Re: SV: SV: [ANE-2] Re: Was Dan "in ships", or "complacent"?
- Dear Niels Peter,
Happy those able to calculate populations. My experience, but again ,
I am just an
Israeli linguist and literary person, is that even simply counting
existing data, is not
easy. By the way, according to archeological method, different
entail different proportions of population.
The world of David as narrated is not very fairy, and as you seem to
entirely unimperial. But the truth (the literary truth, that is, the
represented narrative world) is worse. The Absalom narrative implies
that D had
n o g a r r i s o n s . And worse than worse, when threatened, he
l e a v e s t h e r o y a l r e s i d e n c e ,
to make to Mahanayim with a few centurions (sit venium in cauda;
would he have had a garrison over there, in view of the eastern
front, or some loyal remainder?).
We indeed are down to the EA numbers.
Thus the implied picture of the narrative world is not only unlike a
but it is plainly contrary to that picture.
We can look at Ps 72, and some sundry texts in praise of Solomon, but
(a) cannot erase the picture arising from other texts, (b) should not
function as corner stone
for a historical discussion.
As far as I can judge, but again , I am just an
Israeli linguist and literary person, the represented narrative world of
D and S is quite in agreement with many of the findings of the new
if we would just find it in their heart to pay some attention to the
texts they are
Sorry to bother you, and best regards,
On Jul 1, 2008, at 9:06 AM, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
> Dear Frank,
> Quite an interesting question. And there is much in favor of your
> position. Take, e.g., administration and the list of royal
> officers, hardly the kind of administration to rule an empire. I
> once heard Kitchen saying something very sensible, at an IOSOT
> meeting many years ago. It was about the riches of Solomon.
> Compared to actual information from the Egypt contemporary with
> Solomon, it was nothing, absolutely nothing. Even a biblical writer
> indicating a great king in Jerusalem would have no idea about what
> real wealth is. Kitchen of course believed it to be historical.
> However, are we in the world of fairy-tales, like in Genesis when
> Abraham meets Pharaoh face to face?
> I once made a calculation about the size of Jerusalem in the 10th
> century if there at all was one. Came down to a population of less
> than 2000 people, which would with an average of about six persons
> in a family (calculation building on numbers from espec. Alalakh)
> say that there would have been about 200 grown up men at the most.
> We are down to numbers such as those found in the Amarna letters.
> Another key is the general opinion, expressed as I remember it by,
> e.g. Liverani, that the capital in those days would embrace, say
> 10% (or correct me if it is 20%) of the total population. These
> figure comes from Syria (I believe that I found it in a piece of
> Liverani about Ugarit) -- Marc Cooper and Robert Whiting might know
> better -- saying that the king in Jerusalem might have had c.
> 20.000 subjects, and about 2000 men at his disposal. Yes it is
> small scale.
> Whether or not it is a Victorian empire is another question. There
> are at least quite a few texts in the OT speaking about Solomon as
> the great ruler of the world, as Ps 72. Again, the real trust of
> your argument is that the authors hardly knew what that meant.
> The biblical idea of Solomon ruling also Tadmor (I know, hardly
> anything to do with history) also says that there in these texts in
> some way or the other is a feeling of David's and Solomon's kingdom
> as great.
> Niels Peter Lemche
> -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
> Fra: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:ANEemail@example.com] På vegne
> af Frank Polak
> Sendt: 1. juli 2008 07:27
> Til: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org
> Emne: Re: SV: [ANE-2] Re: Was Dan "in ships", or "complacent"?
> Dear Niels Peter,
> Many thanks for this very clarifying message.
> When you read into the HebB a description of David as 'a great
> imperial king,'
> you are just projecting a Bourbon/Napoleontic, Georgian/Victorian,
> Wilhelminian image into the Hebrew narrative. So D had a kingdom from
> Dan to
> Beersheba. So what? Thessalia (or the Pelopponesos) would have been
> larger, i think, or at least comparable.
> So D conquered Rabbat Ammon and even Moab and Edom. We still are
> talking about a petty kingdom! So he defeated an Aramean expedition
> force. The very fact that the HebB narrator
> considers these acts as major achievements should stand as a grave
> Let us consider two other HebB data: Solomon unable to pay the king
> of Tyre
> for the building of his palace and chapel (something smaller than a
> Dutch village church,
> as Martien Beek was careful to explain to us in our first year), and
> unable to deal with a Sar Gdud in
> O yes, and D's son fleeing to Geshur, east of the Kinneret (between
> Hatzor and Damascus), and feeling safe there for three years.
> Imperial? I ask you!
> So there are some singular verses (some of them lacking
> representation in LXX) that project a more imperial picture, but the
> overall narrative disproves this picture unequivocally. In my view,
> beingjust an Israeli linguist and literary person with some knowledge
> of a few
> Near Eastern and mediterranean ancient and modern languages and a lot
> of Marx, any critical reading would discard that picture within a
> couple of minutes.
> The misreading was created by the Christian theologians at the
> service of the
> Bourbon/Napoleontic, Georgian/Victorian, Friederician/
> Wilhelminian (I forgot Josephinian) empires/delusions. Davids kingdom
> had to equal theirs, or at least the 'Holy Roman Empire.' Mazar and
> some other modern historians
> just inherited this picture.
> By the way, since when is the extent of the royal residence (please,
> spare me the
> notion of 'capital,' we are not dealing with Rome) indicative of the
> power of a kingdom?
> And since when have archeologists dealt with the extent of that
> Best regards,
> Frank Polak
- At 03:40 PM 7/3/2008, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
>Ariel,I don't know what "traditional" means in this context.
>We are talking about a traditional society with traditional health
>care. And a death rate among children of, say between 50 and 90%.
We know that human biology results in exponential growth (aka
Malthusian) in "ideal" reproductive conditions (both environmental
and social). I seem to recall that for humans the yearly growth rate
figure (in ideal conditions) is somewhat above 5%. We also have hard
data about populations in the present and near past which can be used
to create models.
And everything we know indicates that "static populations" are either
a myth or extremely rare exceptions. When I first looked into how ANE
population estimates were done (and was shocked), "common wisdom" had
it that static populations could exist in primitive societies, e.g.
the Amazonian tribes - but then the towns/cities in the Xingu region
were discovered making these "stable size" societies something
I haven't seen anything that supports single-number population
estimates for historical periods (i.e. more than one or two
generations) being meaningful. All that I've seen (and to a certain
degree researched) indicates that such numbers are simply pseudo-science.
Note that archeological population estimates are different. They are
based on material evidence from which a carrying capacity is
calculated - i.e. a number that represents the maximal, or sometimes
optimal, number of people that could be supported by the physical
evidence that was discovered. I have many misgivings about specific
archeological ANE population calculations I have seen, but at least
the numbers, correct or not, are meaningful. But these capacity
numbers become meaningless when they are turned into historical
population numbers representing a century or more.
Note also that mathematical averages are of course possible. The
general process seem to be "sawtooth" like. I.e. an exponential
growth (aka geometric, as opposed to linear growth) followed by a
steep decline. These numbers can be averaged, but such averages
remove the "sawtooth" aspect, making them practically meaningless
from an historical point of view.
I don't have quick access to my notes from back then, but a quick web
search shows that the resources available online today on this
subject are huge, and anyone interested can find a lot with just few
Instead, two quick examples.
Does "the medieval population of Europe was X" have an historical
meaning? It was thought so when I was in school, but check:
It's the growth/decline processes that have historical meanings, not
some number for the entire period (or some sub period).
And re tradition ...
The understanding of the sawtooth aspect of historical population
sizes is far from new, and indeed "traditional" :)
2 Samuel 24:9 [KJV]: "And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the
people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand
valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five
hundred thousand men."
2 Samuel 24:13 [KJV]: "... shall seven years of famine come unto thee
in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies,
while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in
thy land? ..."
1.3 million "arm bearers" implies a general population of about 3-4
million. Has "greater Canaan" a "carrying capacity" of 3-4 million
people, given the 10th cbc material culture? My personal opinion is
that it does, but that's beyond the scope of this message. However,
wether the numbers are correct or not, this passage shows an
understanding of the process and lists three of the most common
causes for the decline part in the sawtooth (climate/environment, war
and plague, with the 4th being emigration) with their associated
(very steep) rates of decline.
Personal note - what an amazing book. [And in case anyone wonders,
I'm an atheist]
>Furthermore, I do not care if the numbers can be corrected, as longI don't understand the above.
>as the way they are calculated remains the same. We can also discuss
>the way of calculating numbers. No problem.
What I'm trying to say is that while "carrying capacity" is a
meaningful number, representing the population during an historical
period (more than 1-2 generations) by a single number is not.
If I recall correctly, a population growth rate of below 1% per year
(a number that includes everything - births, deaths, arrivals &
departures) is considered to be temporary (leading either to a
quicker rate or to a decline). In real-life conditions rates above 2%
per year are considered "quick". So let's see what happens in this
range for a large village of 1000 people during a century (rounding to tens).
1% growth rate:
25 years - 1280. 50 years - 1640. 75 years - 2110. 100 years - 2700.
1.5% growth rate:
25 years - 1450. 50 years - 2110. 75 years - 3050. 100 years - 4430.
2% growth rate:
25 years - 1640. 50 years - 2690. 75 years - 4420. 100 years - 7240.
I.e. a difference of 1% in the growth rate results in a difference of
almost 270% in the size of the population after 100 years. That
difference grows to 720% after 200 years, 1920% after 300 years and so on.
These numbers have historical implications. E.g. if the calculated
carrying capacity is 2000 people, you know that whatever the growth
rate was, there was an historical event, at least one, that dropped
the population level during that period. If the calculated carrying
capacity is 10000 but you have no archeological evidence of the
village becoming a town, you again can infer an historical event. Etc.
And while growth rates and carrying capacities are meaningful
numbers, determining them for specific locations or areas, in
specific time periods, is far from trivial. And as the example above
shows, choosing the wrong growth rate to model some historical
period, wrong by a fraction of a percent, can result in computed
populations sizes that are very far from the historical ones.
For example, we know that Pontius Pilate had water brought to
Jerusalem from springs near Hebron. Was it because the carrying
capacity of the local water resources was reached, or was it because
of a lifestyle that increased the quantity of water needed per
person? Can the volume of the local water resources be evaluated for
that period? What is local in that respect? Herod could have had mule
trains bring water from nearer springs, e.g. Ein Yahel, Ein Karem,
Abu Gosh, etc. And if these can be answered - can a number
representing a yearly volume of water be translated into a number of people?
Why water? because I think that it's safe to assume that food was not
a factor in determining the carrying capacity of Jerusalem during the
Herod or Pontius Pilate reigns. Why this period (which is short
enough for a population size to have meaning)? Because of all the
estimates that floated around during the Talpiot Tomb fiasco. If an
argument could be made that the water carrying capacity of Jerusalem
was reached during Pontius Pilate's reign, and if that could lead to
a "water volume into number of people" calculation, then maybe we'd
have a figure with some reasonable likelihood.
Population estimates are not my thing, though I was sidetracked into
them at one time. So I'm off this topic. The moral for me was to
ignore population sizes for historical periods as meaningless, and
not to accept carrying capacity or growth rate figures without
checking carefully how they were reached. YMMV.
[100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]
Ariel L. Szczupak
AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91406
Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203