Assyria and the New Chronology

 

Chronology is the backbone of history.

Assyrian chronology is the backbone of Ancient Near Eeastern history.

 

David Rohl has proposed a radical 'New Chronlogy' of ancient Egypt, moving events some centuries later. This has prompted many people to look further into the question of ancient chronology and how it is constructed.

 

Rohl is neither the first, nor the only person to propose revision of Egyptian dates. Less well known are repeated attempts by other scholars to modify Egyptian chronology. A number of scholarly papers have been published in peer reviewed journals proposing the removal of several different portions of the conventional Egyptian timeline. (see Links page for some of these).

 

However until the publication of Chronology at the Crossroads there was no workable proposal to harmonize any sizable Egyptian revision with the seemingly continuous line of Assyrian kings back to 1400 or so years BC. In this book Bernard Newgrosh

  • rehearses the historical anomalies of the current dating scheme

  • breaks the conventional link between Egyptian and Assyrian history by placing the Amarna Letters at the time of a much later Assyrian king

  • reveals how 140 years of Assyrian history were accidentally duplicated in the Assyrian King List, creating the Middle Assyrian Dark Age

  • places the Hittites, Hurrians, Babylonians in their new historical context

  • provides a chronicle of events in this new chronological setting

  • gives the first comprehensive list of synchronisms which any serious historical understanding must observe, and asserts that his new scheme satisfies more of these than any previous chronological framework.

 

Newgrosh's reconstruction has been arrived at independently of Rohl's New Chronology, yet agrees closely with it. This very surprising result appears to have prompted critics to reject his thesis prematurely. His argument actually consists of separate elements which should each be appraised on their own merits:

  • If it is no longer tenable to see Ashur-uballit I as the author of two Amarna Letters, EA15 & 16, when should the Amarna Ashur-uballit be placed?

  • If Assur-nirari (IV) never existed, then how much time should properly be removed from the span of the Assyrian King List?

The particular answers that Newgrosh gives to these key questions produce a workable historical picture (like it or not!).

But it is conceivable that other scholars may come up with different answers resulting in a greater or less total revision.