Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Old Testament – Archaeological History or Just a Good Read?

For decades archaeologist have been questioning the historicity of the Old Testament narratives as archaeological discovery upon archaeological discovery lines up to contradict the events recorded in Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, and Kings and Chronicles. Today, few archaeologist (or historians for that matter) see evidence for a Sojourn of Western Asiatics (i.e. proto-Israelites) in Egypt during the New Kingdom; nor do they find a pattern of city destructions at the end of the Late Bronze Age which they can equate with an Israelite conquest of the Promised Land as described in the book of Joshua; and more recently, the position of Solomon, as a wealthy merchant prince has been seriously questioned following Professor Israel Finkelstein's radical revision of Iron Age chronology.

So, is the Bible simply a collection of fairy stories? Or is there a basic misunderstanding here?

These are fascinating times. We are coming to a point when something has to give. Either the historical Bible needs to be assigned to the wastebasket of history or archaeologists need to rethink the relationship between their stratigraphy and biblical narrative history. The big question is: do we really have the correct archaeological framework to enable biblical historians to construct a cultural and political history of ancient Israel? And, following on from this, if there is any doubt whatsoever concerning the previous question, could we not attempt a reassessment of the chronology of the ancient Near East in order to achieve a fresh perspective on the cultural development of the nation of Israel – its origins in Egypt, its emergence in the hill country of Palestine and its establishment as a kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon?

There are now two models for us to compare.

(1) The conventional chronology places the Sojourn in Egypt during the Late Bronze Age and the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan at the end of that archaeological period. The book of Judges then covers the Early Iron Age, which, if Finkelstein proves to be correct (and I believe his arguments are receiving wide acceptance), must include the era of the United Monarchy. The Divided Monarchy would then fall into Iron Age II.

In this model, as I have already stated, we have no archaeological evidence of Israelites in Egypt. There are no identifiable remains of Western Asiatics at Pi-Ramesse (biblical Raamses) which have come to light – even after a quarter of a century of excavations.

We have no destruction of a fortified city of Jericho, which, as we all know, was virtually an abandoned ruin at the end of the Bronze Age. Nor is a destruction of Hazor attributable to the time of Joshua's conquest. Amnon Ben Tor's current excavation of the Late Bronze Age palace at Hazor is producing a date for the burning for that building around the time of Seti I, some 100 years before the proposed date for any Israelite destruction of the city. So yet another pillar of the conventional biblical chronology collapses. There are now no destructions of Canaanite cities which can safely be attributed to the Israelites. This was pointed out long ago by Dr John Bimson both in his PhD thesis (published as Redating the Exodus and Conquest) and in the pages of Biblical Archaeology Review.

It is clear from the survey work undertaken throughout the hill-country of Palestine in recent years that there is a general cultural continuity between the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. Increases in population and the introduction of new house designs do not constitute cultural change but rather demographic change. There does appear to be continuity in domestic pottery between the two periods, which would be difficult to explain in the context of the influx of a new people coming out of the Egyptian environment. This is why Bill Dever and others argue that the increase in population must be sourced from areas within the Palestine sphere - perhaps from the lowlands or from Transjordan. It is precisely this lack of a clear cultural break which has led to the theories of 'peasant revolt' and 'social revolution' put forward to explain the rise of a political entity called Israel within the region.

The conventional model also now denies an archaeological phase appropriate to the Old Testament view of the United Monarchy period. Finkelstein's 100-year downward revision of Iron Age chronology puts paid to the glories of the Solomonic era. What, then, does the conventional chronology offer us? Very little it would appear. There are few scraps of comfort here to satisfy those who search for an Israelite archaeological history compatible with the literary tradition.

(2) The second model is that offered by the New Chronology – still in its infancy and suffering from that typical academic attitude towards new ideas "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts" (as Professor Bill Dever brilliantly puts it). Egyptologists and biblical historians who adopt his know-it-all attitude are in danger of turning their disciplines into 'nanny states' where younger scholars get smacked down and sent to their rooms if they dare to question the wisdom and authority of their elders.

So what is the big heresy of the New Chronology? Well, it is certainly a radical thesis – but is it really such a ludicrous idea? What we are looking at is a revision of the historical interpretation of the stratigraphy of the Middle and Late Bronze Ages and the later Iron I and II. In essence the results for biblical archaeology of the new scheme are as follows.

The New Chronology proposes an Israelite Sojourn in Egypt during the late-12th and 13th Dynasties when archaeology produces clear evidence for the existence of a large Western Asiatic population in Egypt. The city of Avaris, located in the Land of Goshen (and lying under the southern quarter of the later city of Pi-Ramesse), was populated by foreigners from the Levant. The Brooklyn Papyrus 35.1446 lists domestic slaves with Asiatic names, a number of which are clearly biblical names (Menahem, Issachar, Asher, Shiphrah, etc.).

During the Middle Bronze IIB (the Hyksos period in Egyptian terms) there is undisputed evidence that many of the cities in Canaan, recorded in the Bible as being destroyed by Joshua, were indeed raised to the ground by fire. Jericho at this time was a heavily fortified city – its walls fell down and it was destroyed by fire, then to be abandoned for several centuries. Hazor was also raised to the ground (Joshua 11:11), whilst letters from the Middle Bronze Age archive there tell us that the name of one of the kings of Hazor at this time was Ibni – the Canaanite equivalent of the biblical Jabin, killed by Joshua when he destroyed Hazor (Joshua 11:10).

Towards the end of MB II a migdol-temple was constructed on top of a platform or terrace filling at Shechem. In front of the temple the builders erected a large white standing stone. Sometime later (during LB I) the temple was burnt to the ground. The book of Joshua informs us that the Israelites, having completed their conquest of the Promised Land, gathered in front of the Temple of Baal-Berith ('Lord of the Covenant') at Shechem. This structure was otherwise known as the Beth Millo 'House of the Millo' and the Hebrew word Millo means 'platform' or 'terrace filling' (Judges 9:6 & 20). There Joshua erected the covenant stone (Joshua 24:25-26). The book of Judges informs us that Abimelech, king of Shechem, burnt the migdol temple to the ground with one thousand citizens of Shechem inside (Judges 9:46-49).

Israel Finkelstein's excavations at Shiloh in the 1980s uncovered a sacred precinct which the archaeological evidence suggests was founded in the last phase of the Middle Bronze Age. The Bible informs us that Joshua's Israelites set up the sanctuary of the Ark at Shiloh long before it was moved to its new home in the Temple of Solomon. In the conventional chronology this MB IIB sacred enclosure at Shiloh has to be a Canaanite cultic temenos which the Israelites 'took over' when they arrived in the hill-country during the Early Iron Age. In the New Chronology it is the Middle Bronze Age sanctuary which the incoming Israelites were responsible for founding on a virgin hilltop – there is no need for a reoccupation of an old Canaanite cult centre as required by the currently accepted scheme.

In the New Chronology model Solomon is a king of the Late Bronze Age when archaeology has revealed that the cities of Megiddo and Hazor were at their architectural peak. In LB II we find fine ashlar buildings, including palaces and gateways whose outer walls are constructed on the principles described for Solomon's building activity (I Kings 7:9-12). The era of the Late Bronze Age was one of prosperity and high culture. Trade flourished. This setting is far more appropriate for Solomon the merchant prince than the impoverished Iron Age IB where he currently languishes in the conventional scheme.

Shoshenk I's campaign into Gilead, the Jordan and Jezreel Valleys and the Sharon is not that of the biblical Shishak but rather Egypt's military response to the maraudings of Hazael's Arameans from Damascus who attacked these very same regions in the time of Jehoahaz (II Kings 13:1-7). Southern Canaan was perceived as falling within the Egyptian hegemony and so Shoshenk's response would have been appropriate. The Bible does not name the military leader who came to the rescue of Jehoahaz – he is simply referred to as 'a saviour who freed them (the Israelites) from the grip of Aram'. The Aramean invasions also explain the population increase in the hill-country during the Early Iron Age. The new settlements are refugee camps for the Israelites who have fled from Transjordan in the wake of the Aramean raids. They settle in the heartland of the kingdom of Israel for protection – they are not the Israelites of the Conquest. Bill Dever and the other archaeologists are right to argue that these Iron Age newcomers were indigenous to the region because they are refugees from the outlying tribal settlements of Israel during the Divided Monarchy period.

This brief outline only covers some of the historical advantages of the new scheme. There are many others, including a much better historical context for the Habiru of the Amarna Letters and a proper cultural setting for the stories relating to Joseph (now set in the late 12th Dynasty).

The New Chronology opens up fascinating possibilities for research and debate once scholars realise its potential for providing answers to many of the problems which have beset biblical archaeology over the years.

David Rohl Testimonials

(Search Ministries, Minneapolis)

Last spring, our organization had the great joy of hosting David Rohl for a presentation he gave before more than 500 people in Minneapolis. While I had only heard of David through a mutual friend, it didn’t take long for me to learn in a conversation with him that he was an exceedingly bright, relationally warm, interesting and ingratiating Brit, with every bit of the charming English accent to boot! 
            His presentation to our audience was a home run in every way! While the room was filled with people of religious faith and skeptics alike, David’s knowledge of Biblical archaeology proved to be fascinating to all. More than that, he was able to underscore the implications of such archeological discoveries for 21st-century men and women. 
            The bottom line is that we couldn’t have been more pleased with the event. Our expectations for David, based on his stellar reputation, were very high but he even exceeded them. We can’t wait to have him back again!

Jeff Siemon
Area Director – Search Ministries

(Film and TV Director/Producer)

I am a filmmaker working on a major theatrical documentary film on the Bible. It has been my pleasure and good fortune to have met and now come to work with David Rohl as a result of this film. I must tell you that David has been one of the most powerful communicators I have worked with in the last decade. As a result of that experience, I invited David to come to Minneapolis and speak to several groups.
The first talk was to a small group of forty friends in my studio. It was an engaging evening listening to David, as he shared the evidences and archaeology that relate to the Biblical stories. To this day it is a highlight for many who came because, for the first time, they have a new understanding of the Bible’s historical connections with archaeology.
David also spoke at a large church in one of the Sunday School classes. The audience was between sixty and seventy, and, again, David was very refreshing, with his audience fully engaged, as he showed pictures and talked about the connections between the Bible stories and what had been found in archaeology.
But, the most impressive turnout was an event organised by the local chapter of the national organization Search Ministries. This paid event was held in the morning at a local country club and over five hundred people attended. Again David “knocked the ball right out of the park with a homerun”. The audience was mesmerized as, without notes, he wove the stories of the Bible and archaeology into a powerful visual presentation that left everyone greatly inspired. The response was so positive that numerous requests were made for additional materials.
If your looking for a powerful, engaging, articulate communicator who understands the historical events of the Bible, then David Rohl is your man.

T. Mahoney
Director/ Producer, Mahoney Media Group, Inc., Minneapolis, USA

(Publishing Director of Century – The Random House Group)

David Rohl is the best public speaker I have had the pleasure of working with. As the editor and publisher of all his bestselling books, I have taken the opportunity to hear David speak to large audiences on a number of occasions and have witnessed them fascinated and gripped by his presentations – which, incidentally, are always beautifully illustrated with stunning pictures and graphics.
I remember one occasion at the Royal Geographical Society in London, a difficult event because the audience is extremely well informed – a mixture of academics, explorers and other travellers of the old school, inclined to think they know it all already. David held them all spellbound with his mixture of erudition, revelations of the latest archaeological discoveries and storytelling. 
Storytelling is the key. David Rohl is such a successful author because he has found a way to use the techniques of suspense-fiction in non-fiction writing. He is an articulate and inspiring speaker with a dramatic story to tell. I have no doubt that his pioneering presentations will be of interest to an American audience and, if British and European audiences are anything to go by, David will make a big impact wherever he speaks in the USA

M. Booth
Publishing Director, Century, Random House, London, UK

(Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences)

A consummate communicator, Rohl writes and lectures brilliantly and is one of that rare breed of scholars who can talk to a lay public without condescension and with real passion. Reading Rohl, watching his television programmes or listening to his lectures, one is impressed by a wide-ranging mind completely at home in a familiar landscape. His obvious mastery of the subject, the clarity with which he lays bare the disturbing inconsistencies he is challenging, his impressive marshalling of facts and the lucidity of his arguments mark him out as an important voice in archaeology.
            Rohl is a fiendishly clever writer. He even manages the trick of occasionally letting his readers get ahead of him so that they work out a conclusion before he suggests it. No wonder his arguments are persuasive – you worked them out for yourself! As a detective story for intelligent, inquisitive people his seminal work, A Test of Time, is unmatched.

A. van der Elst
Chairman of ISIS, London, UK

(Pro Vice-Chancellor and Senior Dean at Nottingham Trent University, UK)

I first met David Rohl around twenty years ago, and since then have followed, with great interest, the development of his theories concerning the chronology of the ancient world. I have attended several of his lectures and even travelled with him all over the Middle East, and can say, without equivocation, that he has few peers in blending words and pictures to present a clear and thought-provoking argument.

Professor T. Palmer  BA, PhD, FIBiol, CIBiol, FIBMS, ILTM
Nottingham Trent University, UK

(Dean of St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, Florida)

A consummate communicator, David Rohl’s excellent and informative lectures received an enthusiastic response on our campus. His fascinating and gripping presentations, which included stunning pictures and graphics, held graduate student audiences spell-bound for hours. Rohl possesses the unique gift of being simultaneously popular, academically challenging, and able to talk to a lay public without condescension.
His initial research in Egypt, coupled with his subsequent books and TV documentaries, has demonstrated to the public at large an important position: we cannot simply accept the foundations of the conventional chronology as being sufficient – and we have no reason to think the Biblical account is the myth of pious frauds.
Contentious for the truth, Rohl’s thought-provoking presentations on Egyptology and the chronologies of the ancient world confront the status quo with compelling, brilliantly orchestrated, evidence for the veracity of the Old Testament narratives.

Thomas B. Tribelhorn, M.Ed., M.A., D.Min., Ph.D.
Academic Dean and Chair, Doctoral Studies Program
St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, Florida, USA

(President of The Virtual Bible)

The issue of the veracity of Bible history is still not settled in scholarly circles and David Rohl has provided excellent arguments to resolve many of the contentious issues, taking the subject of Biblical Archaeology in a new and fascinating direction, which is more progressive than anything offered by any other scholar in the field. David has been a personal friend of mine for several years and I continue to be impressed with the quality of his scholarship, which represents a major contribution to this important subject.

Professor D. Warner BA, MA, PhD
Adjunct Professor of the Old Testament for Dallas and Central Baptist Theological Seminary; President, The Virtual Bible, Orlando, Florida, USA

(Business executive for a major computer software company)

As a leading provider of internet solutions to the world’s largest Blue Chip company – IBM – my company, KANA, needed to secure a speaker for its 2002 Customer Day – a corporate event with an unquestionable reputation for quality and sophistication. In that year we decided to hold this prestigious gathering at the British Museum and selected David Rohl as our keynote speaker, because we knew that he would provide us with the perfect mix of consumer recognition and scholarly credibility. Because KANA had invited a major prospective client (subsequently converted into a customer) who was considering investing in IBM and KANA to the tune of $1 billion over the next ten years, our messaging needed to be absolutely right. The keynote speaker had to be 100% believable, since he personified IBM itself for the day. Needless to say, David’s presentation to this lay audience of executives, dealing, as it did, with the complex topic of the origins of Egyptian civilisation, was extremely well received (and understood). IBM and KANA look forward to engaging David Rohl again and again in the future.

A. Gough
KANA, EMEA Director of New Business, London, UK

(Head of Levantine Archaeology (retired) at the Institute of Archaeology, London)

I have known David Rohl for at least twenty years, as an undergraduate and research student at University College London; as a member of my excavation team at Tell Nebi Mend (ancient Qadesh-on-the-Orontes) in Syria; as a colleague and travelling companion; and as a personal friend. He was outstanding as a student, with an exceptionally profound knowledge of the archaeology of Egypt, the Near East, and the Mediterranean region. Most impressive was his ability to keep up-to-date with current research, and to assimilate new discoveries and ideas into his own work. He already had a highly developed critical faculty and never hesitated to challenge the currently accepted wisdom, ever seeking new answers to old questions, as well as formulating new questions, which he believed archaeology should address.
            Since his student days Rohl has become a successful author of books and maker of films on ancient history and archaeology, all of them exhibiting the quite extraordinary enthusiasm he has always had for the subject, and what can only be described as a passion to disseminate the results of his research among a wide, non-professional public.

P. Parr
Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London

(Biblical scholar, linguist and historian)

I have known David Rohl and been familiar with his work in the fields of Egyptology and Ancient History for more than twenty-five years. In that time I have examined various aspects of David’s innovative theories and found them to be well researched and convincing. I consider David’s work to be of considerable importance to ancient world studies. It certainly deserves the attention of the media for dissemination to the general public.
            David’s public presentations on ancient historical and Biblical topics are excellent and informative. He always gets an enthusiastic response from audiences here in Germany. As an ancient historian and Biblical scholar, I wholeheartedly recommend his work to you.

Dr. P. van der Veen  BaTh, MTh, PhD
Head of the Biblical Archaeology, Wort und Wissen, Germany

(Producer at Stretch Productions)

No-one makes Biblical Archaeology come to life like David Rohl! His ability to give a presentation without a written script allows him totally to connect with his audience. He knows Egyptology, archaeology and the Old Testament stories so well that it seems almost effortless as he moves through his presentations, which are also visually stunning.
As a Producer for Stretch Productions in Texas, I was fortunate enough to film David's lecture series ‘The Bible: Myth or Reality?’ in Clearwater, Florida. Stretch Productions has made many programs through the years, but filming David Rohl as he presented the evidence for an historically-based Old Testament was something special, bringing the Biblical stories into focus like no other scholar. Most of us will never have an opportunity to explore all the archaeological sites as David has done, and no-one is better at explaining the evidence so that everyone can understand and appreciate the epic stories from our ancient past.

C. McCraw
Producer, Stretch Productions, Fort Worth, Texas, USA

(Biblical historian, theologian and Warden of Tindale House, Cambridge University)

David Rohl’s contribution to the study of Old World archaeology has introduced a breath of fresh air to the intellectually stagnant areas of Biblical and Egyptian historical reconstruction. The academic disciplines will almost certainly have more and better students as a result of Rohl’s publications and lectures than they would have without them.

Dr. P. J. Williams  BA, MA, PhD
Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

(Chairman of Sussex Egyptology Society)

Over the years that I have known David Rohl he has proved to be one of the most popular lecturers at Sussex Egyptology Society, one of the largest regional Egyptology societies in the UK. David is a gifted speaker and his brilliantly illustrated talks consistently result in our largest audiences. His knowledge of the ancient world is legendary and his talks and illustrations are based on his own explorations of the Middle East and an in depth study of the Ancient World.
A David Rohl lecture is always an informative, stimulating and exciting event, hugely enjoyed by all who attend. It is not unreasonable to say that David Rohl has been the major stimulus to the remarkable upsurge in Egyptological interest in the UK over the last twenty years.

J. Shepherd
Chairman, Sussex Egyptology Society, Worthing, Sussex, UK

(Managing Director of Ancient World Tours)

I first heard David Rohl lecture on a Nile Cruise in October 1991 and it was like someone turning a light on in a darkened room filled with treasures! The inspirational style, the clarity of thinking and delivery, and the breadth and range of knowledge, not only of Egypt but also of the whole of the Ancient World, was just wonderful. It was in no small part due to the many David Rohl lectures I attended over the subsequent years that my interest in Egypt became such a passion that I founded Ancient World Tours in 1994.
David lectures at many of our events including conferences in Cairo, at Reading University, Highclere Castle (the family seat of Lord Carnarvon, now made famous a second time due to the huge international popularity of the TV series Downton Abbey) and last year at University College London. He has just returned from our prestige ‘Travellers in an Antique Land’ tour to Egypt where he delivered five lectures. David has a great following in the UK and overseas, and we all enjoy his warm, amusing style and stimulating subject matter. I look forward to hearing him again soon.

P. Allingham
CEO Ancient World Tours, London, UK

(Chairman of the Society for the Study of Ancient Egypt)

David Rohl has a long association with the Society for the Study of Ancient Egypt, since it was first founded in 1992, as a public speaker, author and Egyptologist of the highest calibre.
The quality and delivery of David’s lectures are excellent, showing the great depth of expertise and the passion he has for ancient world studies. His sphere of knowledge is very wide and varied, covering many ancient civilisations, including Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, the Hittite Empire and Greece, along with Israel, Jordan, and the Middle East in general. More than this though, David has the rare ability to hold, enthuse and convey his vast knowledge to all levels of audience, no matter how complex the topic or how knowledgeable they are on that subject. His charismatic delivery, without the aid of notes, holds everyone spellbound and always leaves them wanting more.
David Rohl is held in the highest esteem by historical societies in the United Kingdom and beyond, and the prestige of his name on a programme is enough to fill any lecture theatre. The biggest testimonial of all is the fact that Egyptology societies keep requesting him back to speak again and again.

R. Payton
Chairman SSAE, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK

(Moderator of the New Chronology internet discussion group)

I am the creator and list-owner of the ‘New Chronology list’, hosted through Yahoogroups, and entirely dedicated to discussing and debating the work of David Rohl. I live in the USA, and after seeing David’s television special ‘Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest’ in 1995, my immediate response was to buy the book and then to review the videotape of the program over and over again.
            In 1999, I began the New Chronology internet discussion group to see if anyone else found his work as fascinating as I did. Now, ten years later, the New Chronology group is ranked number 2 out of 247 archaeology groups at Yahoo and has over 2000 members from 40 countries. To date the site has posted 40,000 e-mails. Many of the members are highly respected academics from universities all over the world.
            I respond to many e-mails each week regarding David’s work, but the question I am asked most frequently is "When can we expect David to lecture in the USA?" David has the rare ability to reach many different types of audience because he is both a scholar and, at the same time, respectful of the Bible (which matters to many of his followers). His fascinating work must continue to be disseminated so that it reaches the large and enthusiastic audience interested in the Bible and ancient history.

C. McCraw
Moderator of, Texas, USA

(Geneticist and Director of the Genesis Laboratory, London)

David Rohl is an Egyptologist and scholar of unusual ability and vision. His ideas have important implications, not only for Egyptology, but also for our whole understanding of the history of the ancient Middle East. David is also a gifted populariser, in the best sense of the word. His presentations inspire audiences towards a fascination with ancient history and archaeology. Who knows how many young minds have already been envisioned to become the next generation of scholars, or to be discoverers and curators of the world’s archaeological treasures, thanks to David’s inspiration?

Dr. D. Ellis  BA, MA, PhD
Director, The Genesis Laboratory, London

(Co-editor of Biblische Archäologie am Scheideweg? (Hänssler Verlag, 2002) and specialist in scientific dating methods)

Last year I co-edited a voluminous German book discussing David Rohl’s revised chronology. We decided to debate this subject in an open-minded and balanced manner by inviting both proponents and critics to contribute to the volume.
David’s model does offer surprising solutions where the archaeological facts and historical interpretations are found to be in disagreement within the conventional scheme. David Rohl’s inspired attempt to reconstruct the archaeo-chronology of the ancient world may prove to be the decisive historical milestone we have all been searching for.

Dr. U. Zerbst  BA, MSc, PhD
Hamburg, Germany

(Author of Chronology at the Crossroads)

I have known David Rohl for over twenty years. We were brought together because of a common interest in ancient history. David is a gifted achiever in many fields, notably musical composition, photography, documentary-making, writing, ancient history, Egyptology and archaeology (for which he has full academic degrees). Like many top polymaths, his status as an ‘outsider’ does not endear him to the Establishment – but this is a sad reflection on them, not on him. I commend David to you. Not only is he one of the great communicators of our age, he has a Big Idea and it really works!

Dr. B. Newgrosh  BA, MA, PhD
Manchester, UK

(Television Producer, Director and Archaeologist)

I was an undergraduate student at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL when I met David Rohl on a dig in Syria. From the very first moment I realised that David’s understanding of Egyptian, Biblical and Near Eastern history was going to set him at odds with the academic establishment. This was not due to his lack of scholarship – which no-one can fault. It was simply due to David’s ability to cut through to the core of the complex subjects he researches with a vision and logic that few people can match. 
David’s refreshing approach to Egyptian Chronology is based on years of research which has given him a deep understanding of the history, archaeology, architecture and philology of the Middle East. As an archaeologist and film-maker I know that David Rohl has so much new and exciting information and ideas to impart – all great subjects for television.

M. Mounayer  BA, MA
Firehorse Films, London and Beirut

(Television Producer, Beirut)

In twenty years of working as both a producer and channel managing director in the Arab World, I have rarely come across anyone as charismatic and knowledgeable as David Rohl. Energetic, disciplined and creative, he sought to make the experience of filming ‘The Egyptian Genesis’ a joy. He was never afraid of interviews where other academics disagreed with him but joined in lively debates where it was obvious that he was more that holding his own with his academic colleagues. As well as researching, writing and presenting ‘The Egyptian Genesis’, David wrote some of the most beautiful music for the series. David Rohl is a multi-talented free-thinker with whom I would love to work again.

N. Rizk
Firehorse Films, Quantum Communications, Lebanon

(Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine, Chairman of the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society and council member of the Northern Branch of the Egypt Exploration Society)

For many years David Rohl has been a regular and popular guest lecturer in Manchester for the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society (which is the largest and oldest of many provincial Egyptology Societies in the United Kingdom). He is well known for his series of books and television programmes on different aspects of Egyptology and Near Eastern ancient history and always attracts our biggest audiences.
            Whilst his ideas and interpretation of the archaeological evidence are not always accepted by some academics, his arguments are persuasive and logical (unlike many theories which feature in books and television documentaries). David has done more than many authors and television presenters to encourage those interested in ancient Egypt to think hard about the evidence before coming to their own conclusions.
            He has also been instrumental in bringing together a team of internationally-known Egyptologists for a major annual conference in the UK where the aim of a full exchange of ideas and information has greatly benefited the study of Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament.

B. Partridge
Chairman of the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society

(President (retired) of the Society for the Study of Ancient Egypt)

My wife and I have known David Rohl since 1992. At that time, after obtaining his Egyptology degree at University College London, he was accompanying Thomas Cook Nile cruises as a guest Egyptologist, which is where we first met him. He also founded ISIS – The Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences – of which we are members.
            For the last thirty years David has undertaken a fascinating programme of research into the chronology of the ancient Near East, travelling extensively throughout the region to check and evaluate his historical analysis. I doubt if any other scholar knows the geography and landscapes of the ancient world better than David.
            Since 1995 he has published four scholarly, extremely well set out, and beautifully illustrated books, which have all been big sellers. Whilst encapsulating his research in great detail, these popular books are also very accessible to the general reader. Such clarity and logic displays a rare talent within academia.
            David is also a very popular and challenging lecturer. As the President of the Society for the Study of Ancient Egypt, I can vouch for the fact that his presentations are amongst the most popular in the North-East and are always attended by a high proportion of our membership.

J. Dunn  Ceng, MIEE
Chesterfield, UK

(Secretary of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies)

David Rohl is a knowledgeable, erudite and charismatic speaker. He has presented several lectures to us over the years, the last being a full-day meeting comprising of three lectures, in September 2009 at the Society’s AGM. His presentations are always clear, stimulating and convincing, accompanied by exceptional visuals. The SIS has no hesitation in recommending David as a speaker.

V. Pearce
Secretary, Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, Luton, UK

(Archivist for the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences)

When David Rohl was invited to speak to our Christian faith group (the ‘brethren in Christ’) in England in 2002, he attracted a large audience of 500 people. His three one-hour lectures were all beautifully illustrated and spontaneously applauded. His talks on ‘Pharaohs and Kings’ were hugely enjoyed by young and old. Our audience had more Biblical knowledge than archaeological education it is true, yet he made a potentially dry and confusing subject come to life, and he enjoyed fielding questions afterwards. We were delighted with his new arguments for the historical accuracy of the Hebrew Bible, and warmly appreciated his presentations.
So I would warmly recommend David Rohl as a speaker to any Christian or ancient history society. His work crosses the boundaries between different interest groups, and is always well presented and accessible to the layman even though deeply researched. I believe we all owe him a huge debt in raising public awareness of the serious historical consequences that arise from placing too much confidence in conventional Egyptian dates. In David, we may even be listening to history in the making!

M. J. H-Brown
Solihull, West midlands, UK

Sunday, January 22, 2012

About David Rohl

David Rohl’s books have convinced me that he is one of the most brilliant and original minds now engaged in writing ancient history. If he hadn't been a historian he would have been a terrific mystery writer. 
Colin Wilson, Archaeology Correspondent for the Daily Mail

The Daily Express newspaper went so far as to state that ‘when it comes to exploring, David Rohl makes Indiana Jones look like an under-achiever.’ Always controversial, Rohl is not only a best-selling writer but also an explorer, TV presenter, internationally renowned public lecturer, composer, musician, record producer, photographer and former Archaeology Correspondent for one of the UK’s leading newspapers.

With degrees in Egyptology, Ancient History, Mycenaean Archaeology and Levantine Archaeology, Rohl is a genuine scholar with a full list of academic credentials, but, at the same time, is seen as a highly original thinker. The Kirkus Review called his best-selling first book ‘a ground breaking analysis of archaeological evidence for the historicity of the early books of the Old Testament … a work with profound implications for both Biblical and Egyptian history … a breathtaking archaeological tour de force.’

David’s popularity stems principally from his internationally acclaimed TV series ‘Pharaohs and Kings’ (1995), which has been seen by millions around the world, and for the best-selling book A Test of Time (translated into twelve languages). The documentary ‘In Search of Eden’ has also reached a huge audience and is constantly being repeated on the satellite channels.

Comment from Anthony van der Elst
(Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences, London)

For most of the last 200 years the academic trend had been to reduce the value of the Old Testament from historically useful narrative to worthless fiction. The most published, most translated, most famous writings on the planet were no better than Harry Potter, and any scholar with the temerity to suggest that they were even a potential source of real history was derided as a crank. Then everything changed when, in 1995, a gifted and compelling voice demanded critical re-examination of the evidence. Crucial assumptions, handed on down through the years from professor to student, had received little such examination. Inconveniently obscure or confused periods tidied generations ago into ‘Dark Ages’ or ‘Intermediate Periods’ had become straight-jackets creaking with the double strain of unresolved contradictions and the insistent questions of modern scholarship. With his first book, A Test of Time, Egyptologist David Rohl burst upon the scene and, in the words of the Sunday Times, ‘set the academic world on its ear’.

A consummate communicator, Rohl writes and lectures brilliantly and is one of that rare breed of scholars who can talk to a lay public without condescension and with real passion. Reading Rohl, watching his television programmes or listening to his lectures, one is impressed by a wide-ranging mind completely at home in a familiar landscape. His obvious mastery of the subject, the clarity with which he lays bare the disturbing inconsistencies he is challenging, his impressive marshalling of facts and the lucidity of his arguments mark him out as an important voice in archaeology. Rohl is a fiendishly clever writer. He even manages the trick of occasionally letting his readers get ahead of him so that they work out a conclusion before he suggests it. No wonder his arguments are persuasive – you worked them out for yourself! As a detective story for intelligent, inquisitive people his seminal work, A Test of Time, is unmatched.

David’s Books

A Test of Time: The Bible – From Myth to History
Published in September 1995 by Century (Random House) in the UK
Published in February 1996 by Crown in the USA
Translations into German, Dutch, Polish, Japanese, Korean
TV Series ‘Pharaohs and Kings’ by Channel Four and Discovery to accompany the book
Sunday Times Magazine cover story
Reached number two in the Sunday Times bestseller list

Review Quotes:

Sunday Times: ‘The New Book of Revelations … A scholarly theory that has set the academic world on its ear.’  ‘A rock and roll archaeologist is rewriting holy history.’

Kirkus Review: ‘A ground breaking analysis of archaeological evidence for the historicity of the early books of the Old Testament … a work with profound implications for both biblical and Egyptian history. A breathtaking archaeological tour de force, persuasively argued, sure to be controversial.’

Seattle Times: ‘This handsomely illustrated book is a treasure.’

Al-Ahram (Egypt): ‘Few authors can boast of making the bestseller list ahead of publication. David Rohl is one those few.’

Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation
Published in September 1998 by Century in the UK
Translations into Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish
TV Documentary ‘In Search of Eden’ by Discovery two years after the book came out
Sunday Times Magazine cover story
Der Spiegel cover story
Jerusalem Report cover story
Reached number six in the Sunday Times bestseller list

Review Quotes:

Sunday Times: ‘The likeliest location of the Garden of Eden is by no means the only jaw-dropper in Rohl’s new book … but then that’s true to form … Rohl’s real achievement is the way in which he has pieced the evidence together into a coherent, properly magnificent story, the first of all stories, for the first time.’

Daily Mail: ‘The Bible, it seems, is back in business.’

Daily Express: ‘When it comes to exploring, David Rohl makes Indiana Jones look like an under-achiever … Rohl is Britain’s highest profile Egyptologist.’

The Lost Testament: A 5000-year History of the People of the Bible
Published in November 2003 by Century in the UK
Translations in Italian, Polish, Hungarian and Russian
Sunday Times Magazine article

Review Quotes:

Sunday Times: ‘How Myth became history.’ ‘Rohl’s packs more into one book than most archaeologists-historians would attempt to set down in a lifetime.’

Daily Express: ‘The British explorer who is outdoing Hollywood’s Indiana Jones.’

The Lords of Avaris: Uncovering the Legendary Origins of the Western World
Published in February 2007 by Century in the UK

Review Quotes:

Colin Wilson, Archaeology Correspondent for the Daily Mail: ‘The Lords of Avaris left me stunned and, like his previous books, convinced me that David Rohl is one of the most brilliant and original minds now engaged in writing ancient history. If he hadn't been a historian he would have been a terrific mystery writer.’

Exodus – Myth or History?
Published in May 2015 by Thinking Man Media in the USA

Available from

David's book 'From Eden To Exile' available from Greenleaf Press: