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Ages in Chaos book cover

Ages in Chaos is a book by the controversial writer Immanuel Velikovsky, first published by Doubleday in 1952, which put forward a major revision of the history of the Ancient Near East. Velikovsky had put forward his ideas briefly in Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History in 1945, but Ages in Chaos was his first full-length work on the subject.

A second volume was due for publication shortly after this but was postponed. Instead it was followed eight years later by Oedipus and Akhnaton. In the last two years of his life Velikovsky published a further two works on ancient history: Peoples of the Sea and Rameses II and His Time. At the time of his death he considered that completing his reconstruction of ancient history would require a further two volumes: The Assyrian Conquest and The Dark Age of Greece; these were never published in English, but the manuscripts have long been available online at the Velikovsky archive. [1]

Velikovsky claimed in Ages in Chaos that the histories of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Israel are five centuries out of step. His starting point was that the Exodus took place not, as orthodoxy has it, at some point during the Egyptian New Kingdom, but at the fall of the Middle Kingdom. Velikovsky made heavy use in this and later works on ancient history of the concept of "ghost doubles": historical figures who were known by different names in two different sources (e.g. Egyptian and Greek) and were conventionally considered to be entirely different people living in different centuries, but who he proposed to be actually erroneously dated accounts of the same individuals and events.

Velikovsky's work has been harshly criticised, including by fellow chronological revisionists such as Peter James. In 1984 fringe science expert Henry H. Bauer wrote Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, which Time described as "the definitive treatise debunking Immanuel Velikovsky".[2]

Contents

Chronological proposals

Velikovsky made a number of specific proposals in Ages in Chaos and his later works on ancient history.

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Ages in Chaos

In Chapter 1, Velikovsky synchronised the Ipuwer Papyrus, from the beginning of Egypt's Second Intermediate Period, with the Biblical Exodus. The Ipuwer Papyrus was conventionally dated to approximately 350 years before the conventional date of the Exodus (1450 BCE). He identified Tutimaios as the Pharaoh of the Exodus (much earlier than any of the mainstream candidates).

In Chapter 2, he identified the Hyksos with the biblical Amalekites.

In Chapter 3 he identified the Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut with the Biblical Queen of Sheba and the land of Punt with Solomon's kingdom.

In Chapter 4 he identified the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III with the Biblical King Shishaq who sacked Jerusalem.

In Chapters 6 to 8, he states that the Egyptian Amarna letters from the late 18th Dynasty describe events from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, from roughly the time of King Ahab.

Oedipus and Akhnaton

In Oedipus and Akhnaton Velikovsky states that the story of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton was the origin of the Greek legend of Oedipus, and that Amenophis III was Laius, and Tutankhamun was Eteocles.

The Assyrian Conquest

In The Assyrian Conquest Velikovsky separated Horemheb and the 19th Dynasty pharaohs from the earlier 18th dynasty pharaohs. Instead, he had the 22nd through 25th dynasties follow upon the earlier part of the 18th, leading down to the Assyrian invasions of the early 7th century BCE.

Rameses II and His Time

Statue of Rameses III in Luxor.

In Rameses II and His Time, Velikovsky identified each of the major 19th dynasty pharaohs with a corresponding pharaoh of the 26th dynasty. Thus, Rameses I becomes Necho I, Seti I becomes Psamtik I, Rameses II is Necho II, and Merneptah is Apries. In order to make these identifications work, Velikovsky claims that the Hittite Empire is an invention of modern historians, and the supposedly Hittite archaeological remains in modern Turkey are actually Chaldean i.e. Neo-Babylonian. The Hittite kings are held to be "ghost doubles" of the Neo-Babylonian kings, and therefore Rameses II's battle with the Hittites at Kadesh is identical to Necho's fight against Nebuchadrezzar II at Carchemish, Nabopolassar is Mursili II, Neriglissar is Muwatalli, Labashi-Marduk is Urhi-Teshup, and Nebuchadrezzar II is Hattusili III.

Peoples of the Sea

Having arrived at the Persian conquest, Velikovsky now has the problem of fitting in Manetho's 20th and 21st dynasties. The 20th dynasty here becomes identified with the dynasties which ruled a newly independent Egypt in the early 4th century BCE, and Nectanebo I is a "ghost double" of Rameses III. Rameses fought invasions by Sea Peoples, including the "Peleset", conventionally identified with the Philistines. According to Velikovsky, the "Peleset" are actually the Persians and the other Sea Peoples are their Greek mercenaries. The 21st dynasty then becomes a line of priest-kings who ruled in the oases simultaneously with the Persians.

Controversy and criticism

Velikovsky's revised chronology has been rejected by nearly all mainstream historians and Egyptologists. It was claimed, starting with early reviewers, that Velikovsky's usage of material for proof is often very selective.[3][4][5] In 1965 the leading cuneiformist Abraham Sachs, in a forum at Brown University, discredited Velikovsky's use of Mesopotamian cuneiform sources.[6] Velikovsky was never able to refute Sachs' attack.[7] In 1978, following the much-postponed publication of further volumes in Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos series, the United Kingdom-based Society for Interdisciplinary Studies organised a conference in Glasgow specifically to debate the revised chronology.[8] The ultimate conclusion of this work, by scholars including Peter James, John Bimson, Geoffrey Gammonn, and David Rohl, was that the Revised Chronology was untenable.[9]

While James credits Velikovsky with "point[ing] the way to a solution by challenging Egyptian chronology", he severely criticised the contents of Velikovsky's chronology as "disastrously extreme", producing "a rash of new problems far more severe than those it hoped to solve" and demonstrating that "Velikovsky understood little of archaeology and nothing of stratigraphy."[10]

Emmett Sweeney has published works supporting the Velikovsky's chronology, but these, too, have not found mainstream acceptance.[11]

References

  1. ^ The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive
  2. ^ Michael D. Lemonick/Gainesville (2005-05-24). "Science on the Fringe". Time magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1064461-2,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  3. ^ Albright, William 1952. New York Herald Tribune Book Review April 20. Retelling the Near East's Ancient History. p. 6.
  4. ^ Kaempffert, Waldemar 1952. New York Times Book Review April 20. Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Egypt of Exodus. p. 23.
  5. ^ Stiebing, Jr., William H. 1984. Cosmic Catastrophism, Chap. III, in Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions Prometheus Books. ISBN 0879752602. pp. 57-80.
  6. ^ see transcript in Aeon 1992, Vol.3 No.1, pp.103-5, and also http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/vsachs.html
  7. ^ Ellenberger, Leroy 1992. Aeon 3 (1), section "Bonanza from Brown" in "Of Lessons, Legacies, and Litmus Tests: A Velikovsky Potpourri (Part One)", pp. 88-90. "Velikovsky confronted a panel of four professors [at Brown University on March 15, 1965]: Leon N. Cooper (physics), Bruno J Giletti (geology), Charles Smiley (astronomy) and Abraham J. Sachs (history of mathematics) [who was substituting for Otto Neugebauer ], moderated by Henry Kucera (linguistics). In the event, Velikovsky debated the first three handily. He was stunned by Sachs whose address was both a rhetorical and substantive tour de force. Velikovsky's rebuttal began: 'Dr. Sachs threw so many accusations in thatPhilippic of his that I am at a difficulty to answer; but I invite Dr. Sachs to spend the hour and a half tomorrow at the meeting [at Diman House], and every one of you too, and point by point each of his statements will be proven wrong.' Unfortunately, Sachs did not show up the next day and Velikovsky did not even mention Sachs [according to the tape recording of the proceedings in the possession of Warner B. Sizemore who loaned it to Ellenberger March 31, 1979]. Curiously, Velikovsky's file for the Brown trip contains typed rebuttals to all the panelists except Sachs, for whom only partial, penciled notes exist--but later that year Velikovsky would reply to Kim J. Masters, a Princeton sophomore, within a week in The Daily Princetonian (Nov. 15, 1965) over a criticism of Oedipus and Akhnaton. Velikovsky's rebuttal to Masters was scathing, running the gamut from haggling over details to ad hominems.
  8. ^ "Ages in Chaos?'-Proceedings of the Residential Weekend Conference, Glasgow, 7th-9th April 1978" Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Review Vol. VI, issue 1/2/3 84pp (1982)
  9. ^ Bimson, "Finding the Limits of Chronological Revision" in "Proceedings of the SIS Conference: Ages Still in Chaos" Chronology & Catastrophism Review 2003
  10. ^ http://www.centuries.co.uk/preface.htm The Preface from Centuries of Darkness Peter James
  11. ^ Sweeney, Emmett (1997) The Genesis of Israel and Egypt, Janus; (2006) Empire of Thebes or Ages in Chaos Revisited (Ages in Alignment Series), Algora; (2007) The Pyramid Age (Ages in Alignment Series) Algora

Further reading


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