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Ages in Chaos

Ages in Chaos is the title of Immanuel Velikovsky’s bestseller, a title which also amply describes the state of ancient Egyptian chronology, wherein, according to Velikovsky, either some 580 years are missing in Israel’s Biblical Old Testament and other histories, or six hundred ghost years have somehow crept into Egyptian History!  

According to <http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovsky/ages.htm>, “Ages in Chaos reconstructs the political and cultural histories of the nations of the world starting from the physical catastrophes described in the book of Exodus and Egyptian documents.”  The end results of this are, among other things:  

            v The story of the plagues which preceded the Exodus, but as written by an Egyptian eyewitness, a sage Ipuwer,  

            v An illustrated diary of the biblical Queen of Sheba on her visit to the Holy Land -- and the explicit identification of her as Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt,  

            v The vessels and furnishings of the Temple of Solomon, and   

            v Letters formerly believed written by pre-Israelite princes of Canaan, which are not believed to have been written by kings of Judah.  

Some personal favorites are the first two.  One is described in Comparative Religions as an example of texts from two entirely different cultures describing the same events.  But the second one deserves some specific comments.  

The biblical Queen of Sheba has always been something of a mystery.  Her visit to the court of King Solomon seems straightforward enough, but finding an appropriate Queen in other histories has been difficult.  One or two suggestions have been forced onto the scene, but they tend to fail in comparison to the Queen of Sheba’s apparent stature.  

Meanwhile, roughly 580 years earlier in ancient Egyptian history, there is the story of Queen Hatshepsut (a Queen of the first magnitude!), who traveled at one point in her long, eventful and glorious reign, to the Land of Punt.  She did so by sea, in a great barge, and returned with a menagerie of tourist trappings, all of which were dutifully recorded in her great funeral temple located adjacent to the Valley of the Kings.  The only problem is that the identification of the Land of Punt is also a mystery.  

Velikovsky stepped into this seeming dilemma, and said that the Queen of Sheba (“Sheba” meaning “south” -- and Egypt being south of Israel) was none other than the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, and that furthermore, Punt was Israel!

Simple.  Problem solved.  Now, if there are no more questions...  

Okay, there is this one tiny, infinitesimally small difficulty:  Queen Hatshepsut lived, according to the mainstream view of ancient Egyptian chronology, 580 years earlier than King Solomon.  This not only made her “the older woman in extremis”, but placed her earlier than (i.e. an ancestor of) Ramses II, of whom it had been assumed was the pharaoh of Egypt when the Exodus began, the latter which resulted in the nation state, which thereafter spawned King Solomon, which...  Okay, you see the problem.  

Not to worry.  Velikovsky pointed out that 580 years of later ancient Egyptian history (a section of dynasties which seemed to have had little impact on Egypt or the rest of the world), were, in fact, a repetition of a previous 580 years of Egyptian history.  In other words, the later pharaohs (on which the later history was based) were simply additional names and/or titles of an earlier batch.  When the two batches were combined (for which Velikovsky gave a great deal of justification in Ages in Chaos, as well as Peoples of the Sea), 580 years slipped out of the Egyptian saga.   

In this scenario, the beginning of the Old Kingdom occurred circa 2106 B.C.E. (instead of the date of 2686 B.C.E. as previously thought -- as in e.g. Encyclopaedia Britannica).  The more recent date seems more in line with the decline and ultimate end of the Sumerian Civilization, circa 2000 B.C.E., and in fact, might account for the rise of the Egyptian civilization, rather abruptly unimpeded by a rival, well-established Sumerian culture.  (This also makes Abraham a time contemporary of the same new upstarts.)  

Another advantage of losing the extra 580 years -- besides bringing the destined lovers of Hatshepsut and Solomon together -- was that this placed the Exodus at the end of the Old Kingdom (nothing like losing your slave population to put an end to a dynasty), instead of during the time of Ramses II (one of the toughest, meanest dudes on the block).  Had the Exodus occurred during Ramses’ time, he would have had to have some incredible spin doctors to delete the minor fact of the nation’s slave population leaving for parts unknown without this fact making the headlines.  [If Ramses had had such PR control, Bush, et al could have taken a lesson from him with respect to Enron, et al, et al, et al., et al.]  

The difficulty with Velikovsky’s view is that it’s a... well... a change.  As such, it would require updating of some books, maybe even causing some revisions in other people’s thinking.  But Siriusly, it would have implied that many other people’s work (sometimes a life’s work) -- which might have relied on the old dating system -- was wrong, irrelevant, and could be tossed without regret into the trash bin.  Bummer.  

Another minor problem, is that Ages in Chaos is ultimately tied to Worlds in Collision, in which described the Earth and another celestial body (first Venus, and later, Mars) having a close encounter with each other, such that Earth experienced some major traumas.  [One such trauma is contained in the Biblical statement, “Sun, Stand Thou Still.”  When the Earth temporarily ceases to apparently rotate on its axis, that’s a trauma!]  

If it happened before, then it could happen again!  If the Earth is accosted by celestial neighbor in the past, then what’s to prevent it happening at any time in the near future?  Such an idea is unpleasant, and consequently as been avoided like the plague -- in fact, like the plagues of Egypt during the Exodus.  [Yes, yes, I know:  A plague upon puns!]  

But times have changed.  In recent years, we’ve gotten to see Comet Shoemaker-Levy do a suicide run on Jupiter.  We’ve also noted -- but with very little press or fanfare -- that the Comet, in an early close encounter with Jupiter, had been torn into pieces.  Oops.  

A more likely close fly-by can be enormously destructive, as opposed to a “planet-killer” actual, head-on collision.  

Then there’s the money!  Astronomers have suddenly tripped to the fact that they can raise money to search the heavens for additional Near-Earth Objects, so as to warn the human race of an impending problem -- assuming that the news can get through the vast bureaucratic maze in time to do anything (an assumption which is likely faulty).  Thus, the normal knee-jerk reaction to such scenarios as Worlds in Collision describes is suddenly placed on the back burner, while funding is to be had to increase scientists’ budgets.  

In any case, Worlds in Collision, while initially a book published in 1950 by Velikovsky (as well as a science fiction novel and movie), might eventually become the name of a main event fifty or so years later.  

As to Velikovsky’s book, Dr Robert H. Pfeiffer of Harvard University, is reputed to have said, "If Dr Velikovsky is right, this volume is the greatest contribution to the investigation of ancient times ever written."   

While reviews and criticisms of Velikovsky's work have tended to be inaccurate, wrong, inconclusive, and often motivated by some of the most anti-truth pronouncements ever made, there is also the fact that Velikovsky did make a few mistakes.  He was, after all, speculating at the edge (albeit with extensive historical documents as a foundation) on some of the most incredible possibilities imaginable.  Despite this, “his key proposal, that in historical times mankind witnessed global catastrophes of cosmic origin, endures with increasing numbers of organisations and people investigating his work.”  [1]  

Finally, we might visit < http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovsky/stargaze.htm> for a brief teaser on Velikovsky’s book, Stargazers and Gravediggers:  

“With the publication of Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision in 1950, a bombshell burst upon the literary and scientific scene whose reverberations continue to this day. Even prior to publication, the book was the subject of intense controversy.  

“The academic community was immediately and intensely polarized. Several world-famous ‘authorities’ denounced the book as "rubbish" (without having read it carefully), while other scientists and scholars praised Velikovsky's method and revolutionary conclusions.  

“Through a concerted campaign of letter writing, a successful boycott of the original publisher's textbook department was undertaken by an elite group of American astronomers. Even as Worlds in Collision hovered at the top of the national best-seller lists, the publisher was forced to suspend publication of the book, and another firm, which had no vulnerable textbook division, took it on. Thus one of the greatest controversies in scientific history became one of the most shameful episodes in publishing history.”  

“The story of Worlds in Collision is of timely interest, because the problems and solutions Velikovsky pointed out in 1950 are at the forefront of scientific research in the 1980's: recent planetary space probes, new proposals in evolutionary theory, and geological and archaeological findings supporting or confirming ideas that just thirty years ago were confidently declared to be "arrant nonsense" by the supposed experts of the day.”  

[And, of course, if increased funding is available...]  

Stargazers and Gravediggers is a work of understated triumph that will give both the scientist and the general reader cause to reconsider prior beliefs about science, objectivity, human nature, and the opinions of experts.”  

The rule is:  Question Authority!  


Immanuel Velikovsky         Laurence Gardner         Zecharia Sitchin

Forward to:

Lunatics         When the Earth was Moonless         Deification of the Planets

Egyptian Prehistory         600 B.C.E.         History 009



[1]  The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies -- The SIS was formed in 1974 in response to a growing interest in the works of modern catastrophists such as Dr Immanuel Velikovsky, stimulating controversy in the fields of cosmology, geology and ancient history. The SIS publishes two high quality journals (and a website: <http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovsky/ages.htm>) which have included articles by and about Velikovsky. ]



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