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[ANE-2] Re: David and Solomon, Medes, Chaldeans

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  • Clark Whelton
    ... One could scarcely hope for more convincing textual indications that the Medes -- who are depicted in Persian iconography, as well -- actually existed.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2006
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      >Clark Whelton wrote:
      > So now we have Medes and Chaldeans attested to in Greek,
      >Babylonian and Assyrian records. With such an impressive
      >resume, shouldn't we expect to find impressive remains of
      >Medes and Chaldeans in the archaeological record?
      >How do we know what Babylonian and Assyrian writings tell us
      >is true? If their testimony about the Medes and Chaldeans is
      >accepted without archaeological confirmation, why should
      >anyone worry about a lack of archaeology for David and

      >John replied:
      >>>>>>>>>>But Clark, the Babylonian and Assyrian records were only accessed by archaeology, ao archaeological confirmation is "built in", as we have *contemporary* references to Medes and Chaldeans in both Babylonian and Assyrian records of that period.

      One could scarcely hope for more convincing textual indications that the Medes -- who are depicted in Persian iconography, as well -- actually existed. Nevertheless, there is an ephemeral quality to this empire. Briant (Daniels translation) discusses possible dynastic marriages between Media and Persia. But he cautions that information from Classical authors is "suspect" and that "evidentiary confusion" raises other doubts. He concludes that in most cases it is actually a "dynastic justification invented post eventum."

      Briant's discussion of possible Median loanwords in Persian is frustrated by "the plain and simple reason that we do not have a single inscription in that language. By reasoning that might be considered circular, Median has been reconstructed on the basis of Persian borrowings, themselves reconstructed."

      In his History of the Persian Empire, Olmstead writes: "Babylon revolted under the Chaldaeans, and Assyria fell to an alliance of Chaldaeans and Medes. There were now four great world powers." The more such references we have to Medes and Chaldeans, whether in ancient records or modern textbooks, the more puzzling it becomes that the material cultures of two "world powers" are missing from the archaeological record.

      John wrote:
      >>>>>>>> I am sure if we could find *contemporary* reference to David and Solomon in Egyptian, Assyrian or Babylonian archives, then the lack of actual archaeological support in
      Palestine could be set aside.

      Your point is well taken, but why set aside the question of missing archaeology for major powers anywhere in the ANE? The histories of David and Solomon are presented what seems like convincing detail. John is right that if references to these kings and details were to be found in the archives of other lands, it would -- by contemporary standards -- bring them under the umbrella of historicity that now shelters the Medes and Chaldeans.

      But why accept standards that allow major powers (and the Euphrates-to-Egypt description of David and Solomon's realm would, imho, qualify for that title) to exist on paper without having to go through all that bother of being confirmed by evidence in the ground?

      Clearly, something caused a gap between text and archaeology.

      A few possibilities ...

      1. The histories of these powers, like reports of Median-Persian marriages, were concocted "post eventum" to justify dynastic claims or for other (possibly religious) purposes.

      2. The historical accounts are essentially correct, but material evidence for the powers in question has not yet been excavated.

      3. The histories are essentially correct but the evidence has been mistakenly assigned to other powers.

      4. The histories were exaggerated (i.e. the Chaldeans were a priestly, scholarly clan, not a world power) for the same reason that Egyptian scribes exaggerated the antiquity of their land to Herodotus -- enhanced status in the hierarchy of ancient civilizations.

      Clark Whelton
      New York

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