The articles listed on this page, which will be regularly updated, will cover a wide variety of topics, from history through to mythology, natural history and the philosophy of science.
What Happened to Akhnaton?
Egyptologists profess to know nothing of the eventual fate of Akhnaton, the heretic pharaoh who was the father of Tutankhamun. Nonetheless, there exists fairly conclusive evidence to suggest that towards the end of his reign he fled to Nubia, where he died in exile.
Akhnaton was one of the most extraordinary characters ever to sit on the throne of Egypt: He abandoned the worship of Egypt's gods in favor of a single deity, the sun-god Aton; he moved the court from Thebes to a new city dedicated to the Aton hundreds of miles to the north; he abolished Egypt's artistic conventions and ordered painters and sculptors to portray him as he really was - and he was apparently somewhat deformed; he openly engaged in unusual sexual liaisons, including, it seems, with his own mother.
Such a person, so extraordinary in every way, could scarcely have been forgotten by the Egyptians. His name, it is true, was never afterwards written on any monument or official document. When he was referred to he was simply called "the criminal of Akhet-Aton" (Akhet-Aton being the new capital he designed for himself). Yet very little, or nothing at all, was mentioned in the hieroglyphic records of his life or reign. Nonetheless, Akhnaton was not forgotten in folk tradition, and several legends recorded by authors of the classical age refer to the memorable events of his life and reign.
Altogether, Akhnaton is remembered in three traditions. The first and most important of these is the Greek legend of Oedipus, the king of Thebes who solved the riddle of the sphinx and married his mother. That this story belongs in Egyptian Thebes and not its Greek namesake is a proposition argued in great detail by Velikovsky; and if anyone wishes to examine the evidence in detail Velikovsky's Oedipus and Akhnaton is the place to look. Briefly, the story of Oedipus, the king with the swollen feet or legs, tells us how an impious ruler of Thebes married his own mother, was punished by the gods with blindness, and went into exile abroad, where he died.
The next tradition, in order of importance, is that recorded by the Ptolemaic scholar Manetho in his great history of Egypt, the Aegyptiaca. The latter was lost during the Middle Ages, but we possess several segments in the writings of Josephus and others. According to Josephus, Manetho told of a king named Amenophis who sought to "see the gods". A seer of that time, also named Amenophis, and described as the 'son of Papis', informs his royal master that in order to communicate with the gods as he wished, he would need to expel certain 'polluted wretches' from the country. The 'polluted' persons are then rounded up and put to work in quarries. After these events the seer has pangs of conscience, realizing that the cruel treatment of the 'polluted' persons would bring retribution from heaven. After preparing a letter, in which he warned the king that the country was destined to be invaded and that he would be driven into exile, the seer commits suicide.
Even mainstream academics admit that the story of Amenophis and the "polluted wretches" refers to Amenhotep IV (Akhnaton) and his epoch. A famous seer named Amenhotep, son of Hapu, was indeed active during the time of Akhnaton. Furthermore, the 'polluted' persons are clearly those associated with the Atenist heresy. Nonetheless, Egyptologists profess to be puzzled by the story's reference to foreign invasion and a king being driven into exile.
Although the sequence of events in the story of the "polluted wretches" is confused, it would seem apparent that the pharaoh who wished to 'see the gods' was Akhnaton and that, at some stage, he was deposed and forced to flee the country.
The last tradition referring to Akhnaton comes from Herodotus, who was told of a king named Anysis, who lived in a town of the same name. This pharaoh, Herodotus informs us, was blind and was driven into exile by the Ethiopian king Sabakos.
It would appear that Anysis and his namesake city were Akhnaton and Akhet-Aton, and that the story's reference to the king's exile and his encounter with the Ethiopians (Nubians) is a garbled and confused memory of what actually happened to Akhnaton.
Drawing on the evidence of all three traditions we can say the following: Towards the end of his reign, Akhnaton went blind; this affliction being attributed by the seer Amenhotep son of Hapu to the pharaoh's impious actions. After this, a coup d'etat was organized against him, and he fled, with a substantial portion of his court, to Ethiopia (Nubia).
The above conclusion is strikingly confirmed by the survival of the Aton-cult in Nubia until the time of Shabaka and Tirhaka, of the 25th Dynasty. The latter mentions Gem-Aton, the cult center of Aton-worship founded by Akhnaton, on several occasions. And the mention of Gem-Aton by Tirhaka is viewed by historians as proof that the Nubian 25th Dynasty was founded by refugees fleeing Egypt at the end of Akhnaton's reign - though they are amazed that the Aton-cult should have survived so long after the extinction of the heresy in Egypt, believing as they do that well over six centuries separate its demise in Egypt from the next mention of it by Tirhaka. However, from the perspective of the revised chronology proposed here, we find that only a century or so separates Akhnaton's reign from the Nubian epoch.
Stone Carving Technology in Early Egypt
There has been much discussion in recent years, especially on the internet, on the question of how the Egyptians of the Old Kingdom and even the Early Dynastic Age were able to carve stones such as basalt, granite and diorite. The latter in particular is extremely hard and can only be worked using either good quality steel or a cutting tool tipped with either a diamond or other hard gemstone. Yet the early Egyptians fashioned diorite into ornate vases and magnificent statues.
The problem of Egyptian stone-carving is made all the more intractible by textbook chronology, which places the Early Dynastic and Pyramid Ages in the third millennium B.C. Since neither iron nor diamonds are believed to have been known to the Egyptians of that period, the question of granite and diorite carving becomes acute and has, not surprisingly, led to much outlandish speculation about supposed "Lost Civilizations" etc.
The problem becomes slightly less serious when the revised 'Ages in Alignment' chronology is adopted. Now the Early Dynastic and Pyramid Ages are placed between the eleventh and ninth centuries B.C. - much closer to what is generally termed the 'Iron Age'. Yet even this dramatic chronological readjustment does not fully resolve the issue. If by the Iron Age we mean the time at which iron, or rather steel, replaces bronze as the metal of weapon-manufacture, then the Iron Age proper must be placed in the seventh century B.C. The first evidence of widespread use of steel weaponry comes from the Neo-Assyrian epoch of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. These two are normally placed in the ninth century B.C., but following the chronological scheme outlined here, they are actually Mede kings who reigned in the seventh century B.C.
This means, among other things, that the epoch of the pyramid-builders - the ninth century B.C. - was still part of what is termed the 'Bronze Age'. How then, it will be asked, did they carve granite and diorite?
Before going a step further, we need to clear up the whole issue of 'Bronze' and 'Iron' Ages. Textbooks invariably convey the impression that these were neatly defined epochs during which folk used only the metal associated with the term. But this is a total fallacy. In fact, for many centuries people throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia used stone, bronze and iron implements simultaneously. It needs to be understood that all metals were extremely expensive during the early epochs of civilization. As a matter of fact, they remained expensive throughout the Middle Ages and even up to the time of the Industrial Revolution. Whilst kings, princes, and nobles might be armed with bronze armour and steel weapons, peasant farmers continued to employ stone implements for everyday tasks around the homestead.
Not surprisingly, then, flint and other stone implements regularly occur in archaeological sites otherwise dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages - though this is rarely mentioned in textbooks.
The other point that needs clarification is one of technology: The simple truth is that once a society has mastered the technology of copper smelting (ie. the charcoal furnace), it already possesses the means to smelt iron. Copper melts at 1,085 degrees Centigrade, whilst iron melts at the slightly higher temperature of 1,149 degrees, but the furnaces used in antiquity for smelting both were essentially the same.
The real problem with iron production centered round the acquisition of good quality ore. Copper ore tends to be much more easily separated from impurities and reduced to a pure form. The smelting of iron ore, however, initially produces little more than a useless slag which has to be worked repeatedly in order to extract any usable iron. In short, iron production is extremely labor intensive.
The Egyptians of the Pyramid Age were acquainted with iron; a fact confirmed both by archaeological discovery and by numerous literary references. In the Pyramid Texts, for example, Osiris is said to sit on a throne of iron, whilst the sun god is said to hold the earth in his grasp by means of iron chains. The Greek writer Herodotus mentions in passing that the Egyptians used iron tools in constructing the Great Pyramid. And these statements have been confirmed archaeologically by the discovery of an iron plate deep in the masonry of the Great Pyramid by the Englishman R. W. H. Vyse in 1837 and by the subsequent discovery of a series of iron tools dating to the Fifth Dynasty by Flinders Petrie.
These finds are generally ignored in mainstream publications and when they do get mentioned there is usually an attempt to cast doubt on their authenticity. Nonetheless, iron artefacts have also been recovered from Mesopotamian sites contemporary with Old Kingdom Egypt, whilst in Greece Heinrich Schliemann recovered several iron objects from the Shaft Graves at Mycenae.
In addition, the carving of finely detailed diorite statues - such as the famous seated figure of Cheops' son Chephren - could only have been executed by good quality steel tools. Diorite can certainly be smoothed and polished by sand abrasion, but the fine lines of the Chephren statue, particlarly the eyes, nose and ears of the portrait, can surely only be explained by the use of a high carbon steel chisel. That certainly is the conclusion of all modern engineers and artisans who have examined the figure.
Where then did the Egyptians procure such tools?
We know that there was never - not even in the late pharaohnic period - any substantial iron industry in Egypt. The quality of iron ore available in the Nile Kingdom was just too poor to allow it. But other regions of the Near East, particulalry Anatolia, had access to far better quality ore. And there is no doubt that a substantial iron-smelting industry existed in the Hittite Land at a very early period. This was the land of the biblical Tubalcain. It would appear that, using the most primitive methods, the Hittite iron-smiths were able, from the eleventh century B.C. onwards, to produce small quantities of smelted iron. The cast- or pig-iron taken from the furnace was re-heated and hammered repeatedly, often over many days, to remove impurities and thereby produce a small quantity of pure or wrought iron.
This precious material was far more valuable than gold and was invariably used for highly specialized tools. But of course the finished tools were not of iron; they were of steel. Once pig-iron is refined into pure or wrought iron, it is then almost child's play to produce steel. The iron tool is simply heated and then plunged into a trough of powdered charcoal, or wrapped in an animal skin. Carbon in the charcoal or skin migrates into the red-hot iron, producing a layer of steel. The carbon in the steel can be increased by simply repeating the process.
It would appear that the Hittite smiths exported finished steel tools such as chisels and saws throughout the Near East and that some of these reached Egypt, where they were employed by the pyramid-builders. At this early stage however steel was rarely used for weapons, as its expense was prohibitive. Only in the seventh century B.C., when more efficient methods of iron-smelting were discovered in the Hittite Land, did steel first come to be used on a large scale for weaponry.
The suppression of Velikovsky's work by the academic establishment constitutes one of the most disreputable episodes in the entire history of science. In terms of intellectual dishonesty even the suppression of Galileo pales into insignificance; for whilst Galileo was anathematized for a few decades, even his opponents accepted his findings once the evidence became clear-cut and irrefutable. By constrast, in spite of Velikovsky's main findings being rock-solid and beyond reasonable question, his work remains anathematized and his name never mentioned - except in derision.
Whole books and academic theses have been written about this quite unprecedented suppression, a phenomenon which has come to be known as the "Velikovsky Affair". A book of that very title, published in 1976, presented a series of essays examining the topic. The general conclusion was that Velikovsky's radical theory seriously undermined the reputation of too many establishment thinkers in too many fields. Hence the blacklisting of him and his work.
There is no question that academic egos and reputations were indeed a factor, but, I would suggest, there was something else; something much more visceral.
Velikovsky himself touched on the whole problem in his posthumously-published Mankind in Amnesia. Here he looked not so much at the suppression of his work as at the suppression of the whole idea of catastrophes and catastrophism throughout history. According to him, cosmic catastrophes were so destructive and so shocking that, from the earliest times, men sought to 'reinterpret' as allegory myths and legends which spoke in clear and unequivocal terms of such events.
Mankind in Amnesia is a rich book which presents the broad sweep of human history through the lens of the psychologist and psychoanalyst. Here we meet once again Velikovsky the polymath; Velikovsky the Renaissance man whose knowledge verges on the encyclopaedic; a man comfortable and competent in a dizzying number of fields of knowledge. And yet, for all we might say in the book's favor, there is one glaring oversight. The myths and legends which tell of cosmic catastrophes have indeed been reinterpreted as allegory - but only by modern man. This is a fact which Velikovsky ignores and even denies in the above-mentioned book. The catastrophes described so vividly in the Old Testament were never denied or allegorized until modern times. Until the early 19th century no one ever claimed that these events had not occurred. And indeed when ancient and medieval Europeans considered the catastrophes described in Greek and other non-biblical sources they understood these to refer to the same events as those described in the Jewish Scriptures.
There is no question that all peoples and all civilizations invariably viewed these catastrophes as punishment sent by God or the gods, and there is no doubt that they tended to push them back into a slightly remoter age than that to which they truly belonged; but no one before the 19th century ever doubted that these events had occurred and that they had occurred within the span of recorded human history. Some philosophers, such as Aristotle, insisted that the universe was a stable mechanism designed to be so by the divine Architect (a fact stressed by Velikovsky), but neither Aristotle nor any of the other ancient or medieval writers doubted that catastrophes had occurred when the Divine Will decreed them. It was left for the secularists of the 19th century to take that momentous step - a fact curiously overlooked by Velikovsky in all his commentaries.
The denial of catastrophes was in fact closely tied to the rise of Darwinism; yet Darwinism itself was a product of an earlier 18th/19th century concept: Progress. Before the Age of Enlightenment the word "progress" meant simply movement towards the completion of a task or goal - a meaning the word still possesses. However, by the middle of the 18th century "progress" took on an entirely different meaning in the writings of the philosophers and thinkers of the time. They began to speak of "Progress" as a never-ending process which would eventually (mainly through science) deliver to mankind something like a paradise on earth; a veritable utopia. So enamoured was 18th century man of science that this view gained immense popularity and quickly became the default mode of thought among a large class of intellectuals.
It goes without saying that Progress understood in these terms is utterly incompatible with Christianity or indeed with any form of religion. And it was this almost Faustian belief in man's mastery of nature and of his own fate that prepared the way philosophically for Darwinism.
Darwinism as such was an extremely poor scientific theory. Nonetheless, it was a genuine theory; it was falsifiable and indeed it was quickly falsified. Critics of Darwin, including the great Lord Kelvin, pointed out that if nature could produce new species by selective breeding ("natural selection"), why had farmers and stock-breeders (who could proceed much more quickly than nature) failed to produce a single new species in all the thousands of years they had been selectively breeding cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, etc.? Yet in spite of Darwinism's shaky grounds, it was quickly embraced by the intellectual establishment of the day. The philosophical ground had been prepared. The intelligentsia of Europe and America was looking for an explanation of life that excluded the need for a Divine Intelligence, and Darwin, flawed though he was, was what they wanted.
It will be easily understood that Progress, the notion of a man-made Utopia created by human intelligence through mastery of Nature and nature's laws, would have no time at all for the idea of cosmic catastrophes: Random mass destructions of the earth's surface over which human beings have no control whatsoever. For Science to produce its Utopia the world needs to be calm and ordered - for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. After all, if what the ancient myths and legends (and Velikovsky as well as other catastrophists such as Donnelly and Spence) said was true, all the efforts of human science and culture could be wiped off the face of the earth in the twinkling of an eye. Such an idea had to be suppressed. And it was suppressed. And it remains suppressed to this day. The new secularist religion of Progress demanded it and the new religion got what it wanted. Yet what a terrible price the world has paid. The belief in a perfectable world, a world devoid of a Divine Creator, paved the way for the murderous utopian ideologies of Communism and Fascism which devastated the earth throughout the 20th century and which continue their malevolent work to this day.
Archaeologists date the material remains of the ancient Middle East into various stages of what is known as the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. Because these nomeclatures are tied to a fictitious chronology, discoveries in the ground rarely correspond to what the ancient authors and histories spoke of. So, for example, the Jerusalem of King Solomon, who supposedly reigned in the tenth century B.C., is sought in what is termed Iron Age strata. But the latter reveals only a small and relatively impovished settlement. The spade of the archaeologist has in fact revealed no grand city at Jersualem until the time of Antiochus III and the Maccabees - with one exception: that exception being the last stage of the city during what is called the Middle Bronze Age.
In Palestine/Syria the so-called Middle Bronze Age is associated with the period of the Hyksos, the Asiatic dynasty which dominated Egypt for many generations. However, in Syria/Palestine the term Middle Bronze is also applied to the first few decades of what in Egypt is termed the Late Bronze Age - the epoch of the Eighteenth Dynasty. This is confirmed by the following comment from archaeologist Aaron Burke: "It is generally agreed that it was Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty that was responsible for the demise of Canaan's defences at the close of the Middle Bronze Age." (Burke, "Canaan under Siege: The History and Archaeology of Egypt's War in Canaan during the Early Eighteenth Dynasty," in J. Vidal (ed.) Studies on War in the Ancient Near East (Munster, 2010), p. 47) Burke speaks here specifically of Thutmose III's invasion and conquest of Canaan at the start of his reign, and it was this event that brought Canaan's "Middle Bronze" cultural epoch to an end.
Recent discoveries have demonstrated that Jerusalem was a mighty stronghold at this time. In 2009 archaeologists reported the discovery of an enormous fortification wall close to the Temple Mount. Reports spoke of a "Massive ancient wall," which, "Standing 8 meters (26 feet) high," the wall was of "of huge cut stones and a marvel to archaeologists." ("'Massive' ancient wall uncovered in Jerusalem," CNN News, September 4, 2009, www.cnn.com) All of the boulders of comprising this structure weigh between four and five tons, and the section uncovered was 24 meters (79 feet) long. "However, it is thought that the fortification is much longer because it continues west beyond the part that was exposed," the Israel Antiquities Authority reported. A joint statement by the leaders of the dig announced that, "this is the most massive wall that has ever been uncovered in the City of David," and marks the first time that "such a massive construction that predates the Herodian period has been discovered in Jerusalem." They also stated that, "Despite the fact that so many have excavated on this hill, there is a very good chance that extremely large and well-preserved architectural elements are still hidden in it and waiting to be uncovered."
These discoveries confirmed what archaeologists had suspected for some time: that the latter part of the Middle Bronze Age marked a peak of power and prosperity at Jerusalem never again attained until the time of the Maccabees.
According to Velikovsky, Hatshepsut, the predecessor of Thutmose III, visited Jerusalem, and the mighty citadel now revealed by archaeology is the one which Hatshepsut would have seen. In short, this was the Jerusalem of Solomon. Velikovsky first made Hatshepsut and Solomon contemporaries in his 1953 book Ages in Chaos, and at that time nothing was known of the discoveries mentioned above. As such, these constitute a stunning confirmation of his overall reconstruction.
Thutmose III commemorated his conquests in Canaan with a great structure at Karnak, where he listed the cities of the region. A metropolis named Kadesh stands at the head of the list, and is followed by towns such as Megiddo, Ashdod, Jaffa, Gaza, etc. It is not doubted that the rest of these are in Palestine, though historians claim that Kadesh, the chief city of the list, lay much further to the north, in Syria. It is also claimed that Kadesh was not actually conquered by Thutmose III.
The improbability of the above position - that of mainstream scholarship - hardly needs to be emphasized. It is clear that Kadesh must have been in Palestine and that it must have been the most important town in the region. It is clear too that Thutmose III must have conquered it. As Velikovsky poitned out, Jerusalem is named 'kadesh' - "holy", repeatedly throughout the Scriptures, and is still called by this name (Al Kuds) in modern Arabic. And we now find that Jerusalem was by far the greatest citadel in the whole region at the time, making it absolutely impossible that it could have been ignored by Thutmose III.
Lot and the Crystal Pillar
Readers of this website and other publications of mine will be aware that I regard the Abraham legend as referring to a remote epoch. The context of the story places it at the beginning of literate civilization and refers specifically to a cosmic catastrophe at the end of the Jamdat Nasr period; a catastrophe which was followed by a great culture-bearing migration out of Mesopotamia which touched all the lands of the fertile crescent and reached Egypt. Indeed, it was migrants from Mesopotamia, the 'Abraham tribe', which at that moment laid the foundations of Egyptian civilization. This epochal event was recalled by the Egyptians themselves, as well as by the Hebrews and the Phoenicians.
There are numerous clues to all of this in the character of Abraham as defined in the Book of Genesis, not least of which are his phallic associations: His very name means "father of many", whilst he initiates the custom of circumcision (with a flint knife, be it noted). The apparently ritual homosexuality of the city of Sodom is another clue.
In all of this Abraham is clearly cognate with the Egyptian phallic deity Min, whose prominence at the beginning of the First Dynasty was emphasized by Flinders Petrie. Very many representations of Min from this period have come to light. It would appear that Min was the initiator of circumcision in Egypt, a custom attested from the beginning of the First Dynasty; whilst Min also appears to be identical to the legendary first pharaoh Menes, or Mena.
Now Egyptian tradition also emphasized that the first ruler of Egypt was the god Osiris, and there exists a great deal of evidence to show that Min and Osiris were initially one and the same deity. Osiris too was a phallic god, whose erect penis impreganted Isis after his death - an occurrence which led to the birth of Horus. Osiris, as David Rohl proved in some detail, was, like many other Egyptian gods (such as Isis/Ishtar) originally a Mesopotamian deity; Asir. The Egyptians themselves were specific that Osiris and his cult originated in the east; in the Land of Punt. Indeed, Osiris was always closely connected to Punt; a connection emphasized in very many ways. For example, the word "god", netjer, was a term peculiarly associated with Osiris, since Osiris, as the first mummy, was enveloped in natron salt; and the Egyptian word natron (natrin) is related to the word netjer, "god". Punt was known as Ta Netjer ("God's Land") and, as Siegfried Morenz noted, the term was used almost as a pun, implying that Punt was the "Land of Osiris".
Whilst there is a good deal of debate regarding the location of Punt, it is generally agreed that Ta Netjer, the Divine Land, is often - or usually - associated with the region of Syria/Palestine. In any case, other evidence entirely connects Osiris with the same territory. So, for example, Egyptian tradition told how, after being murdered by his brother Set, Osiris' body was placed in a casket which floated down the Nile and out to sea, after which it was washed ashore at Byblos - where it grew into the trunk of a tamarisk tree. The King of Byblos had this tree felled and carved into a wonderful pillar or column, which he placed in his palace. From this alone, it is very clear that Osiris had an especially close relationship to the Palestine/Phoenicia region.
A host of evidence indicates that Punt, and the Divine Land, the Land of Osiris, was one and the same as Jordan/Dead Sea Valley. It was here, in the extremely warm climate of the deepest depression on earth, that frankincense was anciently cultivated; a crop for which the region was famous. This territory was especially associated with Osiris and was regarded as sacred not only on account of the incense (used in temple ritual), but also because here was found two of the essential ingredients of mummification: Bitumen and natron salt. The latter in particular is of interest. The Egyptians, we know, associated Osiris with a sacred column or pillar (the one created by the King of Byblos) known as the Djed Pillar. This latter object was believed to represent the spine of Osiris, and was believed to be encased in a coating of natron salt. The Djed Pillar was, in effect, a Pillar of Salt.
At this stage we need to return briefly to the Book of Genesis. Around the shores of the Dead Sea stand strange-looking salt pillars; natural features that are believed to have been the inspiration for the incident in Genesis, where the wife of Abraham's nephew Lot is transformed into a pillar of salt after looking back at the destruction of Sodom. It would appear that the Djed Pillar and Lot's wife are one and the same.
Extra-biblical Hebrew tradition, as mentioned in Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, specifically states that it was Abraham who first brought the arts of civilization to Egypt, and this stands in agreement with Egyptian tradition, which states that Osiris was the founder of civilized life in the country. All this is further reinforced by Phoenician tradition, as recorded by Sanchoniathon, who states that it was Misor, a Phoenician prince, who first taught the Egyptians the arts of civilization. (Misor, or Wisor, was evidently one and the same as Osiris).
The evidence, taken together, would suggest the following:
(a) Abraham is mythically identical to the phallic god Min, who is also the same as Osiris.
(b) The migration of the "Abraham tribe" from Mesopotamia to Syria/Palestine and Egypt is a memory of the culture-bearing migration which brought Mesopotamian culture to Egypt at the start of the First Dynasty.
(c) This migration followed a cosmic catastrophe involving some form of "Tower" structure, and the whose epoch was punctuated by repeat cosmic upheavals.
In Genesis, the story of the Tower immediately precedes that of Abraham. As I have argued in detail in several places, this "Tower", which was apparently some kind of electro-magnetic feature emanating from the magnetic pole, occurs in mythology from all parts of the globe. Invariably, it is viewed as an attempt by the gods, or titans, or tyrant kings, to re-establish contact with heaven after it had been terminated by the Flood. The Tower seems to have generally appeared shining like a pillar of crystal. It also altered its shape, on occasion putting out large filaments which looked like branches of a tree. Occasionally it appeared in almost human form, with branches appearing like enormous arms. It also appeared like a very large phallus; and the entire phallic cult of this epoch was derived from this.
The artwork of the Early Dynastic epoch reflects all of this. Again and again we see images of a pillar or tower, often intertwined with serpents and long-necked beasts. Later this would be superseded by a simple pillar with two rampant felines. The magic wand of Hermes/Mercury, the caduceus, was modelled on this pillar.
The Tower or Pillar or Tree of Life was invariably placed at the North Pole. In Greek legend it was guarded by a dragon/serpent named Ladon, who was the same as Latona. This latter was identical to the Phoenician dragon Lotan (Leviathan of the Bible). Intriguingly however, in their ancient voyages to Britain in search of tin, the Phoenicians brought the name there. Thus in the Arthurian legend the tyrant king Vortigern's attempt to build a great Tower was associated with a dragon-deity named Loth or Ludd, which dwelt at the base of the tower. This creature lived in the far north and his name is preserved in the Scottish region of Lothian, though he was also associated with the tower-like features of the far northern Orkney islands.
The same habit of localizing cosmic events on the earth occurred at the Dead Sea, where Lot's or Lotan's tower was later associated with one of the crystal pillars on the Dead Sea's shores.
Egypt's non-existent "Middle Kingdom"
If the scheme of things presented in the Ages in Alignment reconstruction is correct, where Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty comes immediately after the Sixth (with the Pepi/Apepi pharaohs), it will be obvious that all the dynasties listed in the textbooks between those two - i.e. the Seventh through to the Seventeenth - cannot have existed in the places they have been assigned to and most certainly cannot constitute a separate historical epoch, the epoch known in the textbooks as the 'Middle Kingdom'.
Even conventional scholarship agrees that the majority of these 'dynasties', most especially the Seventh through to the Tenth, are 'ephemeral'; which is basically academic talk for 'lacking much or any proof of existence'. The Eleventh and Seventeenth Dynasties I will deal with presently. The Fifteenth and Sixteenth were Hyksos - i.e. one and the same as the Sixth. The two main dynasties of the Middle Kingdom, the ones which have left fairly substantial archaeology, are the Twelfth and Thirteenth, with the Twelfth Dynasty in particular well represented thus. Where then are these two dynasties to be placed?
Before going a step further, it needs to be stated that nowhere are artefacts of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties found underneath those of the Eighteenth - as they should be if they came before. On the contrary, material of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties is invariably found in the same strata as that of the Eighteenth. For example, during excavations at Ugarit in northern Syria, Claude Schaeffer found a basalt sphinx of Twelfth Dynasty pharaoh Amenemhet III in the same stratum as an archive of cuneiform documents belonging to King Nikmed, a contemporary of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhnaton.
Like the Eighteenth Dynasty rulers, the pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty were great devotees of the god Amen. Indeed, their primary role seems to have consisted of offering sacrifice to this deity. None of the Twelfth Dynasty pharaohs is mentioned in regard to military matters or such like. Religion seems to have been their speciality. All of which seems to suggest that they were a line of priest-kings who "reigned" alongside the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs. Dynasties of priest-kings are well attested from other epochs of Egypt's history; and this would go some way to explain the extraordinary reign-lengths of these pharaohs: like other priest-kings, their "reigns" began with their birth, not later in life, as with normal monarchs.
The Twelfth Dynasty was directly preceded by a Theban line of kings who are numbered as the Eleventh Dynasty. This latter family fought a bitter war against Asiatics based in the north of the country, and in this they precisely parallel the Seventeenth Dynasty, another line of Theban monarchs who made war upon Asiatics based in the north. In fact, the parallels between the Eleventh Dynasty and the Seventeenth are precise and utterly inexplicable from the point of view of conventional chronology. Both lines of kings had family members named Inyotef and both were allied with a subordinate princely line of rulers named Sebekhotep. Furthermore, the art and culture of the Eleventh Dynasty is almost indistinguishable from that of the Seventeenth, and this similiarity ran into the time of the early Eighteenth Dynasty. So, for example, at Deir el-Bahri to the west of Thebes, the wonderful temple of Hatshepsut has a very clear counterpart in the adjacent temple of Mentuhotep III, of the Eleventh Dynasty. These two temples, one of the Eleventh Dynasty and one of the Eighteenth, are of a kind unique in Egypt, and have no parallels elsewhere in the country.
We can say then that the entire "Middle Kingdom" is a fictition. The Eleventh Dynasty rulers of Thebes were nothing but alter-egos of the Seventeenth Dynasty, also of Thebes, who were the direct predecessors of the Eighteenth Dynasty. As for the Twelfth Dynasty, they were a line of priest-kings based in Middle Egypt who 'reigned' alongside the Eighteenth Dynasty. Gunnar Heinsohn has suggested they were of Mitannian (Mede) ethnic origin, and this would certainly explain the distinctly non-Egyptian appearance of these kings as recorded in their portraits. That a Mede family should have been accorded such honor in Egypt is explained by the assistance given Egypt by the Medes in the recent war against the Hyksos/Assyrians.
The Babylonian Exile and the Second Temple
It is a strange fact that the Persian epoch, as well as the first century of the Hellenistic epoch, is entirely missing from the archaeological record in Jerusalem. This was not expected, given the fact that, according to the Old Testament, the Persian and Hellenistic ages were extremely lively periods in the history of the city. We are told that, after the Babylonian sack of the city and the deportation of its population to Mesopotamia around 580 B.C., the town was resettled by Judeans following the decree of Artaxerxes I in 438 B.C. It was then that a vibrant period of the city’s history began, with the rebuilding of the walls and the erection of the Second Temple. How strange then that none of this appears to be reflected in the archaeology. What excavators have found is evidence of a vibrant metropolitan life during the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian age, with then a complete settlement gap until shortly after 200 B.C. Indeed, the first evidence of any life at the city occurs with the building work of the Seleucid king Antiochus III, who seems to have promoted a major reconstruction of the city around 190 B.C.
From an archaeological point of view then Jerusalem is an uninhabited ruin between circa 580 and 190 B.C. – three hundred and eighty years during which written history assures us was a vibrant epoch throughout the Near East.
The absence of the Persian Age in archaeological terms is not confined to Jerusalem. On the contrary, the entire Fertile Crescent, from southern Mesopotamia through to the southern reaches of Palestine presents a virtual blank to the excavator seeking evidence of architecture and commerce during the Persian epoch. Those who have followed my work on this site as well as in my various publications will be aware that the Persian Age disappearing act is explained by the fact that the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian kings – who are represented abundantly in the archaeology of the region – were nothing other than alter-egos of the Persian Great Kings. And so, for example, it was Artaxerxes III – one and the same person as Nebuchadrezzar – who carried the people of Judah off to captivity in Babylon; not indeed in 580 B.C., but around 320 B.C. (Artaxerxes III is normally believed to have died around 338 B.C., but I believe there are good grounds for down-dating the whole of the Hellenistic and Persian epochs by around 25 to 30 years. In this way, Alexander would have conquered the Persian Empire between 315 and 310 B.C., and would have died sometime between 295 and 290 B.C.)
In the scheme of things presented in my Ages in Alignment series, it was therefore the Persian kings who deported the Hebrews, both of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and it was the Greeks who permitted the return of the latter folk to Jerusalem. But when exactly did this occur?
There is little archaeological evidence from Palestine during the first hundred years of the Hellenistic epoch. During that time, the region was controlled by the Ptolemies, though the Seleucids, who were based in Mesopotamia, made repeated efforts to wrest control of it from the Ptolemies. What little evidence we do have of the region at the time comes from the so-called Zenon archive, a collection of third century papyri from the Faiyum region of Egypt. There is absolutely nothing in the latter archive that would suggest any substantial Jewish life in Palestine at the time (i.e. circa 260 - 230 B.C.).
In Book 12 of his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus outlines the history of the Jewish people during the Hellenistic epoch. He records how the Jews sided with Antiochus III against Ptolemy during the Seleucid struggle for possession of Palestine. After his victory, Antiochus sent several letters, quoted by Josephus, which announced the privileges he accorded the Jews in gratitide for their help against the Egyptians. Antiquities, 12, 138-144 is a copy of one of these, in which Antiochus grants the Jews help for rebuilding their temple, tax reductions for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, an allowance for sacrifices, and various other privileges. Though there has been considerable debate about the authenticity of this and the other two letters, it is now generally accepted that these are indeed the texts of actual letters from the Seleucid king.
The letters of Antiochus seem to imply that Jersualem was then in the process of reconstruction and resettlement. This is especially striking with regard to the reference to "rebuilding" the temple. Yet according to conventional ideas, the temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt in the fifth century B.C., almost three hundred years before the time of Antiochus III. But the testimony of the letters stands in complete accord with that of archaeology, which cannot find any evidence of settlement in Jerusalem during the periods of Persian or Ptolemaic domination.
Conventional scholarship claims that the High Priest Ezra, who was instrumental in resettling Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple, was a contemporary of the Persian King Artaxerxes I, and indeed a King Artaxerxes is mentioned several times in the Books of Ezra. However the First Book of Maccabees also mentions a High Priest named Ezra who, like the Ezra of the Book of Ezra, reads to the people from the sacred books. The Maccabee-era Ezra would have flourished around the first half of the second century B.C. - precisely when archaeology finds a rebuilt and reoccupied Jerusalem, and precisely when Antiochus III sanctioned the resettlement of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Could it be then that Anthiochus III was the same person as Artaxerxes mentioned in the Book of Ezra, and that the Ezra of the latter Book was the same person as the Ezra of the Book of Maccabees?
The evidence, both textual and archaeological, answers the above question in the affirmative. It would appear that Antiochus III ordered the rebuilding and repeopling of Jerusalem with the aim of establishing a bulwark against any further encroachment from the south by the Ptolemies. The Jews had assisted Antiochus against the Egyptian King and were evidently seen by the Seleucid monarch as reliable allies to place on his Egyptian frontier. His aims in this direction were of course to be dramatically overturned just a generation later when the newly-settled Jews rebelled against their estwhile allies and benefactors, during the reign of Antiochus IV.
Why then, it might be asked, does the Book of Ezra mention a "King Artaxerxes" as the great benefactor of the Jews? Assuming that there was no deliberate deception involved (by no means impossible), it may be that Antiochus III also used the name Artaxerxes. It is known that the Macedonians began to adopt Persian customs and manners immediately after Alexander's conquest, and the Seleucids, who inherited the Persian heartland, would have been especially susceptible to the process of Iranization. It is of interest to note that the name Artaxerxes is well attested (in the form Ardashir) in later epochs of Iranian and Mesopotamian history, so it is not unlikely that Seleucid kings could have adopted the same title.