Middle Bronze Age Chronology: The View freom the Mesopotamian Hinterland (Abstract)


Joan Goodnick Westenholz

Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem


The chronological controversies regarding the absolute and relative dating of the Mesopotamian history have been long and intense. In particular, the discussion has been renewed in the past decade and a half so that presently, it includes not only the three basic high, middle and low chronologies but also a super high and an ultra low. In other words, a time distance of 250 years separate the various views of the dating of historical events in Mesopotamia in the first half of the second millennium. In the present talk, I reviewed the astronomical calculations, historical records, and archaeological evidence and analyzed the new approaches to this documentation.

            The most recent reappraisal of second millennium chronology was done by a joint Ghent-Chicago-Harvard team under the leadership of H. Gasche (Dating the Fall of Babylon, 1998). Their basic premise is that the gap in the evidence concerning the time span from 1600 to 1400 (according to the most used Middle Chronology) is a prori improbable. Their methodology included a strong reliance on a theoretical progressive pottery seriation in the absence of any stratigraphical sequence at any archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia.  The conclusion of their argumentation is that the fall of Babylon should be dated to 1499 B.C.E.