Skip to comments.Ancient Chronography, Eratosthenes and the Dating of the Fall of Troy [abstract]
Posted on 07/14/2010 5:28:39 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Through close scrutiny of the surviving fragments of ancient chronography, it is possible to work out the way Eratosthenes, in his lost Chronographiai (ca. 220 BC), arrived at his date for the Fall of Troy (1183 BC) -- a 'universal' reference point in antiquity. By combining new information from Manetho, with Timaeus, Ctesias, Herodotus and other sources, he devised a compromise chronology for the Greek past: 'high' enough to satisfy Hellenistic cultural interests, and 'low' enough to satisfy Alexandrian critical scholarship.What was reckoned originally to be an event of the 10th century BC, and later raised as far as the 14th century BC in competition with the older eastern civilisations, ended 'appropriately' being placed half-way in the 12th century BC. Surprisingly, this date, the mechanics of which were previously not fully understood, ultimately played a misleading role in the modern debate of the Greek archaeological 'Dark Age'. [Kokkinos, N., 2009b. "Ancient Chronography, Eratosthenes and the Dating of the Fall of Troy", Ancient West and East 8, 37-56.]
(Excerpt) Read more at centuries.co.uk ...
In early April a long-awaited paper by Nikos Kokkinos was published: "Ancient Chronography, Eratosthenes and the Dating of the Fall of Troy", in Ancient West and East 8 (2009), pp. 37-56. It argues that the 'original' date for the Trojan War reckoned by the earliest Greek chronographers was c. 940 BC, not c. 1200 BC (or variants slightly higher and lower) as offered by later writers. The article includes an important Appendix (pp. 49-51) discussing how an ancient Greek 'high' estimate for the Trojan War (by Timaeus of Tauromenium) influenced the chronology of the Hellenised Egyptian writer Manetho in drawing up his chronology for Egypt. Manetho's dating system came to form the backbone of the modern reconstruction of Egyptian history and thence for Mycenaean pottery and the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean, including Troy. So, in marvellously circular fashion (and not by a 'happy coincidence'), an ancient Greek 'high' estimate was returned to Greece by Egyptologists (such as Flinders Petrie), helping to create the archaeological Dark Age in the Aegean. Future articles by Nikos, as part of the continuing CoD Ancient Chronography Review, will discuss further the 'low' chronology that was current in the ancient world, all too often overlooked by classicists. The earliest known depiction of the Trojan Horse: detail from the neck of a Cycladic relief-amphora found on Mykonos (conventional date ca. mid-7th century BC).
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Wow! I would have never known.
It has been over 40 years since I read the Iliad. Does Homer ever give any time frame for the war? I know he was proven correct in his location of ancient Troy.
Eratosthenes was the first to try to fix historical dates.
To make it clearer, our current system is based on Dionysius Exyguus, who fixed the date of Christ’s birth to the foundation of the city of Rome.
This followed up the Roman attempts to fix the date of the foundation of Rome to the emperor augustus.
This is very significant because if Eratosthenes is wrong, then all our date fixes to ancient times are wrong as well.
He also missed the part where the beach moved and Troy was left quite a bit inland from where it was earlier imagined.
We just spent a few weeks going through the Indian Epic "Mahabarat" ~ 95 tv shows, each of 45 minutes length.
Here you have a competing Epic called "The Ramayana".
The structures are different, but the characters and content are the same, take place during the same periods of time, and tell the same moral precepts.
Homer's work doesn't have any competition to serve as a validation for the content, but it's probably as "valid" as the Mahabarat or the Ramayana, or probably even the exceedingly long Uzbek national saga.
No doubt the Greeks wanted to make their own civilization seem as old as that of the Egyptians and others in the region. At the same time the "archaeological dark age" has other evidence going for it. All you have to do is check out Icelandic volcanic catastrophes, look for the residue down wind, and next thing you know you have a record for tracing and tracking total economic and social collapses throughout Western Europe, Southern Europe, North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, and Black Sea civilizations ~ going all the way back to the end of the Ice Age.
Unless this latest thesis jibes with the volcanic record I'm not ready to buy off on it. Greek civilization has to date back further else the Celtic tribes along the rivers leading to the Black Sea would not have been distinguishable from the Greeks in the region, and they would hat have had time to have transported their "civilization" from the Black Sea region to Northern Spain by 700 BCE, and that's really important because if they can't do that, they can't pacify the nearby Basque and transport them to Ireland to become the Celtic Speaking Irish which modern DNA tests prove them to be.
So, maybe not 1400 BCE, but certainly earlier than 900 BCE.
He doesn’t, although there are certain things suggestive of a time frame, such as the use (on both sides) of chariots on the battlefield, helmets and armor descriptions which match artifacts now known to be of Mycenaean Greek manufacture, and (most importantly, IMHO) the list of Troy’s allies.
At the same time the "archaeological dark age" has other evidence going for it.It doesn't. There's no evidence for the existence of the Greek dark age -- hence the term, "dark age". No artifacts, and most importantly, no strata at all. Structures from classic times were built immediately atop Mycenaean structures.
Unless this latest thesis jibes with the volcanic record I'm not ready to buy off on it.That makes no sense at all. There isn't any correspondence between world history and the eruption of some Icelandic volcano. An ash layer in the Greenland ice cores was originally saddled on as evidence for the fictional mid-2nd millennium BC eruption of Thera, but was found to match a volcano in Alaska (instead of nearby Iceland). Greenland has been at the fringe of world history for some reason. :')
Greek civilization has to date back further else the Celtic tribes along the rivers leading to the Black Sea would not have been distinguishable from the Greeks in the region...And that has bupkis to do with the Trojan War. The Celtic incursion into Greek lands and Anatolia came later than the Trojan War and is well dated.
So, maybe not 1400 BCE, but certainly earlier than 900 BCE.The Trojan War years correspond to the 25th "Ethiopian" Dynasty of Egypt, so yeah, later than 900 BC. The Phrygians had entered Anatolia, and were allied with Troy, but the Phrygian kingdom only lasted a few generations, then was destroyed by a new wave of various invaders from Asia. That wave also ended the Mycenaean or Heroic Age of Greece.
Well,”tree ring data” fails again.
“The Uluburun Shipwreck - a Dendrochronological Scandal [ 151K]. The Aegean Dendrochronology Project has asserted that a tree-ring date from the ancient shipwreck off Uluburun vindicates the conventional chronology and refutes the case argued in Centuries of Darkness for a major lowering of the Late Bronze Age. Further investigation has shown that this “tree-ring date” is not all it has been claimed to be.”
That pushes the Trojan war back further.
Regarding the timing of Icelandic Volcanic eruptions and events elsewhere in Europe, we have Hekla being in the TOP TEN worldwide, which is not usually a big deal since most folks are able to get out of the way quite readily.
On the other hand all the Icelandic volcanoes spew fluorides ~ and that is a really special problem since a modest amount can kill people like Black Flag scragging ants, and Iceland has 130 volcanoes. One piece at Wiki said that "over the past 500 years, Iceland's volcanoes have erupted a third of the total global lava output."
While looking through the list of the largest eruptions to see if there were lists of the minor eruptions (with lots of fluoriodes) I encountered an analysis that says SANTORINI is overdue for another trick. The various timelines prepared for it suggest it had what amounts to a 200 year long period of recurring eruptions, so whatever the Greeks were doing elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, or even in Bulgaria, they had a real trip.
Just sitting there perking away with a minor eruption here, a minor eruption there, a lava flow, a spewing of fluorides hither and yon, and doing it over and over and over, we end up not needing for any particular eruption to do vast damage.
The most recent major event in Iceland that's probably related to serious disruption in Europe was a modest outburst of Hekla and the others some time in the 500s. That combined with a major blast hypothesized for Krakatoa, or Rabaul in 535 could very well have precipitated the European Dark Ages PLUS the apparent disappearance of the people known as the Picts.
No one imagines these volcanoes weren't blowing their tops in earlier ages and killing people worldwide.
It would seem to me that a simple way to date the Trojan War, at least roughly would be to determine when Mycenae was the dominant power in Greece.
I never pass up Greek/Roman stuff — I love it — but well it’s been a long day & I was being flippant — you know the blogall warming stuff & all that.
Thanks for info though. I just remember that I thought Troy was around 1200 and really was not aware of the intense debate.
I think our classics prof, Dr. Agnew taught us it was around 1150 BC. I don’t recall how he arrived at that date but he was one of the smartest people I have ever known.
Any good Bible chronologies around Please?
Admittedly I've been away from the literature for some time, but I recall a hiatus between the final examples of LH III and the subsequent Protogeometric pottery that indicted a general Aegean economic collapse. (A ten year war could certainly have that effect.) Has this period contracted from a couple generations to a seamless transition?
“He also missed the part where the beach moved and Troy was left quite a bit inland.”
In 3,000 years a lot of silting can take place. Also, this is an active earthquake area which can easily raise the land dozens of feet. A major quake in Chile last century, I think, raised an area 20 feet. So don’t go blaming Homer.
Check out these Google sites for Cassiodorus, strange weather. I first became aware of this information from a book on boloid impact effects.
Those are some nice hits, included this old topic (long forgotten by me):
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