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Shoshenq, Again

Just noticed at the Centuries of Darkness website:

March 2009. A fascinating article has been published by Dr Rupert Chapman (British Museum), entitled “Putting Shoshenq I in His Place” in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly 141:1 (2009), pp. 4-17. Chapman presents a fresh analysis of a question that has intrigued archaeologists since 1926, when a fragment of a victory-stela of Shoshenq I (founder of the Egyptian 22nd Dynasty) was found at the site of ancient Megiddo in Israel – it was found in the ‘dump’ from earlier excavations, but which stratum did it originally belong to? While reattributing such a find a century after it was discovered is fraught with difficulty, Chapman deduces that it was orginally set up in Stratum V, which by cross-dating with his work on the pottery of Samaria must have been a 9th-century BC level. He concludes: “On the basis of the purely stratigraphic argument set out above, it becomes clear that Sheshonq I and his expedition should also be dated to the 9th century BC.” Chapman’s paper is the first study (outside Centuries of Darkness) to argue from archaeological grounds that the conventional dating of Shoshenq I to the late 10th century BC is incorrect.

I don’t buy the CoD model for chronological revision, but I’m thoroughly convinced it is incorrect to identify Shoshenq I with the biblical “Shishak” (1 Kgs 14). Tel Rehov carbon dating, pottery stratigraphy from Shoshenq destruction levels in Jezreel, and now the context of Shoshenq’s victory stele in Megiddo all argue for a ninth-century rather than a tenth-century date for his campaign.

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2 Comments

  1. mikelioso says:

    What do you suppose is the likelihood that the Shishak is Shoshenq and the author of Kings is incorrect on his activity? I was wondering if Shishak had ever carried off the treasures of the temple and the tale was just to explain why all of Solomons fabled riches were no longer there. If Solomon’s kingdom was less prosperous than claimed in the Bible, as some scholars believe, then Shoshenq’s war might make a good explanation to those reading Kings why those treasures were no longer in the temple.

    Since the Bible doesn’t mention a later Egyptian war with a king of Judah or Israel, I would say that it does intend Shishak to be Shoshenq, though if the date for his invasion is off it may mean or date for the Kings of Judah is also off or the author of Kings is mistaken on the king who on the throne when Shishak attacked.

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  2. There’s nothing inherently implausible in your theory, Mike, but it still creates a problem for ancient chronology. The evidence is tending to place Shoshenq in the 9th century, not the 10th. Maybe the reports of his year 20 campaign were garbled along the way, or maybe the “Shishak” of the early Divided Monarchy period was someone else. Either way, Egyptologists are going to have to reduce their chronology by a good 50-60 years to “put Shoshenq I in his place,” and that shift is going to have to ripple up the time line. It seems to be an interesting time to be a writer/editor of ancient history textbooks!

    As for later Egyptian conflicts with Judah/Israel, Pierce Furlong’s University of Melbourne dissertation attempts to equate Yr 20 Shoshenq I with Yr 3 Jehoshaphat (c. 875, 2 Chr 17), suggesting that overt references to foreign invasion were omitted in service of the Chronicler’s own theological biases. Or, if you prefer, in Discussions in Egyptology 33, Jeremy Goldberg suggests an (unreported) Egyptian intervention around 850 BC would help to explain the contrast between the meager Egyptian effort at Qarqar (853 BC) and the great fear aroused by rumors of an Egyptian intervention against Damascus sometime in the 840’s (2 Kg 7:6). Who knows?

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