Re: Qayafa chronology and palaeography
- --- In ANEemail@example.com, BjÃ¶rn Lindborg <bjorn07se@...> wrote:
> It's interesting to note that the high and low schools in PalestineI received Radiocarbon volume 50:2 today, and went over the Mazar and Ramsey publication. That after going through most of the analysis published so far. It's absurd at best, both Finkelstein and Mazar use largely the same data and appear to reach opposite conclusions. It's a problem, but I think it can be solved.
> Iron Age chronology (Mazar and Bronk Ramsey vs. Sharon and Gilboa)
> arrive at their resp. positions by analysis of basically the same
> raw 14C dates.
> [I think the Radiocarbon article by Mazar and Bronk Ramsey (Vol.
> 50:2 pp. 159-180; August 2008) is not yet available on the web.]
Bayesian analysis is always problematic, because you need to be very careful about the assumptions you make in your models. They both use more or less the same models but varying datasets, but still - different models lead to different results.
There's also an information problem. Radiocarbon analysis has a lot of noise that makes pinpointing dates accurately a problem. While each new sample adds a little bit of information in that aspect, but clearly a lot more data is required to be able to zero in on the correct decade of the Iron I to Iron IIa shift.
This information problem leads to relatively unstable mathematical solutions. That's why changing just a few data points in the data sets causes apparant dramatic changes in the results.
But the real problem is none of the above. The real problem is that the models are all more or less right (because they're all very similar). The problem is interpreting the results:
If you look at the Mazar and Ramsey article mentioned above, in page 173 they have several graphs depicting the results of the four different Bayesian models they used on the data. The first row - the A models, is their attempt to reproduce Finkelstein's results. They succeeded. Look at the graph for model A2. It is quite obvious the 'one sigma interval' is somewhere between 950 and 920 BC, supporting the low chronology. However, in the same graph, the probability of the Iron I/IIa shift occuring somewhere BEFORE 975 BC is somewhere between 10% and 15% (it's hard to say exactly how much without running the model and looking at the number). So even Finkelstein's own analysis attributes a real non-neglible probability for the high chronology. While 70% is more than 10%, it doesn't prove the 10% are wrong.
It works the other way around, too. The bottom row contains graphs for Model D - one of the models that supports the high chronology according to the authors. There, the probability of the Iron I/IIa shift occuring after 950 BC seems to be around 25%.
So, if I got the jist, after a decade of crunching numbers and trying similar but different statistical models, everybody reaches the same conclusion - both chronologies are likely. I can't see which one is more likely based on the numbers I've seen, but even if one is a bit more likely than the other, it doesn't prove anything. At this point, statistics just can't help solve this debate.
- The material assemblage (primarily pottery) that I have seen from Kh. Qayafa has types that continue late Iron I types (but not all types and relatively few types typical of "Philistia" in the late Iron I), but at the same time, has various types that seem to indicate an early Iron IIA dating (but many typical types of the slightly later Iron IIA are missing). From what I have seen, the assemblage is different from contemporary assemblages in Philistia (e.g., Tell es-Safi/Gath) AND from the far too little we know from late Iron I/early Iron Age II Judah (such sites as Jerusalem/City of David [yes, there is this phase in Jerusalem, despite what is often written], Kh. Dewara, etc.).
Until more is published from the site, we can all talk ourselves blue in the face, each sticking to his/her own presuppositions.
And yes, to get good 14C dating (one can that "prove" or "disprove" this or that theory), one would need a series of stratigraphically-sequenced clusters of single year cultigens, all from extremely well-defined and secure contexts. Statistical manipulation is only secondary to this.
At times one get the feeling that we all suffer from: too little secure data - too much talk...
"Telling it at Gath" ...