Your antidote to cyber-twaddle and misguided research about the ancient world. Lots of people do research on the mysteries of antiquity. Some insights are valuable; others are insanely stupid. PaleoBabble exists because insisting that conclusions be drawn from data is a coherent idea, because conjecture isn’t evidence, and because appealing to conspiracy to validate ideas is intellectually lazy.Paleobabble RSS
Paleobabble Blog Entries
This is pretty cool – and it must have been a lot of work. If you use Google Earth and like ancient Near Eastern Studies, you wanted this yesterday.
For all you Egyptophiles out there, here’s an interesting project (and site) focused on the great hypostyle halls of the massive Karnak temple. It even has a tour!
A number of websites and blogs I subscribe published this bit of news today. The article from Salon.com is representative. The first paragraph reads:
A massive crescent-shaped stone structure has been discovered just a few miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Dating between 3050 B.C.E. and 2650 B.C.E., the monument is almost 500,000 cubic feet in volume and about 492 feet long. It seems hard to believe that such an enormous structure could have gone unidentified until now. In fact, archaeologists had assumed that the stone formation was part of a city wall; it wasn’t until Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found that there actually wasn’t a city beside the “wall,” that he realized it was a stand-alone monument.
Hopefully most readers realize that, according to biblical history (and “secular” history as well), the land we call Israel wasn’t always Israelite turf. This is only a shocker to those unfamiliar with biblical content.
Readers of my divine council material familiar with the “Deuteronomy 32 worldview” will find Wachtel’s argument interesting. The monument is dated to ca. 3000 BC. That puts it well before the time of Abraham. Abraham is, of course, the pivotal figure in biblical history. The Old Testament has Abraham as the father of Isaac (by divine intervention; see Genesis 12, 15, 18), who was the father of Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Israel was, as Deut. 32:8-9 (cp. Deut. 4:19-20) says, “Yahweh’s portion” of the nations of the world. Those two verses in Deuteronomy also say that, at the time of the Tower of Babel incident, the nations of the earth were disinherited by Yahweh and allotted to “the sons of God.”1 Consequently, it was only after the time of Abraham that the land we know as Israel was taken by Yahweh (Deut. 4:19-20) as his own.
The Mesopotamian context of the moon god Sin is also of interest with respect to Abraham (aka, Abram). The god Sin was securely associated with Harran (Akkadian: ḫarranu; ḥaran in the Old Testament).2 Biblical Haran was the place to which Terah (Abraham’s father) and his family (including Abram/Abraham) migrated from Ur.3 With all the above in mind, DDD’s brief comments on Sin are interesting:
The name Sîn (earlier Suen, Suin) survived in the Aramaic speaking world as the name of the moongod residing in Harran. This cult, already attested at the beginning of the second millennium in Mari, was promoted by Nabonidus who gave Sîn epithets such as ‘Lord/King of the Gods’, or even ‘God of Gods’ . . . . For this reason, the Aramaic name of the god Mrlhʾ (Marilahe, ‘Lord of the Gods’) has been identified with Sîn of Harran. Normally, the name of the moongod was Šah(a)r among the Aramaeans.
In Mesopotamia, the Sumerian and Babylonian moongod, Nanna/Sîn, was venerated everywhere, but Ur remained the centre of his cult.4
So, Yahweh, the God of the Bible and of Israel, took territory (Israel) from a foreign deity (Sin) who had been considered the god of gods — a decision in biblical history that was described in Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel (which obviously has a strong Mesopotamian context).
This is a cool example of archaeology coinciding with biblical messaging.
- Many English translations of the Bible will not have that reading. It comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The ESV and NRSV are two translations that incorporate the reading of the scrolls into their translation. The scrolls’ reading is the original reading of the Bible at this point. See my article on this subject for more details. ↩
- See “Haran,” Anchor Bible Dictionary. ↩
- I believe this Ur is not the one in southern Mesopotamia but Ura in northwest Mesopotamia, near Haran. See this post for more information. ↩
- M. Stol, “Sı̂n,” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. ↩
Finally – just checked the Kindle store and the newest edition of The Facade (new cover) is now available!
This edition is different from the older “Special edition” in a few ways:
1. It has a new (superior) cover.
2. The bibliographic information has been removed (for page count and cost-cutting reasons). The bibliographic data now lives here (link toward the bottom of the linked page).
I’ve blogged about the 19th century academic trend (one is tempted to call it a craze) referred to as Pan-Babylonianism before. In simplest terms, this was the era following the heels of the decipherment of cuneiform, which made the literature of the ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian civilizations accessible to scholars (and non-specialists). The impact was felt most quickly in biblical studies. It didn’t take too long for the notion that Hebrew writers of the Bible had appropriated their content from Mesopotamia. This perspective lost momentum after the late 1920s with the discovery of Ugaritic. Lo and behold, a lot of biblical material had closer parallels in Canaanite contexts (neighbors next door, not just in Mesopotamia).
The Old Testament shares parallels with ALL cultures of the ancient Near East. That’s no surprise since they all share the same regional geography and normative reasons for contact and cross-fertilization (war, trade, travel, etc.).
I’ve blogged a “non-scholarly” form of the article by Arnold and Weisberg linked herein,1 but wanted readers to have the more academic version. “Delitzsch in Context” focuses on the personality at the heart of the Pan-Babylonian trend, Assyriologist Franz Delitzsch. The essay begins this way:
This study, dedicated to Simon De Vries, is written in conjunction with a paper entitled ‘A Centennial Review of Friedrich Delitzsch’s “Babel und Bibel” Lectures’, presented at the November 2000 Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Nashville, by the authors. In the present paper, the authors propose to examine further two aspects of Delitzsch’s work:
1. What was the direct impact of ideas of German nationalism affecting Delitzsch at a time when he spoke before Emperor Wilhelm II? and
2. What were some of Friedrich Delitzsch’s Assyriological contributions as seen in their context of a century ago?
The essay is helpful for processing the era and the thinking. Or, with respect to this blog, an out of date resource pool for ancient astronaut theory (e.g., Zecharia Sitchin).
- “Babel und Bibel und Bias,” Bible Review 18.1 (2002), pp. 32–40. ↩
Jason Colavito as a lengthy summary of a recent “Unexplained Files” episode (apparently the Science Channel wants to a be the new Fantasy [er, History] Channel). The episode was on the so-called “Bosnian Pyramids.” They aren’t pyramids, and Jason’s review does a good job of sketching the problems (even getting debunked by “fringe” archaeologists).
In case you think I’m too hard on the Science Channel, think again. I’ve twice been asked to be in this show. Both times I sent the questioner this link to my fiasco experience with the History Channel. My request to these shows and the production crews that contact me is transparently simple: let me record the interviews as well and give me assurances *in writing* that you won’t edit me to make me say things I don’t believe. With that in writing and a parallel recording in hand, I’d sue the pants off them if they did that. They know that, and so I get a formulaic response about how TV doesn’t work that way, and that no show would let contributors have veto power over the final product. Translation: There’s no way we’ll give you any opportunity to defend yourself in the wake of a hack job.
The above is why I’m not on these shows. I tell readers all that to re-affirm a simple truth: shows like Ancient Aliens and Unexplained Files and other shows that promote paleobabble are not about revealing and dispensing truth. They are about getting viewers and making money through advertising. If they were interested in the truth, they *would* give content experts they invite to participate the opportunity to correct things — so they get it right. They don’t care about any of that. And if you believe what you’re watching, you’re just the kind of gullible viewer they chuckle about as the money pours in.
Heck, when a researcher for Ancient Aliens thinks the show is ridiculous, why do you believe the content?
If you want The Portent in hard copy (paperback), that’s available from Amazon.
If you want the book in Amazon’s Kindle format, click here.
I’d encourage you to try the Vyrso version. Vyrso is an eBook platform created by Logos Bible Software. The Portent for Vyrso is available here.
Kindle books can be read on a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire Tablet, Fire phone, or any device with a Kindle app. The main difference with Vyrso is that Vyrso is curated in ways that appeal to their inclusion within a biblical / theological library. Vyrso books are also tagged. For reasons you might want to start reading books on the Vyrso platform, click here.
I posted a link back in 2010 to an article I wrote for a scholarly journal on this topic — specifically, the syntax of John 9:3-4. The essay asked whether the Greek syntax of John 9:3-4 justifies the idea that Jesus endorsed the idea of reincarnation. I also wrote a short article on the topic that wasn’t publicly available. It was aimed at the lay person who has no background in Greek.
Today Bible Study Magazine posted that short article, so I bring it to the attention of readers. The article contains a footnote with a link to the Greek syntax article for those interested.
The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) is now available for free download. This resource of over 2 million place names includes ancient and modern names. It’s an invaluable resource for connecting place names throughout the ancient world to other disciplines. From the website:
What is TGN?
The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names is a resource of over 2,000,000 names of current and historical places, including cities, archaeological sites, nations, and physical features. It focuses mainly on places relevant to art, architecture, archaeology, art conservation, and related fields.
TGN is powerful for humanities research because of its linkages to the three other Getty vocabularies—the Union List of Artist Names, the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, and the Cultural Objects Name Authority. Together the vocabularies provide a suite of research resources covering a vast range of places, makers, objects, and artistic concepts. The work of three decades, the Getty vocabularies are living resources that continue to grow and improve. Because they serve as standard references for cataloguing, the Getty vocabularies are also the conduits through which data published by museums, archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions can find and connect to each other.
Just a quick note since I said I’d let everyone know. (Finally!)
Here’s the link.