Friday, June 27, 2003

Flinders Petrie and Chronology at Tell El Hesy (Lachish) - 212 LexiLine Journal


Copyright © 2001-2003 by Andis Kaulins

[This is a challenge to the mainstream archaeologists. I claim the
chronology of the Middle East is flawed - and it is flawed due to
errors made initially by Flinders Petrie. My reasons are given
below. Any mainstream archaeologist out there who thinks he can
rebut my arguments is invited to submit a contra e-mail - BASED on
evidence - not on opinion (WHO you or your cited sources are
professionally interests me not a whit - it is the EVIDENCE that
counts - ONLY the evidence).]

Tell El Hesy (Lachish) by W.M. Flinders Petrie, reprinted 1989 by
Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., London, England, 1989, ISBN 1 854
17 052 X, is the foundation for modern chronology of the fertile
crescent. I have read the book in detail, confirming my initial
suspicion that Petrie made capital chronological errors in his
dating of Tell el Hasy and Lachish - errors which mainstream
chronology has blindly followed ever since, leading to a completely
erroneous history of the Middle East.

Since Petrie's dating of Tell El Hesy is the foundation for modern
chronology of the fertile crescent, it is all the more remarkable
that the book is out of print and virtually unknown - even though
its conclusions are uncritically accepted and used to date Biblical
and Egyptian history in general. Most men are sheep.

The fact is that Petrie made critical - if consistent - dating
errors, based on his preconceived notion of the chronological
history represented at the archaeological sites examined by him.


1. Tell el Hesy - 16 miles East of Gaza about a third of the
distance from Gaza to Jerusalem - is an accumulated "residential"
mound ca. 60 feet in heigth (from 278 feet above sea level to 340
feet above sea level).

The upper layer - at 340 feet - contained "regular black and red
Greek pottery" which Petrie dated to ca. 450 BC. The bottom of the
tell is at 278 feet.

There is a layer of a period of great destruction - a stratum of
small stones "at the level of 286 to 291 feet" with a large layer of
ash above that which Petrie calls "the great bed of ashes"." Massive
man-made walls of mud brick lie below the layer of small stones,
pointing to a previous high culture.

Similar mounds in Egypt - as Petrie notes - rise 3 to 4 feet per
century or 30 to 40 feet in a thousand years. At 3 feet per century,
the earliest dwellings would be ca. 2000 years older than the Greek
pottery at the top level and would date to 2450 BC. At 4 feet per
century of accumulation, the earliest dwellings would be ca. 1500
years older than the Greek pottery and would date to ca. 1950 BC.
Since none of these fit into the preconceived picture, Petrie sets
the earliest dwellings at el Hesy at 1670 BC, based on a new
proposed rate of accumulation of 5 feet per century, the faster rate
allegedly because the "greater rainfall" in Syria would lead
to "quicker" destruction of mud walls and thus to a greater rate of
tell accumulation.

Petrie even goes so far as to call certain walls "the Amorite
wall", "Rehoboam's wall", "Manessah's wall", "the Wall of Ahaz",
etc., trying - in an "unscholarly" Schliemann-type manner - to fit
his finds to the Biblical accounts.

Indeed, there is no evidence for such quicker accumulation

Rather, Petrie gently and almost imperceptibly "bends" the
archaeological facts to fit his view of Biblical history.


2. Petrie bases his chronology on what he calls "Phoenician
pottery". As Petrie writes (p. 40), "The excavations at Tell el Hesy
proved to be an ideal place for determining the history of pottery
in Palestine. And once settle the pottery of a country, and the key
is in our hands for all future explorations." Indeed, as if knowing
his error, Petrie writes at page 45 "I have under rated rather than
over rated the age of the Tell el Hesy levels". How right he was !

Pottery called bilbils by the Syrians (thin black vases with long
necks) were found at the level of 305-325 feet above sea level on
the East side of Tell el Hesy and "black bowls" known to be
contemporary to the bilbils were found at the level of 295 to 315
feet at the Southeast side. (Please Note: Assyrian
bil-bil means plural bil, i.e. "bowls" and NOT bil-bil !)

Petrie then states that although this pottery is not dated in
Phoenicia, he had seen similar examples in Egypt, the earliest of
which were dated to the late 18th dynasty in Egypt (Petrie dated
this to ca. 1400 BC on the basis of two similar things of Amenhotep
III - whose reign is dated today to ca. 1350 BC).

To an impartial observer, the bilbils and black bowls would BOTH be
seen to span 20 feet of accumulated time - 305-325 feet on the East
and 295-315 feet on the Southeast, i.e. a corresponding 20 foot time
span, with SLANTING topography probably accounting for the

Petrie, however, inexplicably puts the the two figures together and
expands the Phoenician period to 25 feet of accumulated history at
Tell el Hesy, placing the early Phoenician period at the level of
295 feet and running it to 320 feet, although in fact BOTH measured
sites at Tell el Hesy point to only a 20-foot accumulated Phoenician
time-period. Obviously, Petrie used this calculational "trick" -
perhaps subconsciously - to mesh his preconceived notions about
Biblical chronology with the chronology of Egypt and fit the
Phoenicians in.

Correctly however, to be consistent in using the measuring rod of
the 60 foot heigth of the Tell, the Phoenician pottery period could
only have spanned 20 feet or 1/3 of the height of the tell, from the
level of 305 to 325 feet above sea level, so that 305 feet above sea
level at Tell el Hesy marked the earliest Phoenician pottery and not
295 feet, a difference of ca. 300 critical years (3 feet per
century) of chronology! This indeed is the approximate margin of
error in Biblical chronology between the correct date for Moses and
Exodus (1628 BC) and the date currently assigned to Moses and Exodus
by mainstream chronology (ca. 1300).

If level 305 and not 295 corresponded to Petrie's ca. 1400 BC - then
35 feet of accumulation separated the earliest Phoenician pottery
from the top of the Tell, and 35 feet of accumulation would have
occurred in ca. 1000 years. This would be a rate of accumulation
corresponding to the verified 3 to 4 feet per century evidenced on
corresponding Tells in the Egyptian delta.

The accumulation of 5 feet per century for Tell el Hesy alleged by
Petrie is thus clearly erroneous. As he himself suspected, he had in
fact VASTLY under rated the age of the levels of Tell el Hesy,
simply because he wanted to mesh a Biblical chronology which was far
older than he imagined.

Therefore, NO scholar anywhere in the world today - in any field
dealing with ancient history in the fertile crescent - can possibly
accept Petrie's chronology and those current mainstream chronologies
built upon his conclusions. Such chronologies are nothing other than
fictions and must be amended to correct for Petrie's obvious error.


3. Santorin explodes 1628 BC

Once the dating of Tell el Hesy has been corrected, the layer of ash
(5 feet!) and the layer of stones above the massive walls below take
on a new significance since the levels of ash and stones then apply
to the period ca. 1628 BC.

As Petrie himself writes "These ashes were certainly spread by the
wind". "No deposit by hands could effect this, the stuff must have
been wind-borned, and dropped by the breeze without interference."
(p. 16)Lacking any better theory, however, Petrie tries to account
for them by the Bedawin (Bedouin) burning of plants for alkali
and "the charcoal layers...the result of the sparks and dust of the
burning, and the breaking up of the fires; while the white lime
layers were the dust blown about after the lixiviation had washed
away the alkali. The town must then have been deserted, or almost
so, at the time when the alkali burners resorted here, and when
their ashes blew about and settled undisturbed over a great part of
the hill."

What Petrie writes above is absolute nonsense of course, but Petrie
had to explain the layers of ash somehow.

Of course, after the event causing these layers of volcanic ash,
Tell el Hesy is deserted. Even more, as Petrie himself writes: "Now
this we see just corresponds to the great break in the history of

This "break in the history of Palestine" of course did not happen
because of plants being burned for alkali by nomads. This was the
great period of conflagration due to the explosion of Santorin, the
volcanic ash, the earthquakes, fire from the heavens, apparently
over several years. Petrie places the date for this layer of ash at
ca. 1300 BC but of course he has a ca. 300-year error. The year is
actually closer to 1628 BC.


4. Interestingly, Petrie's dating of the so-called "Amorite" comb-
face pottery on page 40 of his book as being ca. 1600 BC to ca. 1000
BC meshes exactly with my dating of the Phoenician levels at Tell El-
Hesy. Perhaps this was the influence of the Phoenicians on the
Amorites. It is Petrie's misdating of the Phoenicians - based on his
attempt to mesh historical data of Egypt with the erroneous
chronology of the Biblical Jews - which was his undoing. Indeed, it
has remained a great chronological problem down to this day.

The Dating of Tell el Hesy is thus correctly:

A. Top of mound - 340 feet above sea level = ca. 500 BC (Greek
pottery)(after several hundred years of dark ages - - Greek pottery
had surfaced ca. 700 BC)

B. Last Phoenician (comb-face) pottery - 325 feet above sea level =
ca. 1000 BC
This is the period of the invasion of the northern Sea Peoples who
came to the rescue of the Hebrews, but were turned back by Ramses
III = Biblical Shishak and the Assyrian Babylonians. This led to the
end of the Pharaohs and was the period of the Babylonian Captivity
of the Jews as well as the dark age in the fertile crescent - when
building of temples etc. ceased and much was destroyed.

C. Earliest Phoenician (comb-face) pottery - 305 feet above sea
level = ca. 1650 BC
This is the period of ca. 1628 BC, with earthquakes and the
explosion of the volcano Santorin on Thera - which was the period of
the Biblical Exodus, and also the period at which the Phoenicians
become prominent, probably through migration to escape natural
disasters. This is the period of the layer of stones and ashes at
Tell El Hesy.

D. Earliest dwellings at Tell el Hesy - 280 feet above sea level =
ca. 2500 BC
As Petrie notes, in the N.W. tower of Tell el Hesy, at level 295
feet above sea level (ca. 2000 BC by my corrected chronology of
Petrie's data), they found "a cylinder of coarse dull red haematite,
now weighing 142.3 grains, probably 144 originally; this is the
Egyptian kat weight. Several scraps of bronze were found, wire
armlets, hair-pins, a .knife, and a sheep bell; and some iron
fragments, a knife, and arrow-heads." This corresponds possibly to
the building of a fort by the Egyptians here in the 24th year of
reign under Amenemhet I ca. 2000 BC, who organized an expedition to
Gaza - the northeastern border of united Egypt at that time -
against the Asiatic desert dwellers. This corresponds to the
position of Lachish.

Does that above date of 2500 BC seem unusual?


5. Who were the Phoenicians?

The mark of a great man of science is not that he always right, but
rather that he recognizes the critical issues and adds new methods
and insights to knowledge, even if they are not perfect. No one is
right all the time.

My criticism of Petrie's erroneous chronology by no means should
take away from the greatness of his manifold achievements.

Also in his book on Tell el Hesy, Petrie shows the enormous breadth
of his interests and, in his discussion of the styles of masonry in
Palestine, points us toward a proper identification of the
mysterious Phoenicians

The Phoenicians are found referenced in Egyptian hieroglyphs of the
Middle Kingdom under the term FENEKHW, which of course is an Indo-
European term as in Latvian VEJNIEKI or VEJNIESHE "men of the wind",

The idea that the (Italian) sailing boat feluca derives from Arabic
fulk "ship" is incorrect. It is the other way around, since the root
is proto-Indo-European as in Latvian VEJ- "wind". Latin retains this
root in VELA "the sail" which is Latvian VELA "cloth, washing hung
up to dry - which resulted in the idea of a sail". In the north of
Europe these were probably the WENDs, people of the WIND. The terms
BRIT- and PRUS- as in Britain and Prussia (Borussia) thus probably
are related to the Latvian term BURAS "sails", which explains
another ancient term PRST for the "sea peoples"
found in ancient sources.

The Phoenicians of course are not in any manner the Palestinians -
as some claim, for these latter were not sailors but rather
landlocked desert marauders, who are otherwise the Hyksos of
history, or the Midianites of the Bible.

Petrie recognizes in his book on Tell el Hesy that the style of
stone dressing used by the Phoenicians was "flaking and pocking" -
i.e. flaking by heavy blows and then bruising down the surface with
a heavy pointed hammer - and that this style is found:

1) on the great monolith lying in the quarry in the Russian quarter
of Jerusalem
2) in the galleries called Solomon's Stables under the Haram
3) in the stone work of the temple at Hagir Kim in Malta
4) in the wrought stones at Stonehenge - Petrie writes "the best
examples of it are on the flat tops of the uprights of the great
And another curious formation occurs at Stonehenge as well as at
Hagir Kim; the edge of an upright is somewhat raised, so as to form
a sort of tray, and a corresponding cutting is made in the cap
stone. This is of course in addition to the rough tenons at
Stonehenge." (p. 36)

In other words, Petrie has observed the clear connection between the
megalithic cultures of old - certainly one of the first men ever to
do so.

The desert dwellers, i.e. Palestinians, had a different style of
masonry, found only in a few places since they were nomads and not
ordinarily settled peoples. This masonry style is identified by
Petrie, as "long-stroke picking" - done with an edge or point, with
no breadth of cut - and is seen on

1) the great blocks of the first building of the Beit el Khulil near
2) dressing of the wall at Tell Safi - which Petrie says is probably
the old Philistine fortress of Gath,
3) on the sandstone masonry and steps of Lachish ca. 700 BC, i.e.
after the Babylonian captivity and AFTER the days of the
Phoenicians, who were the Sea Peoples who had lost their seat of
power in the fertile crescent in the days of Ramses III, who was

Interesting is that Petrie regards Jewish style to be a mixture
which is neither pure Amorite [Arab] nor Phoenician, but which
consists of a mixture of characters of both peoples.


6. Ashdod, Ashkelon = Kadesh [Thick layer of ash also found here]

My redating of Tell el Hesy makes it relatively simple to also
correctly date ancient cities of the Near East in that same region
and correct some major errors of mainstream historical scholarship.

Here are the basic corrections
a. Ashdod was an ancient city on the "curve of the Mediterranean
Coast" at the Wadi Lakhish (similar to Indo-European e.g. Latvian
LIKS, LICIS "gulf") on a what was probably the northernmost border
of Ancient Egypt on a line running toward Lachish (Tell
el Hesy).

The levels of occupation at Ashdod show the same dating errors as
Tell el Hesy and are off by about 300 to 350 years. (Ashdod is
similar to Greek azotus and Latvian azotis meaning "bosom" [of the
Mediterranean], i.e. "gulf", curved part of the Mediterranean).

There is a very thick layer of ash at Ashdod at the level which
corresponds to the thick layer of ash at Tell el Hesy. This layer of
ash dates to ca. 1628 BC whereas mainstream scholars date that level
of ash erroneously to 1300-1200 BC (without the benefit of Petrie's
imagined "alkali burners" theory). Hence, all other levels at Ashdod
are correspondingly falsely dated.

It is only AFTER the volcanic eruption of Santorin that the
Philistines occupy the city, including the neighboring Ashkelon.

Indeed, ALL the cities Jericho, Debit (Tell Bet-Mirsim), Lachisch,
Bet-El, Gibeon and Hazor (Tell el Qedaz) were all destroyed by fire
and ash at the same time - and - as David Rohl has noted for Hazor,
this occurred at least a hundred years previous to any possible
destruction by the Israelites - in fact 300 years previous.

b. Scholars in the 20th century have erred in locating Lachish at
Tell ed-Duwer. Rather, Petrie already and correctly identified Tell
el Hesy in the 18th century as Lachish, i.e. La-cHish (cHish =
Hesy). Tell (k)ed-Duwer is in fact the Biblical site of Kadesh which
scholars have unsuccessfully and falsely tried to find in a
completely other region. KaDesh was later used as the "reference"
city for the battle in the Bible, and the battle here was a battle
for the northern border of Egypt. Indeed, there is strong evidence
of ancient military battle here, e.g. ancient Assyrian ramps have
been found at (k)ed Duwer, i.e. Kadesh.

c. At the time of King Ramses II (who was King Solomon - the battle
of Kadesh took place in the fifth year of his reign, 480 years after
Exodus - which is 1147 BC), and the winning of this battle is found
inscribed in the reliefs at Karnak, where the battle is said to have
been won for Eskarun which is similar to Indo-European e.g. Latvian
aizskarin "border, curtain". Assyrian sources refer to Eskarun as
Asqualuna and refer to it as a "region" with a definite BORDER, and
we retain this term as the historical city name Ashkelon on this

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