Conclusive evidence against Rohl's proposed New Chronology

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An Assyrian chancellor's archive

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On top of the evidence already given in our previous articles 'Pharaohs and the Bible', and 'Rohl's new chronology does not accommodate the Philistines', we here present new proof that Rohl's chronology is really untenable.

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During excavations in the former Assyrian capital Assur a collection of clay tablets was found, which is known as 'archive 14410'. A large number of letters contained in the archive had been written by Babu-ahu-iddina, chancellor under the Assyrian kings Adad-nirari, Salmanassar and Tukulti-ninurta. The names however are inconclusive as to which king was meant. Several Assyrian kings used the same names. Historians and archaeologists therefore have added numbers to the royal names.

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We will provide proof that the kings named in archive 14410 were Adad-nirari I (1297-1265 B.C.), Salmanassar I (1265-1235 B.C.) and Tukulti-ninurta I (1235-1198 B.C.), i.e. father, son, and grandson, respectively.

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The letters of chancelor Babu-ahu-iddina refer to 14 eponyms, high officials whose names were used in the Assyrian annals to identify particular years. The eponyms in question include some that coincided with a king named Adad-nirari, others that were contemporaries of a king Salmanassar, and still others from the days of a king Tukulti-ninurta.

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Adad-nirari II (912-891 B.C.) was succeeded by Tukulti-ninurta II (891-884 B.C.), and in 859 B.C. Salmanassar III (859-824 B.C) started to reign. One letter from archive 14410 refers to an eponym Abi-ilu and a prince Tukulti-ninurta. Assur-damiq, son of Abi-ilu, is referred to on Assur stela 96. He was an eponym under a king Salmanassar.1 An eponym of this name is not known from the reign of Salmanassar III. It was only after seven generations following on Salmanassar II that another Assyrian king by the name of Tukulti-ninurta (II) came into power. Also Babu-ahu-iddina cannot possibly have lived in the time of Salmanassar II and Tukulti-ninurta II. This implies that Babu-ahu-iddina lived during Salmanassar I as did Assurdamiq.

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In addition the archive refers to an eponym Lullayau, who lived during a king Tukulti-ninurta. No eponym of that name occurred during the reign of Tukulti-ninurta II, so the man must have been in office under the first king of that name.2

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There can be no other conclusion: Babu-ahu-iddina started his official career in the last years of Adad-nirari I, and he must still have been a chancellor in the first years of Tukulti-ninurta I.

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Draft letters from Hattusas

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In Hattusas, the former Hittite capital, drafts of letters have been found that were written by the Hittite king Hattusilis III or his son Tuthalyas IV to Babu-ahu-iddina (KUB XXIII, 92 and KUB XXIII, 103).3 This means that the three Assyrian kings mentioned above were contemporaries of the kings Hattusilis III and Tuthalyas IV.

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In Rohl's chronology Hattusilis III ruled from about 925 to 859 B.C. and his son Tuthalyas IV from 895 to 880 B.C., as a consequence of Rohl's dating Ramesses II some 350 years later (i.e. 932-866 B.C.) than is generally accepted. Since Ramesses II corresponded with Hattusilis, the latter's reign and that of his son would have to be moved 350 years too. As Babu-ahu-iddina was a high Assyrian official under Adad-nirari I, Salmanassar I and Tukulti-ninurta I, the datings of these kings must be moved 350 years onwards as well. They would have reigned, then, from about 950 to 850 B.C.. During these period however other Assyrian kings were in power: Adad-nirari II, Tukulti-ninurta II and Salmanassar III, respectively, whose datings are firmly established. They cannot possibly be identified with the previous three kings under whose reigns the eponyms mentioned were in office.

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Conclusion

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In David Rohl's proposed new chronology Adad-nirari I, Salmanassar I and Tukulti-ninurta I of Assyria, together with the Hittite kings Hattusilis III and Tuthalyas IV, would have lived between about 950 and 850 B.C. This cannot be correct, however, since Assyria was ruled by other kings during that period. Letters from Babu-ahu-iddina, a chancellor under the above named three Assyrian kings, and drafts of letters written to him by the above Hittite kings prove this. Therefore, Rohl's proposed chronology cannot possibly be correct.

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J.G. van der Land

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NOTES

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1. E. Weidner, 'Der Kanzler Salmanassars I.', Archiv für Orientforschung 19, 1959/1960, p. 33.

2. Idem, p. 34.

3. H. Otten, Ein Brief aus Hattusa an Babu-ahu-iddina, Archiv für Orientforschung 19, 1959/1960, p. 39-46.

Latest update: april 17 2019