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Undoubtedly, one of the hottest topics in the field of OT biblical studies in recent years is the dating of the Exodus.[1] Essentially, there are two prevailing positions: the early Exodus view, which contends that the Israelite Exodus transpired during the middle of the 15th century BC, and the late Exodus view, which purports that the Israelites actually left Egypt nearly 200 years later, during the 13th century BC.On the side of the latter view, biblical archaeologists such as James Hoffmeier contend that a 13th century BC Exodus better fits the material evidence, in large part due to alleged connections between sites mentioned in the biblical text—such as the store-city of Raamses (Exod ), which he asserts “is likely to be equated with the Delta capital built by and named for Ramesses II, that is, Pi-Ramesses”[2]—and excavated or identifiable sites in Egypt.Continue reading On the side of the former view, biblical archaeologists such as Bryant Wood argue that the Exodus must have occurred in the middle of the 15th century BC, since the ordinal number “480th” in 1 Kgs 6:1 only can be understood literally (contra allegorically, as late-Exodus proponents suggest).Wood, who mainly presents archaeological evidence to support his case, even declares that “the 13th-century Exodus-Conquest model is no longer tenable.”[While this debate cannot be settled in the present article, nor can space be devoted here to the issue of the alleged Ramesside connections with the store-city of Raamses or the problem of archaeology not being able to “provide any trace of Israelites [in Canaan] before the Iron Age (shortly before 1200 B. E.),”[ an examination of one aspect of this issue is in order: namely, the destruction of Hazor that is recorded in Joshua 11.The intentional nature of the desecration of these statues and vessels is clear: “This was a systematic annihilation campaign, against the very physical symbols of the royal ideology and its loci of ritual legitimation.” Moreover, Yadin went as far as to make a connection between this particular destruction and the text of Joshua 11: “This destruction is doubtless to be ascribed to the Israelite tribes, as related in the Book of Joshua.”In Sharon Zuckerman’s wonderful article that whets the appetite of all those awaiting the disclosure of Canaanite Hazor’s cuneiform archive(s), she challenges the notion that the Israelites were the actual culprits behind the destruction of the final Canaanite city of the Late Bronze Age, arguing that an internal revolt instead led to the city’s annihilation.This long-time senior staff member at the Hazor excavations suggests that Hazorite rulers and elites enforced a dominant ideology, which the populace contested, resisted, and ultimately revolted against due to the political and religious impositions.This includes both the monumental cultic edifices and the administrative palatial buildings, all of which served as the foci of religious and civil power and wealth at the height of Canaanite Hazor in the 13th century BC.

The biblical text requires that the former is true, while archaeology requires that the latter is true.Ancient Hazor consisted of a large, rectangular lower city (170 acres) and a bottle-shaped upper city (30 acres), essentially an elongated mound called a tel, which rises about 40 m. Yigael Yadin, the archaeologist who excavated at Hazor from 1955–19–1969, documented the great conflagration that accompanied the total destruction of the final Late Bronze Age city, which he believed to have occurred by Evidence of this destruction consists of layers of ashes, burnt wooden beams, cracked basaltic slabs, mutilated basaltic statues, and fallen walls.Yadin’s findings in the lower city confirm that public structures such as the Orthostats Temple and the Stelae Temple were violently destroyed, while the renewed excavations in the upper city—under current excavator Amnon Ben-Tor—corroborate the existence of a fierce conflagration that also is mostly limited to public buildings.While she notes that the other of the two possible explanations for the destruction is military conquest, she completely rules out this option because “there is no archaeological evidence of warfare, such as human victims or weapons, anywhere in the site.” Zuckerman’s theory aside, most maximalistic archaeologists and conservative biblical scholars attribute this destruction to the Israelites, mainly due to the “intentional desecration of shrines and cultic objects,” including decapitation and the severing of the hands of the cultic figures and idols, which is considered “a practice unique to Israel.” However, Hoffmeier refuses to assign this Israelite destruction to Deborah and Barak, objecting that Wood invented an attack on Hazor not claimed in the text (Judg 4).

The matter that will be discussed here, however, is whether these destructions are distinct or one and the same.This study may go a long way toward determining whether or not the Exodus and Conquest transpired in the 13th century BC..

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