next morning they commenced their fight, and great multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves".
Curiously, Herodotus mentions in the very next paragraph that Egyptian priests told him that four times in the past the sun had not risen in its ordinary place on the horizon.
Velikovsky assumes that the combination of a defeat of Sennacherib and a changing position of the sun, both in the Bible and in Herodotus, is no accident. In the year 687 BC major natural disasters again took place and destroyed the army of Sennacherib, at the same time driving entire populations away from their homes. The Cimmerians, for example, from the Black Sea area (Crimea), began a migration to the south of the Caucasus, followed by the Scythians who came from the land near the Caspian Sea. In Worlds in Collision Velikovsky discusses these events more fully.
Nineteenth and twenty-sixth dynasty
Sennacherib was unable to organize new campaigns after this. A few years later, Esarhaddon succeeded him and began to make new conquests. In his tenth year he marched to Ishupri, where he battled against Tirhakah and drove Tirhakah back to the south. Esarhaddon mentioned in his annals that he conquered Egypt, appointed new governors around the country and imposed heavy tributes.
Three years later Esarhaddon died and Tirhakah took the chance to return to Egypt. Ashurbanipal was the next Assyrian king and in in 677 BC he drove Tirhakah from Egypt and appointed Necho I as king. Tirhakah died and his successor Tanutamun returned to Egypt and, according to Herodotus, killed Necho. Ashurbanipal undertook a second expedition to Egypt and definitively chased the Ethiopians out of Egypt. That was the end of fifty years of the Ethiopian Dynasty, which is usually called the 25th Dynasty.
After this dynasty came the 26th Dynasty, which according to Velikovsky is the same as the 19th Dynasty. The first ruler of this dynasty, Ramses I, was the same as Necho I, both of whom ruled for only a short while. In his second campaign Ashurbanipal appointed new governors and one of them quickly took over power to himself with the help of Greek and Lydian mercenaries. Herodotus called him Psammeticus. He is the first one to give permission to Greeks, or people from the north, to settle on Egyptian territory, particularly the coastal areas that the Egyptians had always avoided. If it is true that the 19th Dynasty is the same as the 26th Dynasty, then Psammeticus was the same as Seti the Great, the son of Ramses I. Seti the Great (who conventionally lived in the 13th century BC) is known to have used mercenaries from the north which he called Sherdana, that is, men from Sardis, the capital of Lydia (south-western Asia Minor).
The downfall of Assyria
Meanwhile, Ashurbanipal was increasingly surrounded by enemies, the most important being his own brother, who became king of Babylon after the death of Esarhaddon. Ashurbanipal was at war with the Medes, the Chaldeans, the Babylonians and Syrians. Seti I, whose father Ramses I came to power with Assyrian help, sided with Assyria and marched several times towards Palestine.
In his annals Seti wrote that he defeated the men of Menate. Menate could well be Manasseh, who was king of Judea for 55 years. The Bible doesn't mention an invasion of Egyptian troops, but that may be explained by the fact that Manasseh chose Egypt's side and didn't think of it as an invasion by Egypt when the Egyptians came. The fact that he called his son Amon may indicate that he sympathised with Egypt.
Seti the Great went to the north where there was great disorder, because the Assyrians had removed the entire Israeli population a few decades earlier. Seti conquered Beth Shan situated between Israel and Syria and he put a memorial stele there that was discovered in the 19th century. Then he engaged in a war with the Hittites, residents of the area north of Syria, which in turn may well be the same as the Chaldeans, who lived in the same area 700 years later.
Seti the Great managed to make Egypt a major power again, but his ally, Assyria, was on the brink of collapse. When the Scythians chose the side of the insurgents, it was the end of the Assyrian empire. In 612 BC the capital Nineveh was destroyed.
Part 5. The dark ages in Greece
The history of ancient Greece is usually divided into several periods. The Archaic period is the time of ancient Hellas, that ran until about 1200 BC and ended shortly after the Trojan War. During this period Mycenae was the centre. Then followed a period of decline, the Greek Middle Ages, also called Dark Ages, when the country was invaded by primitive Dorians. The Greek heyday that we call Classical Greece, when Athens was the main centre, lasted from about 700 to 323 BC. Finally there is the Hellenistic period that begins with the conquests of Alexander the Great throughout the Middle East. In the Hellenistic period, Alexandria was the centre and the period lasted until the Roman conquest of Egypt.
The part of Velikovsky's work dealing with "the dark ages of Greece" never appeared in print. Velikovsky worked on it in the last years of his life, but could not finish it. It is published in the Internet archive of his work entitled "The Dark Age of Greece".
The Mycenaean civilization is closely linked to the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. During excavations in Mycenae, many objects from the 18th Dynasty were found and vice versa in Akhet-Aten, the city that Akhnaton had built, much Mycenaean pottery was found. This means that there must have been a period of more than 500 years between Archaic Greece that existed until 1200 BC and Classical Greece that began around 700 BC. This period is called a dark age because we know little or nothing about it and little remains of this period are found. Understanding those 500 years is difficult, because 500 years of human activity, however primitive, must have left traces above the remains of Mycenaean civilization and there must have been rulers, however barbaric, about whom people wrote of with fear or surprise. However, those traces are not there and neither are the stories. Of the Greek Middle Ages we know of no people like Vikings or Charlemagne of AD history.
Yet, if we move the Mycenaean civilization to 500 years later, it will be closer in line with the rise of Classical Greece and we are then more in line with what, for example, Herodotus and other Greek historians thought about their past. Furthermore, many problems become easier. For example, the famous riddle: how could Homer write a detailed report of the Trojan War if the war took place more than 500 years before Homer wrote his work?
The Trojan War
The Iliad is the story of the Trojan war that, in the orthodox view, took place around 1200 BC. It should have been in that time because in excavations at Troy and Mycenae many objects of Egyptian kings from this period were found. Homer, however, must have written his work shortly before or shortly after 700 BC, since the Iliad contains details that somebody who lived before 750 BC could not have known. Homerus must have introduced these details into an older text because the Iliad also contained details that a writer from 700 BC could not know. For example, in excavations in the palace of Nestor a cup was found that exactly matched the descriptions of Homer. There were scientists who tried to separate the passages containing old elements from passages with later elements, in order to find out if Homer was the real artist or the follower of a much older artist. Those efforts were fruitless. No wonder, said Velikovsky, since the dark ages do not exist and Homer lived not long after the Trojan War.
Velikovsky made an attempt to place the Trojan war in the political / military situation that existed around the year 700 BC in Greece and Asia Minor. The entire Middle East between 800 and 700 BC was shaken several times by natural disasters that destroyed cities and drove people from their homes and country. In this period the Trojan War took place. Homer speaks of "the people of King Priam" as opponents of the Greeks (Achaeans) in this war.
Troy and Phrygia
Homer mentions the Phrygians as allies of Priam with such regularity that Velikovsky wondered whether "the people of Priam" were not the same as the Phrygians. Not much is known about the Phrygians. Herodotus said that they came from the Balkans to the west of modern Turkey and that their first king, Gordias, founded the capital Gordion. His son was Midas, who was king from 742 to 696 BC. In 687 BC Gordion was destroyed by invading Cimmerians who came from the north of the Caucasus. The fact that Homer mentions the Phrygians as allies of Priam is widely regarded as an anachronism, an insertion by Homer himself. In modern Turkey no traces of Phrygian civilization dating from before 800 BC were found. After the expulsion by the Cimmerians, the Phrygians came under the influence of the Lydians, who lived in the south-west of Turkey around the capital Sardis under king Gyges.
Another ally of Priam was Memnon, an Ethiopian king. This may indicate that the time of the Trojan war was the time of the Ethiopian dynasty that ruled Egypt between 712 and 663 BC.
If it is true that the Trojan War can be placed around 700 BC, then we can find an explanation for this war. Maybe the kings of ancient Hellas came to Troy to prevent the Phrygians from crossing the Hellespont towards mainland Greece, pushed forward by the Cimmerians.
The fact that the Phrygians are known to us only from the period 800-600 BC, but yet seem to take part in the Trojan War, could be complemented by similar examples. First, the Trojan hero Aeneas. According to the Roman historian Virgil, Aeneas wandered around after the fall of Troy and stayed for some time in Carthage and finally ended up in Lazio, where he participated in the founding of Rome. This is remarkable because Carthage is generally assumed to be founded in 814 BC, while Rome was founded in 753 BC. Second, in the Illiad, Nestor, king of Pylos, says that his father sent a four-horse chariot to participate in a horse-race in Elis. Since ancient times historians concluded that he spoke about the Olympic games that were held in Elis for the first time in 776 BC.
During excavations at Troy many different layers were found. The oldest strata contained traces of the Egyptian Old Kingdom and in the sixth layer were founds traces of the middle of the 18th Dynasty, about 1300 BC. In the sixth layer Troy was a well-built fortress, but it was apparently destroyed in an earthquake, not a war. It was concluded that layer seven was Homer's Troy. Remarkably, the excavator of the Phrygian capital of Gordion discovered that the architectural style and structure of the fortress of Gordion was very similar to architecture and construction of the sixth layer of Troy - Troy being dated to around 1300 BC, but Gordion having been built around 800 BC, or shortly thereafter.
The architecture of Mycenae, the capital of the besiegers of Troy, also showed similarities with buildings in Phrygia. The agreement between the Lion Gate in Mycenae and buildings in Phrygia were so great that a researcher in 1888 refused to suppose that hundreds of years could lay between those buildings. His arguments, however, conflicted with the chronology that Egyptologists had previously established for Egypt.
Conflicts among archaeologists
The conflicts over the dating of finds were sometimes very sharp. The most painful conflict was between two German researchers, Dorpfeld and Furtwängler. According to conventional wisdom the Mycenaean civilization perished and then came an invasion of the more primitive Dorians, who then introduced the typical Greek geometric shapes in art and artifacts. All his life Dorpfeld did research in Greece and he was convinced that the geometric shapes were often found simultaneously with the typical Mycenaean pottery. He maintained that the geometric style was essentially of the same age, or even older, than the Mycenaean style and should therefore be dated before1200 BC.
Furtwängler on the other hand, was an expert in pottery and potsherds. Based upon a big collection of pottery fragments and their gradual change through time, he concluded that the geometric pottery was closely aligned to the pottery of classic Greek times (the golden age of Athens and Sparta). Therefore, he was convinced that the geometric shapes were not developed before 900 BC. The two scientists were involved in a bitter fight and added insults to each other up until their death. They did not realise that both could be right if the accuracy of the Egyptian chronology was questioned. Archaeology showed that Furtwängler was right and the "wild theories" of Dorpfeld were rejected, even though it was difficult to deny his great achievements for the development of archaeology.
The same dilemma was visible during excavations in Crete. In Enkomi was a cemetery dating from the Minoan civilization. There were clearly many remains from the Mycenaean period and artifacts from the period of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton, but the pottery, porcelain, glass, ivory and bronze and golden objects were also very similar to Assyrian, Phoenician and Greek objects from the seventh and eighth centuries. Professor Murray, the leader of the study, said that the usual method of comparing sets of approximately similar objects, taking into account the normally expected gradual change over time, should lead to the conclusion that the Mycenaean civilization was not five hundred years older, but only dozens or maybe one hundred years older than the Phoenician or early Greek civilization from the sixth and seventh centuries BC. However, the Egyptologists pointed at the obvious similarities with similar finds in Egypt and that was the end of it. They assumed that the cemetery in Enkomi in a later period was used again and that apparently the excavators were unable to distinguish between older and newer graves. There was talk about "the scandal of Enkomi". Murray denied having been sloppy, but could not solve the puzzle of why the development of making pottery and working gold and bronze should have stopped completely for a period of five hundred years and then restarted again in the classic Greek period.
Everywhere in Greece and Crete arose the problem of great similarity between the Mycenaean and Hellenic civilization and of the absence of traces of a civilization, however primitive, of the period of five hundred years that lay between. There were traces of primitive civilization, but they were often more primitive than the Mycenaean civilization.
Another connection between Mycenae and the seventh and sixth centuries BC was found in the remains of the Etruscan civilisation in Italy. It is believed that the Etruscans settled in Italy in about 700 BC. The Etruscans built the domed tombs similar to the Mycenean tombs and the walls in Etruscan cities are similar to those of Mycenae, just like the vases that were present. Nobody could explain how style and working methods could have remained preserved over a period of five hundred years of 'darkness'.
During excavations in Crete the remains of Minoan clay tablets were found, written in two languages that initially could not be read and which were called Linear A and Linear B. Tablets with the same language and characters were subsequently found at Pylos, the city of the hero of the Trojan war Nestor, and in Mycenae. As long as this language had not been deciphered it was assumed that the Mycenaean / Minoan language was not Greek, because the Greek language was introduced only when the Dorians settled in Greece during the Greek middle-ages. Believing that the Greek middle-ages had not existed, in 1953 Velikovsky predicted that further research might show that Linear B was Greek in origin. In 1954 the Englishman Michael Ventris (who had worked in the war on deciphering secret military codes), succeeded in deciphering Linear B. It turned out to be a variation of the Greek language. When he started his work, Michael Ventris had asked experts what kind of language Linear-B might have been. Many possibilities were mentioned; Hittite, Sumerian and Basque for example, but among the experts no one suggested a possible link with the Greek language.
The discovery by Ventris was the biggest shock in Greek archaeology since the discovery of Troy. In the orthodox view it became clear that the names of the Greek gods were not invented by Homer, but were already known in Mycenae of the thirteenth century BC and also that the Mycenaeans were already writing in a kind of alphabet. Surprisingly the art of alphabetic writing was subsequently lost in Mycenae, only to return in classic Greece somewhere between 800 and 700 BC. Not only the names of the gods turned up in Linear-B, but also many personal and family names and their descriptions, the names of dozens of places and descriptions of their location, half of which had completely disappeared after the downfall of Mycenae. So, it was decided that Homer's Iliad was not invented by the poet Homer in about 700 BC, but had been conceived in detail in the Mycenaean period and must have been remembered by performing readers or artists during five hundred years of darkness.
The Greek historians all agreed that the Greek alphabet derived from the Hebrew / Phoenician alphabet and they say it was introduced by Cadmos, who came from Phoenicia and founded the city of Thebes in Greece several generations before the Trojan War. No examples of the Greek alphabet have been found that date from before 800 BC. It is yet another indication that the usual dating of the Trojan War could be wrong.
The earliest found Greek alphabets show similiarities with the Hebrew / Phoenician characters found on the famous Mesha stele from about 850 BC. In the chapter about the el Amarna letters we saw how and when the art of writing could have crossed to Greece. Shalmaneser III was king of Assyria in 858. He wrote in his annals that he conquered the city of Nikdime and drove the population out to sea. In the el- Amarna letters it was stated that Ugarit was destroyed completely and the excavations showed that Nikmed was its last king. Ugarit was a city where different ethnic groups lived together; for example, the Jaman (Ionians), who possibly fled to Greece and the Khar (Carians) that may have founded Carthage. Later, Nicodemos was a very common name in Greece. In the excavations at Ugarit (Ras Shamra) an extensive library was found of texts on clay tablets, together with dictionaries of several different languages. It is likely that the refugees of Ugarit went to Greece and took with them the art of writing, particularly the alphabet. It is at least a possibility that Cadmos and Nicodemos were the same person.
It looks like we have a large number or pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that, with a shift in the chronology of Egypt and of all cultures associated with it, suddenly and unexpectedly appear to fit together. Both Mycenae and Athens spoke a Greek language and had essentially the same culture, but both towns had their own script and the Mycenaean script disappeared as the city of Mycenae was destroyed.
Velikovsky concluded that the Greek dark ages did not exist and that the destruction of Mycenae occurred shortly, at most a few decades, before the start of the Classical Greek period. There is not a gap in time between the Archaic and Classical Greece, but in harsh reality, there was indeed a gap. This gap consisted of major natural disasters, probably around the year 687 BC. Troy and the Mycenaean civilization, but also the Minoan civilization on Crete, were swept away and the disasters left deep traces all over the Middle East and were probably felt globally. The march of the Assyrian troops toward Jerusalem and Egypt was halted by the same disasters as we have seen above. The massive destruction and the following pests and climate change drove the survivors of all peoples from their homes to find a safer place. Hence, the heroes of the Trojan War returned home through a general chaos and some of them were forced to make long detours (Odysseus and Aeneas).
Part 6. Ramses II and His Time
In 1978 Velikovsky published Ramses II and His Time. With this book he continued his research into the chronology of ancient history. He was aware that, when you shift the history of a number of countries up to six hundred years, it is not enough to simply compare a period of about one hundred years. You must prove that the shifting also fits throughout the rest of the time. If there is demonstrably no possible agreement, then the whole argument falls to pieces and the similarities between the Queen of Sheba and Hatshepsut must be a coincidence. In Ramses II and His Time Velikovsky deals with the period around 1250 BC (Egypt) and 600 BC (The Bible).
Necho and Nebuchadnezzar
Around 600 BC the Assyrian empire collapsed. From the south, Babylon conquered Nineveh and in the north the military power of the Chaldean Empire under King Nebuchadnezzar increased. Nebuchadnezzar developed great power and also became king of Babylon. For a long period his power in the region of Judea was balanced by the army of Pharaoh Necho II, who is mentioned in the Bible. The Greek historian Herodotus also mentioned Necho and called him Pharaoh Necos. He was the son and successor of Psammeticus I.
Nebuchadnezzar was powerful and finally conquered Jerusalem, but for a long time he feared Necho, with whom he eventually concluded some agreement (at the expense of the Jewish people). However, although Nebuchadnezzar made extensive reports of his exploits and conquests on buildings, in inscriptions and sculptures, his counterpart in Egypt left almost no trace. All we know today about Necho is derived from the Bible and Herodotus. There are traces of an Egyptian 'Nekau Wehembire', but so few that the person seems to have been of minor importance.
In 608 BC Necho went as far as the Euphrates and occupied the land of Judah and Syria, but after three years an invasion by Necho led to a battle that was won by Nebuchadnezzar. This battle took place, according to the Book of Jeremiah, near the Euphrates at Carchemish. In the following years the balance of power changed a several times. In 597 BC Nebuchadnezzar gave Zedekiah power in Jerusalem, but eight years later Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, against all warnings from the prophet Jeremiah. He did so hoping for help from Necho. Necho came with an army, but he did not battle and finally came to an agreement with the king of Chaldea / Babylon, in which he gave up his claim to Palestine in exchange for peace. This peace was at the expense of Jerusalem which, immediately after the agreement, was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar carried the people of Jerusalem away to Babylon. That was the beginning of the Babylonian exile which lasted for fifty years.
Necho left little trace in Egypt, but Ramses II left numerous traces. Pharaoh Ramses II ruled between about 1290 and 1220 BC according to the conventional view. He was one of the most ostentatious pharaohs and left a large number of buildings and monuments. There are many reports of his campaigns. We will try to see if, maybe, he and Necho may have been the same. Again there are similarities between the history of ancient Egypt and the biblical story of 600 years later. Ramses said that he marched to Ugarit in his second year and once again in his fifth year. He battled near the city of Kadesh, where he was defeated by the king of Hatti, also called the king of Kheta. Historians have long wondered where Kadesh was located and they concluded that it was a city on the Orontes, a river near the Mediterranean coast in Syria where two river arms meet. Velikovsky considered this to be unlikely, because Ramses II gave the description of a town surrounded on four sides by water and because in the area near the Orontes no remains are found of a walled city. Ramses IIs description of the city and of the progress of the battle could, however, match with the location of Carchemish in a loop in the River Euphrates.
After his defeat Ramses II waited for four years before marching again to Judea in his ninth year, where he raised memorials of his presence. On one wall of the great temple at Karnak is the text of a peace treaty that Ramses II finally, nineteen years after his first campaign, concluded with the king of Kheta. From the treaty, it is clear that Palestine and Syria are no longer part of Egypt, the boundaries are defined and agreements on the exchange and humane treatment of prisoners were made. The sequence of events in the time of Ramses II and that of Pharaoh Necho exactly match.
Ramses II and Hattusilis
Who was the opponent of Ramses II? In the highlands, in what is now Turkey, characters had been found of an unknown language. The same characters were later found in northern Syria, near the Euphrates, and in Babylon. Around 1870, the theory was developed that 'Kheta' from the treaty of Ramses II were the Hittites that were mentioned now and then in the Old Testament (for example, those mentioned earlier in this summary dealing with the siege of Samaria by the Syrian king Ben-Hadad.)
It was thought that, maybe, the language was written by these Hittites and soon there was talk about the forgotten empire of the Hittites. Thutmose III had been the first to mention the Hatti in his annals and Ramses II referred to Hatti regularly, but around 1200 BC (orthodox) Ramses III wrote that Hatti was crushed. Assyrian annals speak of the Hatti until the year 717 BC, when an Assyrian king overran Hatti.
Any uncertainty about the existence of the Hittites disappeared in 1906 when the ruins of Boghazkoi were found in central Turkey with a large quantity of tablets with texts. One of these texts was a Babylonian (Akkadian) version of the treaty that Ramses II had written on the walls of the temple at Karnak. At Karnak, the partner of Ramses was called the "king of Kheta". In the Babylonion cuneiform version his name was Hattusilis. That appeared to make the dating of the tablets clear to everyone, even though it was strange that the findings seemed to have a close relationship with Assyrian material of several hundred years later and in some ways seemed more developed than the Assyrian texts. Also in Boghazkoi a text had been found of an autobiography of Hattusilis, and again we find a number of similarities between the autobiography of Hattusilis and what we know about the life of Nebuchadnezzar. Anyway there are no insurmountable contradictions.
According to Velikovsky the forgotten kingdom of the Hittites was no different than the Chaldean dynasty that developed 550 years later, immediately after the collapse of the Assyrian empire. This Chaldean dynasty had its centre in the middle and east of what is now Turkey. Nebuchadnezzar was the Hittite king Hattusilis who conquered large areas and who also became king of Babylon. After his death, the Chaldean dynasty soon fell apart. In 546 BC Croesus, king of the Lydians (west of modern Turkey), destroyed the city Pteria, a city that was located exactly at the spot where the Hittite Empire's capital Hattusas (at Boghazkoi) had been located. In the same year Lydia, in turn, was invaded by the Persian king Cyrus. This is again consistent with the fact that Ramses III, dated to 1200 BC, said that Hatti was crushed. That was about fifty years after Nebuchadnezzar came to power. The Chaldean people and the Chaldean culture continued to exist for a long time, until the beginning of our era, but no longer as a world power.
It is interesting to look at the theories about the expressions of Hittite art and culture that have been found. Around 1834 the discovery was announced of ruins in Boghazkoi and of rock sculptures in the neighborhood. The first theories were that they were the remains of Lydians (from the southwest of Turkey), or Phrygians, or Persians, or Medes, or the Lydian King Croesus and the Persian king Cyrus. In any case, all of them date to a period somewhere between 800 and 600 BC. The palace ruins in Boghazkoi showed strong resemblance to a palace in Nineveh, built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 700 BC.
By 1870 Egypt hieroglyphics could be read and it became clear that the Hittite texts and pictures came from the opponents of Ramses II and that, therefore, the age of Hittite culture had to be increased by six to seven hundred years. Some experts maintained that the style of the images, motifs and details clearly came from a time between the tenth and sixth centuries BC, but when, in 1906, the archives of the kings of Kheta were found, with the copy of the treaty between Ramses II and Hattusilis, all objections to the theory of a Hittite empire were silenced. The culture of Boghazkoi was from the time of Ramses II and nobody doubted that it was from about 1250 BC.
Nobody came to the conclusion that Ramses and Hattusilis were equally much later, even though it would have taken away a lot of inconsistencies and resolved arguments between historians. Velikovsky gives many examples of these inconsistencies. One of them can be found in the excavations at Gordion in a town 130 km west of Boghazkoi. Gordion was the capital of the Phrygian kingdom, the kingdom of King Gordias and later of King Midas. It existed from 800 to about 690 BC, when Cimmerians conquered the city. Excavations revealed that the remains of Gordion were covered by a three metres thick layer of clay in which almost exclusive Hittite remains were found. There was a theory that, apparently, the Persians who settled there later, transported clay from elsewhere to build a new city. This would have required moving millions of tons of clay over a considerable distance, let alone the fact that there are no traces whatsoever of the Chaldean empire of Nebuchadnezzar that must have been there between the Phrygian kingdom and the arrival of the Persians!
Moreover, the prominent Turkish archeologist, Ekrem Akurgal, said that despite diligent research in the last century, in the Turkish highlands no traces were found of a civilization that can be assigned to the years between 1200 and 750 BC. This period is shrouded in darkness, a parallel of the "dark ages" in Greek history after the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization.
Older and younger objects
The anomalies are numerous and are always caused by the fact that objects of an old period (for example, from 1200 BC in Egypt or in Mycenae), were found together with items from 600 years later, for instance, in the tomb of the Phoenician king Ahiram in Byblos. There were artifacts from the time of Ramses II and pottery from Mycenae together with Cypriot vases from the seventh century BC. The experts could not agree how old the grave really was. Some thought that thieves had taken older objects out of an ancient tomb and put newer objects in their place and others suggested that the grave was younger and intruders had used the grave to store objects of an earlier origin. The confusion increased because a text, written with Hebrew characters, mentioned that the tomb was of king Ahiram of Gwal (Byblos), with the warning not to violate the tomb. Some thought this was proof that the Hebrew alphabetic script was much older than had previously been assumed.
So what about Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Necho? In the Bible Jeremiah and Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would conquer the land of Egypt, but historians maintain that it is not known whether Nebuchadnezzar ever invaded Egypt. A stele of Ramses II at Karnak tells how, in his 34th year, the king of Hatti came to Egypt to give his daughter in marriage to Ramses, while of Nebuchadnezzar a damaged piece of text was preserved telling that in his 37th year he was in Egypt. What he did there is not clear from the text. It would seem that Nebuchadnezzar and Ramses II (Necho II) continued to maintain friendly relations and that Ramses II married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. This friendship lasted until the Chaldean / Hittite dynasty ended.
Part 7. The Sea Peoples
The successor of Ramses II was Merneptah (full name Merneptah - Hotephirmaat) and Necho's successor was called Hophra in the Bible and Apries by Herodotus. Inscriptions of Merneptah were found with a report of a campaign against invaders from Libya. The text says that Merneptah thwarted the invasion of the Libyan king who, with the help of a seafaring people, had succeded in penetrating the country almost as far as Memphis. When in the 19th century Egyptian texts could be translated, suddenly these "Sea Peoples", appeared as almost as big a surprise as the appearance of the Hittites. Merneptah mentions a successful campaign, but does not mention how the conflict with the Libyan king evolved. Perhaps Herodotus can shed light on the matter if we assume that Merneptah was Apries and the Sea Peoples were Sardinians, Siciliërs, Etruscans and Lycians. Herodotus told how, around 600 BC, the Greeks settled en masse on the coast of Libya. Apries formed a large army and went to Cyrene, a town on the Libyan coast, but was beaten by the Greeks and Cyrenians "because the Egyptians had no knowledge of Greeks and despised their enemy". Herodotus goes on to say how the Egyptian army started to mutiny and how Apries sent Amasis to restore order. Amasis, however, joined the mutineers and went up to Memphis to take over power. Apries was killed.
Amasis was an admirer of the Greeks and allowed them to settle on the Mediterranean coast. The swampy area had always been neglected in ancient Egypt. After the death of Amasis Egypt was overrun by Cambyses, the son of the Persian king Cyrus.
In the conventional historiography, the period around 1200 BC was a turbulent period. In Egypt Ramses III (of the 20th Dynasty) was king when the country risked being overrun by invaders from the north. It was thought that during this time the Trojan War was fought, that there was a sudden end to the Mycenaean civilization in Greece, that the great empire of the Hittites, plus some smaller kingdoms, were wiped off the map, and supposed that somewhere around this time the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt to the land of Canaan took place.
The following centuries, until about 750 BC, are often called dark ages - not dark because of evidence of decline and economic downfall, but more because there are virtually no traces of governments, architecture or art from this period. In Greece there are such dark ages, in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) no traces of civilization were found, and in Egyptian history we speak about "a period of confusion".
Ramses III and the Pereset
Ramses III fought against the invaders from the north, which he called the Sea Peoples. He waged war with the Sea Peoples and the "Pereset". It is believed that the Philistines were the Pereset, because Pereset may have meant the same as Peleset, but if Ramses III was threatened by the Philistines, we get a strange construction: the Philistines threatening Egypt are at the same time threatened from behind by the then nomadic Israelites and eventually pushed back by them. It's possible, but it is at least curious. To clarify this, we must figure out what is known about Ramses III.
If there can be any truth in Velikovsky's theory that Egyptian history should be shifted hundreds of years forward the following is a test. There is no doubt that Ramses III came later than Ramses II. If Ramses II (Necho II) was king around 600 BC, the 19th Dynasty being the same as the 26th Dynasty, of which Amasis was the last major pharaoh in 526 BC, where can we put Ramses III? In 525 BC Persian rule began in Egypt, when Cambyses II invaded Egypt. Is this reconcilable?
Firstly, Velikovsky points at findings in an excavation of a palace of Ramses III thirty kilometres north-east of Cairo. This excavation was a riddle for archaeologists. They found tiles with beautiful designs and with the name of Ramses III written in hieroglyphs. On the back of the tiles were unmistakable Greek characters and they were not primitive ones. The motifs on the front of the tiles were strongly reminiscent of Persian art. There was confusion about the date of these finds; were they from the time of Ramses III, or from a period when Hellenic influence was growing stronger.
Ramses III left us extensive reports of his activities, for example, on the temple where he was buried, near Thebes, but also on papyrus. In these texts we learn that Ramses III brought the country back to prosperity and peace after a long period of foreign domination in which Egypt didn't have a king. The leader of the foreign rulers was called Arsa. In conventional history the 20th Dynasty (of Ramses III) follows the 19th dynasty and there is not a long period of foreign domination between. That was just another mystery. Was he, perhaps, referring to the period of domination by the Hyksos?
Around 1200 BC there was no period of foreign domination, but if Ramses III lived 700 or more years later, there was, namely the Persian occupation of Egypt. In 525 BC they conquered Egypt and remained in power for many years, although Persian attempts to conquer Greece failed. Shortly after Artaxerxes became king in Persia in 465 BC, the Egyptians attempted to revolt. They received help from the Athenian fleet, but it ended in failure. Artaxerxes suppressed the uprising and appointed Arsames as a kind of viceroy in Egypt and throughout the area west of the Euphrates. Arsames collected the taxes and took much land for himself. Over a period of more than fifty years we find his name in various documents. Persian rule lasted until 399 BC. Ramses III may well have been talking about that 125 years of Persian domination, Arsames (Arsa) as the main embodiment thereof. The Pereset were not Philistines, but Persians. Ramses III was in power at the end of the Persian occupation of Egypt in 399 BC.
A difference of eight hundred years
The difference between conventional history and that of Velikovsky is greatest for Ramses III; a little over 800 years. Is this possible? The further we get in time, the better the coverage is and the easier we can verify facts. It is a test for Velikovsky's theories, because we cannot be content by saying that with some imagination the facts can be joined together. The details of the coverage of Ramses III and those of Greek historians must match.
So let's see what is known about the Pereset and the Persians. A similarity is found in what the Pereset wear on their head. The Pereset on the tomb of Ramses wear a crown with what appear to be upright feathers, just like the depiction of Persian soldiers in the palace of the Persian king Darius. The images of the Pereset also give the impression of well-organized and well-armed troops, not forces of more-or-less nomadic people that the Philistines must have been in 1200 BC. Further, in the Canopus Decree that was written in 238 BC in three languages, to determine the exact length of the year and to settle a new calendar, the name of Persia is written with the characters p-r-s-tt.
We must also compare the texts of Ramses III with those of Greek historians. Not the oldest historians because they were long dead when Ramses III fought his wars, according to Velikovsky. Greek writers say that from 400 BC in Egypt the following kings ruled: Neferites, Acoris, Nectanebo I, Tachos and Nectanebo II. Of them Nectanebo I, who ruled from 379-361 BC, was the most impressive figure. Diodorus of Sicily gives a detailed description of his reign.
On the reliefs on the tomb of Ramses III are shown different stages of the war with the Pereset. In the first image we see Egyptian soldiers fighting against Libyan troops, together with soldiers with a headdress that we have described as Persian and with soldiers with horned helmets, like the Greek soldiers used to wear. In the second image we see Egyptians together with "horned helmets" fighting against the Pereset and in the third image we see a battle of ships in which Egyptian soldiers are fighting against both the "feather-crowns" and the "horned helmets".
Initially, the Persians were in power in Egypt. Nectanebo became king when he was still on friendly terms with the Persians. He fought with them and with Greek mercenaries on the western frontier against Libyans and against the growing power of Carthage.
Diodorus tells us what happened next. After several years Nectanebo began to resist the Persian domination. He offered high payments and thus gathered a large number of Greek mercenaries to fight against the Persians. Chabrias the Athenian was commander of these troops and the Persians were expelled from Egypt.
The Persians, however, frequently co-operated with the Athenians in their war with the Spartans and Thebans in the same period. Athens did not want to quarrel with Persia and gave Chabrias the order to stop. According to Diodorus, in his place they sent Iphicrates to help the Persians.
Attack by sea
Iphicrates and the Persian general Pharnabazus prepared an attack on Egypt. This attack would begin from two sides; an attack by sea to the mouth of the Nile and an attack by land with a large army from Syria. Nectanebo was prepared for the attack. He fortified the eastern frontier against the invasion of the land army and fortified the different mouths of the Nile against the coming fleet. Ramses III also reported that he placed re-inforcements at the mouth of the Nile. The attack was a failure. Ramses wrote that the attackers at the mouth of the Nile were like birds entangled in a net and that the land army was defeated.
Diodorus wrote that the Greek-Persian fleet was able to conquer one of the reinforcements, but then Iphicrates and Pharnabazus quarreled. Iphicrates immediately wanted to push forward to Memphis with his Greek troops, but Pharnabazus wanted to wait for the land army and didn't want Iphicrates to get all the credit for a rapid conquest of Memphis. The invasion of the land army failed. The conquerors of the fortress on the Nile stayed there a few months, but when the water level of the Nile rose they fled. Pharnabazus complained in Athens about the behaviour of Iphicrates, but Athens appointed him commander of the fleet instead.
We see that Nectanebo won a glorious victory over an army of universally dreaded countries, but it is remarkable that there are no reports about this in Egypt. Historians and archaeologists searched for traces of Nectanebo, but nobody thought about Ramses III because he was believed to have lived hundreds of years earlier. Nobody noticed that one of the so-called Horus names of Ramses was "nekht-a-neb". In their search they found two people who left us pretty few monuments and who, one way or another, were not important persons in the country. They were Nekht-hor-heb and Nekht-Nebef. The first was initially thought to be Nectanebo I and the second was thought to be Nectanebo II. Some time later, it was decided that the first was Nectanebo II and the second was Nectanebo I. It was annoying however that the inscriptions of neither of them mentioned the wars that both Nectanebo I and Nectanebo II waged. Velikovsky came to the conclusion that the reports of the wars of Nectanebo will be found nowhere but on the tomb of Ramses III.
Nekht-hor-heb and Nekht-nebef were not Nectanebo I and II, but lived a little earlier, when the Persian power in Egypt was unchallenged and Arsames was the actual ruler. Nekht-hor-heb was a sort of governor for Arsames and there are letters preserved by Arsames to Nehkt-hor-heb. Nekht-nebef had a comparable position shortly before Nekht-hor-heb.
There are more indications that Ramses III did not live in 1200 BC but eight hundred years later, for example, in the language used in the records of Ramses III. A study mentioned that they used very many foreign words and particularly Semitic words. This is puzzling if the text is from 1200 BC, but understandable if they were from 400 BC, as there were considerable Jewish colonies in Egypt at that time. There was a large difference between these texts and classical texts from the 18th Dynasty in the application of grammatical rules and the words and letters used. It seemed that the writers of Ramses III's time didn't even know the ancient hieroglyphic characters anymore.
The last king of an independent Egypt
Subsequent events after the death of Ramses III are not clear. Maybe a merging of Greek and Egyptian data can make the image brighter. According to the Greeks, Nectanebo I was followed by Tachos. Tachos was in Palestine when one of his cousins, Nectanebo II, stood up against him in 360 BC and took his place. Nectanebo II was the last king of an independent Egypt. Until 343 BC Nectanebo II was king of Egypt and the actual ruler in Palestine. It is therefore not surprising that in Palestine traces were found of the presence of Ramses III and Ramses VI in layers where they were not expected, leading to severe recrimination between archaeologists and even insults.
The finds in Egypt showed that Ramses III was succeeded by Ramses IV and his son Ramses V. Ramses IV came to power after another pretender to the throne had been accused of conspiracy and was sentenced to death along with other conspirators. When, six years later, Ramses VI succeeded Ramses IV, he did his very best to remove all traces of Ramses IV and he also appropriated the tomb that was originally attributed to Ramses V. This shows that he came to power in an environment of conflict and we may compare this to the way Nectanebo II pursued Tachos.
The Persian king Artaxerxes III did his best to regain Egypt. In 350 BC his first campaign failed, but he was succesfull in 343 BC. His success was short-lived however. The second Persian occupation lasted from 343 until 332 BC. In that year Alexander the Great chased away the Persian rulers, made himself king of Egypt and established the Hellenic power in Egypt under the so-called Ptolemies.
Part 8. Conclusions
This concludes our travel throughout a revised Egyptian history that I will summarize again, but more briefly. Between 1500 and 1100 BC the Hyksos were in power, who we know from the Bible as the Amalekites. Then came the 18th Dynasty, that fell apart in 830 BC after the death of Akhnaton, Tutankhamun and Ay. The Libyan occupation of Egypt followed, commonly known as the 22nd and 23rd Dynasty lasting not 230 years but only 120 years. Then came the 25th, Ethiopian dynasty for 50 years (the 24th dynasty reigned about the same time in the northwest of the Nile Delta). The 26th Dynasty that came to power around 665 BC was the same as the 19th Dynasty of Seti and Ramses II (or Psammetichus I and Necho II). This dynasty was ended by the invasion of the Persians in 525 BC. The Persian domination is called the 27th dynasty and lasted until 400 BC, when Nectanebo I defeated the Persian invaders. Nectanebo I and II were the 30th dynasty, but were at the same time part of the 20th Dynasty and we know them as Ramses III and Ramses VI. (The 29th dynasty existed during the Persian rule and their power was limited). After Nectanebo came another ten years of Persian domination and finally came Alexander the Great.
In this overview we have only omitted the remainder of the 20th Dynasty and al of the 21st Dynasty. In the second part of the "Sea Peoples" Velikovsky goes further into this. He believes that Ramses VII and VIII were not kings, but were only pretenders trying to gain power. Velikovsky provides arguments that some of the pharaohs of the 21th Dynasty lived during the Persian domination (just like Ramses IX and Ramses XI) and were similar to a high priest; some of them being contemporaries of Nectanebo I and II. Some of them, Si-amon for example, lived even later, in the Ptolemaic period.
The prevailing orthodox view of history summarized
In the prevailing view, the heyday of Egyptian history was the period of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. The beginning of the 18th Dynasty is placed around 1550 BC.Tuthmosis III conquered Canaan and returned with rich booty around 1475 BC. His successor, Amenhotep II had to withdraw, his successors restored their power and in 1340 BC, under Akhnaton, Egypt lost its power again. In the eighty years thereafter, Egypt's power was restored by, successively, Horemheb, Seti I and Ramses II. At first Ramses II battled against the Hittites, but in the end he signed a peace treaty with them in 1250 BC. Fifty years later Ramses III, the most important pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, reported that the Hittite empire was crushed, but in turn he came into conflict with invaders from the north, the Sea Peoples and Pereset. It is remarkable, though, that he said he restored order in Egypt after a long period of foreign domination. Ramses III repelled the Sea Peoples and the Pereset in 1180 BC.
This was the last great military succes that we can find in Egyptian sources.
The next Egyptian king to appear in history is the biblical Shishak who plundered the temple of Solomon in 925 BC. It is assumed that Shoshenk of the 22nd Libyan Dynasty was Shishak. The Bible says that Zerah the Ethiopian was defeated 25 years later and we must assume that he advanced from Egypt to Palestine and had some power in Egypt. Egypt then played no role in the Bible until around 725 BC, when the king of Israel unsuccessfully hoped for support from the Egyptian king So in his fight against the Assyrians. Shortly thereafter, the Ethiopian king Tirhakah couldn't help Israel either. According to Herodotus the Egyptian Psammeticus fought against the Assyrians and his successor, Necos (Necho II), held some kind of balance of power with the new ruler in Mesopotamia, Nebuchadnezzar, until the end of the latter's empire around 600. The Bible says that Necho battled with Assyria near the river Phrat (the Euphrates) and that he killed King Josiah of Judah and captured his son. This is dated to 609 BC. Apries then came into conflict with Libyans and Greeks and Amasis welcomed them in Egypt until the Persians overran Egypt in 525 BC.
Surprisingly, the kings of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties report their actions in detail, but for the activities of the later pharaohs we have to study the Bible, Greek historians and the Assyrian reports. It is logical that the Egyptians reported about their victories much more than about their defeats and we can imagine that Manetho, when making his dynastic divisions, rightly noted that the 18th Dynasty was the oldest and that some time thereafter came the builder of other great monuments, Ramses II. He noted that the next king who left quite a few buildings was Ramses III. The result seems to be that the consecutive periods of victories in Egyptian history have been placed directly one behind the other, with the result that the rest has become a little unclear.
When I first saw Earth in upheaval in a second-hand store I was interested, because in that book Velikovsky proposed disasters that affected Earth and deformed its surface in the remote past. To me it was interesting and funny, as I have always been interested and amused about other eccentricities, such as the theories about the assassination of President Kennedy, or the theory of the similarities between Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ.
I began to read and discovered that Velikovsky had theories about rather recent disasters and that he had extensive arguments for his theories. His book was well-written and his claims were easy to follow. I started looking for his other works and then for other works in the field of archaeology in order to test whether some truth could lie in Velikovsky's claims, or if, on the other hand, something could convince me that he must be mistaken.
From the beginning I didn't know what to think. Sometimes I thought that it could not all be true, but then again, the arguments seemed quite reasonable to me. I cannot deny that I thought it would be funny and hoped Velikovsky was right.
To put it simply, I initially thought there was a thirty percent chance that Velikovsky and his re-arrangement of ancient history were right. This percentage increased when I discovered that the scientists he quoted and the archaeological finds upon which he based his conclusions were not obscure details, but were from respected mainstream scientists and were real discoveries in the field of the history of the Middle East. Velikovsky mentions names and places that keep coming back in summaries of Egyptian, Greek or biblical history. Now, after making this summary, I have more confidence in Velikovsky's revision of history, let us say something more than fifty percent, but I keep in mind that maybe, somewhere, I've made an error in my thinking.
The work of Velikovsky encountered much resistance and he didn't make it easy for himself by having Worlds in Collision (in which he defended the controversial proposition that the orbit of planets in our solar system changed several times between 1500 and 700 BC, with devastating consequences on Earth), was published first. Also, he didn't present those ideas as a possibility, but as fact.
It was only two years later, while he was still engaged in fierce debate over his first work, that Ages in Chaos (in which he undermined the foundations of an entirely different branch of science - archaeology) was published. He asked himself if it wouldn't have been better to give more evidence for Worlds in Collision before engaging in a new battle with historians. However, he came to the conclusion that he should not postpone wrtiting his Opus Magnum.
The fact is, that his theory about the movement of the planets met too much resistance, so much so that he became known in the eyes of most of the scientific community as at best a dreamer and at worst a crook. He was accused of being a charlatan. However, no-one accused him of wrong or biased citation of the work of others.
Perhaps the resistance against Worlds in Collision gave Ages in Chaos, a false start. Now he was fighting on two fronts, to put it bluntly: he first said that astronomers were crazy and two years later he added that the archaeologists were also crazy, which made both astronomers and archaeologists come to the conclusion that it was Velikovsky who was crazy.
For this reason I have restricted myself in this summary to mentioning "major disasters" and to not go deeper into the background of those disasters, or into that particular theory of Velikovsky's.
There are people who defend the claims of Velikovsky, but it seems to me that what he says about disasters and planets will really be tested when what he says about the re-ordering of ancient history of the Middle East is accepted. If historians can demonstrate that Velikovsky's re-ordering must be wrong, then the rest of his theories will lose some (or all) of its credibility. If however, historians cannot give convincing answers to his claims, it's time to submit the rest of his views once more to a serious investigation, in order to find out what really happened between 1500 and 700 BC.
I have been searching for criticism of the work of Velikovsky, but, I must say, up to now, I have not found criticism that convinced me. Not many people have taken the trouble to criticize the work of Velikovsky in detail. Most people thought it was enough to mumble something about pseudo-science. It's no co-incidence that in shops for antiquarian books you'll find Velikovsky's books in the corner of esoterica and UFO's. The criticism I found often took one detail that, according to the critic, could not be correct. This criticism might be right, but I believe that for the historical work of Velikovsky it's not enough to point to a few incorrect details (which indoubtedly there are). An effective criticism should show the mistake in the complete structure Velikovsky made of ancient history.
For ancient history Velikovsky built a new structure next to the conventional one. Both structures have their errors, but at first glance, Velikovskys revised version of history is simpler and more elegant than the conventional version of the textbooks. I'm not an expert but I think the conventional history contains more absurdities than the revision of Velikovsky and in any case, I have never found a comprehensive criticism of why Velikovsky's revision is wrong.
Further, I would say that Velikovsky deserves not to be dismissed as a fraud. He deserves a thorough investigation and proper handling of his work. It might be wise to explain once more where Velikovsky made his mistakes. I do not think the debate is over yet or, as an employee of the bookshop once said when I bought a book by Velikovsky, "Yes, that's here to stay."
Easy to test
Velikovsky claimed that Egyptian history has been made much older than it really is - e.g. the great Egyptian kings were dated to before 1000 BC - while other civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean came after 1000 BC. In order to make things fit, the Egyptologists built a chronology of Egypt from the information that the Pharaoh's gave of their wars and then an empire of kingdoms in the lands surrounding Egypt was tied to that chronology. There was the land Punt, the Canaanites (who were much more civilized than often thought), the Sea Peoples, the Hurrians, the Mitanni, the Hittites and the Pereset.
These peoples have some things in common. First, little is known about where these peoples came from and where they went to. Secondly, many events seem to have happened twice; with Velikovsky seeing similarities in the experience of, respectively, the empire of Solomon, Judah and Israel; the Greeks; the Carians; the Chaldeans; the Medes and the Persians.
It should in fact be easy to test whether Velikovsky is right. The evidence for the correctness of one view or the other should be found in almost any excavation in Greece or the Middle East. In different layers, the succession of empires or kings can be found. Velikovsky claimed that in just about any location, the evidence can be found of the inaccuracy of the prevailing view of history, but if he is wrong the stratigraphy will show it. For example, if the remains of the 19th dynasty were located under the remains of the 22nd or 24th dynasty and not above them, as Velikovsky's theory requires them to be, or if the findings of the Hittites are located far below Assyrian finds, rather than just above them, as Velikovsky's theory demands they should be; or yet again, that Mycenaean objects are found under, instead of alongside, the objects with geometric shapes.
If Velikovsky's theory is nonsense, it must be clearly demonstrated that the examples he gives, are the rare exceptions to the general rule. However, there have not been many attempts to refute Velikovsky's theory in that direction. Possibly I did not search enough and maybe this criticism has been made, but for now I will assume that the absence of such criticism shows how hard it is to provide.