Chapter 10  Two and a Half Million Years of Archaeology

From the first stone pebble tools made by the early hominins probably more than two and a half million years ago to the latest technological inventions of today the change in the ability of humans to invent and produce tools and other “artifacts” is dramatic.  The sequence of changes can be followed step by step through time by examining the archaeological record.  What is left buried in the archaeological sites witnesses to much of what was happening in their lives.  While that record is a bit like a ladder with a few missing rungs, the ladder is indeed there and the rungs that are not missing give a valid picture of the past.  We may decry the missing rungs, but we should learn from the intact parts of the ladder.

The following pages present a summary of sequential archaeological sites in the general geographic area of the Bible’s origin.  It allows the archaeological events to be compared to the early biblical events for evaluation.  The point being made is that these are literal physical sites that can be evaluated and compared in both relative time and cultural level development.  The chronological and cultural sequences are literal and real.  In most cases their chronological sequence can be verified by superposition, radiometric and chemical dating methods, as well as, tool, ceramic, architectural, and cultural developmental sequences.

We begin with the first human technology and end with the beginning of the Old Babylonian Period starting about 2000 BCE.

(Note: The dates given in this summary are from various sources and dating methods.  They are judged to be relatively correct for comparison purposes but are not to be taken as technically precise.  They will vary somewhat from dating method to dating method, authority to authority, or writer to writer, and time to time.  In nearly all cases, even if they are off by a considerable amount it does not alter the relative chronology and the logic of our prehistoric understanding.  The site descriptions are greatly abbreviated for simplicity and clarity.)

Oldowan Pebble Tools (2½ + million years ago)  Africa.

The earliest stone tools are found in the archaeological environment of Homo habilis (see chapter 9) and similar hominins that lived about the same time.   These simple stone tools are flakes of stone and
 cobbles that have been struck with other rocks to create edges and surfaces that can serve as simple tools.  The samples shown are not actual Oldowan tools.  They are much more recent and made merely to illustrate what Oldowan tools look like.  Such pebble tools are first found in the archaeological record about 2.5 million years ago.   Some believe they may occur even earlier. These artifacts are the very first beginnings of the archaeological record!  They have been given the general name, Oldowan tools. 

Similar flake tools continue to be found in the archaeological record ever since they were first produced.  They are easily made and still useful for certain jobs.  Once in the field I needed a sharp edge to trim a loose flap from the sole of my tennis shoe.  A quick flake knocked off a nearby quartzite cobble provided a sharp edge that nicely cut off the loose flap.  Stone tools can still come in handy when a pocket knife is not available.

A word about stone tools and stone tool cultures

Because stone tools are the product of the human mind and hand manipulation they are found to take on many similar features that can be grouped into “cultures.”  In the case of pebble tools there is little variation in the possibilities of what can be created.  With the advent of the hand axe various creative possibilities become available and begin to show up in the record.  These early tool groupings that include hand axes are commonly called the Acheulian.  The Acheulian includes not only hand axes but  also stone tools like picks, scrapers, chopping tools, awls, flakes, and hammerstones.  These tools are basically made by knocking flakes of rock off the core piece.

Later tool manufacturing techniques change and tools are made by constructing a special “cores” of material that can be struck and produce specially formed broad flakes.  This is called the Levallois technique and is the basis of the Middle Paleolithic culture called Mousterian.  It would seem to require much more mental capability than the more simple Acheulian, just as the Acheulian requires more mental capability than does the production of pebble tools.

Tool making techniques evolve dramatically as do the cultural names that define them.  Identifying and defining these later tool cultures is way beyond the scope of this work.  So such terms will be used at a minimum.  Just as we will see that ceramic cultures can be used to compare and trace cultural relationships, development, and cultural transfer among human groups, so can stone tool cultures.  Architectural  constructions can also be used in a similar way.

The Lower Paleolithic Time Period (ca. 2 million years ago to 80,000 years ago)

The Acheulian cultural period of the Lower Paleolithic time period   (2 million – 250,000 yrs. BP)

About 1.7 million years ago a new advanced tool type begins to be found, the so called hand ax.  These are associated with hominins such as Homo erectus and Homo ergaster who possessed considerably larger brains than the earlier hominins.  Hand axes seem to be the result of a significant cognitive advance in the brain of their makers.  Hand axes  continue to be a dominant hominin tool type for the next million plus years in the archaeological record. 

The hand axe was a multipurpose tool that could be used for cutting, digging, chopping, scraping, throwing, and many other uses.  It was a useful tool that was used for a long time by hominins.  Of course a multitude of other stone tools occur along with the hand axes.  These tools are scrapers, pickschopping and pounding tools of various sorts, burins, awls, etc.  The hand axe is perhaps  the most sophisticated consistent tool in the toolbox of Acheulian time.  Examples are shown below.

Lower Paleolithic sites...

Ubeidiya  (ca. 1-1½ million yrs. BP) (BP = Before Present)

This site is about two miles south of the Sea of Galilee.   It is estimated to have been inhabited by hominins about 1-1½ million years ago (Bar-Yosef and Goren-Inbar 1993:21). 

The site contains numerous hand axes and other stone tools, faunal remains, and a few hominin skull fragments and teeth, sometimes attributed to Homo ergaster but apparently not terribly definitive.

The site is composed of deposits of shallow lake and near lake margin fluvial deposits.  After the sediments and remains of early hominin activities were deposited, major structural distortions occurred in connection with the opening and development of the  Dead Sea rift valley.  The sediment beds were contorted and uplifted by major earth movements.  As can be seen in the picture on the next page, the beds that were deposited horizontally which contain the hominin artifacts at Ubeidiya are now tilted up at an angle of 60° or more.  Sediment deposited in the much later Lisan Lake which filled this valley from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea (Estimated to have been in existence from 70,000 to 18,000 years ago (Horowitz 1979:151; 2001:545))  covered the site.  Remnants of those deposits can still be seen near the site.  These continue to lie in the horizontal position in which they were deposited.  This indicates how little major geologic disturbance of this part of the Rift Valley has occurred since their deposition.  Today eroded cliffs of this material can be seen several hundred feet east of the Ubeidiya excavations.  These Lisan sediments once covered the Ubeidiya site but have since been eroded off.   They are an excellent superposition indicator of the sequence of the geologic and archaeologic events.     

                           Layer I-26 of Ubeidiya which contained the hominin artifacts and hand axes.    

The Lisan Formation.  Thinly laminated lake clays and minerals  that were deposited in Lake Lisan that extended from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee.  It is estimated to have been in existence from about 70,000 to about 18,000years ago.  This cliff is immediately east of the Ubeidiya  site.  The sediments originally covered that site but have since been eroded off.  They are still lying in the horizontal position in which they were deposited, in stark contrast to the Ubeidiya strata. The early archaeological site of Jericho (discussed later in this chapter) could only have begun to form after Lake Lisan had disappeared. 

 Gesher Benot Ya’aqov  (ca. 700,000 yrs. BP) 

This is another Lower Paleolithic site near Ubeidiya.  While I have visited this site I have no pictures of it.  It occurs along the Jordan River as it leaves the Hula Valley north of the Sea of Galilee.  It is about 25 miles northeast of the Ubeidiya site.

The age of the occupation of this site is estimated to be around 700,000 years ago (Goren-Inbar 2018:36).  It is thus considered to be considerably younger than Ubeidiya.  However its tool culture is still considered to be Acheulian and has hand axes.  The site’s structure and relationship to the rest of the valley are not as simple and easily described or visualized as that of Ubeidiya.

Tabun Cave (ca. 630,000 yrs. BP)

This is one of the important Paleolithic caves of the Mt. Carmel area on Israel’s coast that contains ancient hominin artifacts.  It contained both Lower Paleolithic Acheulian and the later Middle Paleolithic Mousterian artifacts .  The older Tabun Cave deposits are estimated to be as old as 630,000 years.  The artifacts are of clear Acheulean affinity with numerous hand axes.

Qesem Cave  (200–420,000 yrs. BP)

The culture of the artifacts found is a cultural stage between Acheulean and Mousterian.  The use of fire was prevalent.  The 13 human teeth found seem to have affinities to both Neanderthal and Early Modern Human.  The cave is a little NE of Tel Aviv (Gopher and Barkai, 2017:203-214).


The Middle Paleolithic Time Period  (ca. 100,000? – 40,000 yrs. BP) 

In much later sites than Ubeidiya , Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, and other caves near Israel’s coast is found the next major change in tool making termed the Mousterian.  This stone tool culture was based on more complicated manipulation of stone cores to produce usable flakes.  These stone “cores” were specially fashioned to control the shape and thickness of the flake that would be taken off.  The flakes thus formed could then be more easily fabricated into spear or projectile points, knives, scrapers, etc.  The skill required for this development are thought to witness advanced brain development and skill capabilities.  These types of tools are often associated with the Neanderthals.   France and surrounding areas of Europe contain an extensive record of this time period.  However, sites of this time period also occur in the Levant and other areas of the Near East.

Middle Paleolithic sites...

 Tabun Cave  (ca.  100,000 (?) - 45,000 yrs. BP)

Middle Paleolithic deposits overlie the older Lower Paleolithic artifacts.  The cultural features of these deposits are Mousterian, known by the abundance of flake tools struck from specially designed flint cores.  Many similar Middle Paleolithic Levallois-Mousterian tools are found outside the cave, embedded  in the terra rossa soil formed on the limestone of Mt. Carmel.

 Skhul Cave  (ca. 130-100,000 yrs. BP)

Another of the Mt. Carmel caves that contains unique and puzzling 100-130,000? year old hominin fossils that appear to be nearly equivalent to anatomically modern humans.

Qafzeh Cave  (ca. 115,000-92,000 yrs. BP)

Qafzeh Cave is located on the outskirts of Nazareth, Israel.  It has two main periods of deposition, One around 92,000 - 115,000 years old of the Middle Paleolithic and another 27,000—32,000 years old of the Upper Paleolithic.  Human remains of five individuals were found in the lower deposits.  They possess characteristics much like Homo sapiens.  Because of their sapien characteristics and their considerable age they, along with the human fossils in Skhul Cave, have presented many questions for paleoanthropologists.

Kebara Cave  (ca. 65,000 to 48,000  yrs. BP)

Kebara Cave is also in the Mt. Carmel area of the Israel coast.  It, like Tabun Cave, has deposits of dramatically differing ages.  The lower and older deposits are of Middle Paleolithic culture and age while the overlying younger deposits are of Upper Paleolithic age and culture.  The Middle Paleolithic artifacts are of Levallois-Mousterian culture.  The hominin fossils within the Middle Paleolithic deposits are, by different authorities,  considered to be Neanderthal or within the range of Homo sapiens.

Amud Cave  (ca. 70,000 yrs. BP)

A stream flows into the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee.  Along this stream are a number caves, one of these, Amud cave, is significant because of the human fossils found in it.  The oldest deposits, which include abundant ash and remnants of fires, were about 12 feet thick and considered occupied about the time of the establishment of Lake Lisan (See Ubeidiya site explanation).  This would be about 70,000 years ago.  The human fossil remains found in these deposits have been controversial but seem most likely to be Neanderthal.

Shanidar Cave  (ca. 46,000 yrs. BP)

On the eastern side of Mesopotamia but still a part of the Near Eastern context is Shanidar Cave.  This cave is about 75 miles east of Mosel in the Zagros Mts.  It contained nine Neanderthal skeletons from strata dated around 46,000 years old.  Overlying these older Middle Paleolithic strata are  deposits that contained many burials of modern Homo sapiens dating to the Upper Paleolithic 10 or 12,000 years ago. (Solecki 1971).


The Upper Paleolithic Time Period (ca. 40,000 yrs. BP to about 10,000 BCE)

Note shift in terminology: BP = before present to BCE = before common era.  A 2,000 year difference.   BCE will be used as date terminology in the remainder of this sequence for simplification. 

There is a rich archaeological record of this time period in western Europe, especially France.  The next advance in stone tool technology was striking long blades from specially prepared cores.  This technology is commonly associated with Homo sapiens, especially in Europe.  The time period begins around 40,000 years ago.  At this time, in addition to the increased use of specially formed blades, is found an explosive occurrence of other specialized tools, art works, carvings, cave painting, and even instruments that produced musical tones.  It was an apparent time of greatly expanded mental capacities as witnessed by the artifacts found.

Certainly France and other areas of Northwestern Europe are the most prolific for producing material from this time period.  However, numerous occurrences of similar artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic time period are also found throughout the Near East.

The Upper Paleolithic is a time of tremendous innovation in hominin culture.  A statement by Richard Klein sums this observation well.

Although it may seem peculiar to us that material items should suggest so little cultural differentiation before 40-35 ka, the amount that characterizes the succeeding period is reminiscent of more recent history.  The extensive cultural variability of the past 40-35 ky almost certainly required the existence of modern people, with their seemingly infinite capacity for innovation. (Klein 2009:664) (Emphasis mine).

Great details of this expansive creativity encountered in the archaeology of this time can be found in the reference works listed at the end of this chapter or in many modern museums.  Because of copyright restrictions and expense they cannot be reproduced here.  It is a time of greatly expanded mental capabilities in the human line.

The standard archaeological time frame for the Upper Paleolithic of Europe contains the Magdalenian culture at dates of 17,000-11,000 years ago and the Aurignacian at 35-29,000 years ago.  When I was completing my doctoral studies on prehistory I personally completed the lab work for radiocarbon dating animal bone from layers of Aurignacian and “Proto-Magdalenian” at the French site of Abri Pataud. These bones gave ages of 19,000 years for the “Proto-Magdalenian” and 31,000 years for the Aurignacian bones (Burky, 1996:48, 52).   These dates nicely witness to these time frames.

The Upper Paleolithic of Europe contains many examples of advanced technologies of the Homo sapiens of the time.  At this time there was a great blossoming of human culture and a flourish of art works as well, including many well known cave painting sites.  (See: Leroi-Gourhan, 1967; Chauvet, et. al. 1996; Ruspoli, 1986; Ramos, 1998)

Upper Paleolithic sites...

Qafzeh Cave  (ca. 32,000-27,000 yrs. BP)

Qafzeh Cave on the outskirts of Nazareth, Israel has two main periods of deposition, Middle Paleolithic, already described, and Upper Paleolithic.  The Upper Paleolithic deposits are dated to 27,000—32,000 years old.  A few partial human skeletal remains are found in these.  The deposits contain typical Upper Paleolithic artifacts.

 Kebara Cave (ca. 65,000 to 48,000 yrs. BP)

The Upper Paleolithic artifacts found in the deposits of Kebara Cave are dated between 65,000 and 48,000 years old.  They are culturally defined as Ahmarian and Aurignacian.  Some evidence of early Natufian (described later in this sequence) is also found in the upper levels of the cave.

Ohalo II  (ca. 23,000 yrs. BP)

This site was dated by radiocarbon to about 23,000 BP.  It is located on the southwest edge of the Sea of Galilee.  The site was submerged and waterlogged for many years.  This preserved many of its organic materials originally used on the site.  It was discovered in 1989 after a three year drought and reduction in lake size.  Food remains include seeds, fish bones, birds, gazelle, fallow deer, hare, pig, deer, and wild cattle.  Tools include possible nets, net weights, grinding stones, stone bowls, and wood implements.  Remnants of brush huts with grass bedding were also present. (Nadel 2017:291).

The Natufian (Often referred to as “Epipaleolithic”) (ca. 10,500 – 8,500 BCE)

While the Upper Paleolithic was winding down in Europe and transitioning into the Mesolithic, many things were happening in the Levant, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.  Because of these areas’ relationship to the biblical context it is to them we will look as the developmental story progresses.  

The term Natufian was basically applied to the time in the Near East  when humans were beginning to form larger groups and communities and beginning to build semi-permanent or permanent living structures rather than living in caves or camps and continually moving about in search of food…  The “hunting and gathering” lifestyle.  The Natufian is thus a time period between the older, mobile life style of hunting and gathering and the settled lifestyle of the early farmers and herdsmen, the Neolithic.  The Natufian is a major time of cultural transition.

 Natufian Sites...

Ain Mallaha (Eynan) (ca. 12,000—10,000 BCE) 

Located in the Lake Hula basin north of the Sea of Galilee, amidst the marshes and lake shore environment of the area.  The limestone blocks were used as supporting walls in some of the dwellings.  One house had a wall of red painted lime plaster, which is among the earliest known for this technique.  Some roofs were supported with posts.  Most houses had stone hearths.  Many graves were found in the area.  Three stages of occupation were found at the site.  Tools are made of basalt and flint, both common in the area.  Natufian architecture was first identified here in 1955.  In the later levels of the site obsidian imported from Turkey was found.

Shanidar Cave (ca. 10,000-8,600 BCE)

Strata deposited on top of those layers in which Neanderthal skeletons were found.  These contain multiple burials with culture that dates from about 10,000—8,600 BCE.

 Beidha (Early) (ca. 10,130-8,900 BCE)

A well known site near Petra in southern Jordan.  The site is most noted for its large, later Neolithic settlement.  However, underneath the Neolithic occupation layer and separated from it by about five feet of alluvium is a Natufian occupational horizon.  Five radiocarbon dates range from ca. 10,910—10,130 BCE for the lower Natufian level and a date of ca. 8,900 BCE for an upper Natufian level (Byrd 1991).

Abu Hureyra 1 (ca. 9,500 - 8,000 BCE)

Abu Hureyra is a site on the right bank of the Euphrates River in its middle reaches.  It had to be excavated because of the area being flooded by the Tabqa Dam creating Lake Assad about 50 miles east of Aleppo, Syria.  The general site is large, about 29 acres.  The site consists of two superimposed settlements.  The older and much smaller, Abu Hureyra 1, is a hunter and gatherer community with pit dwellings first, then wood and reed huts, and a later and much larger Neolithic farming village with mudbrick houses, called Abu Hureyra 2.  Radiocarbon dates indicate that Abu Hureyra 1 was occupied from ca. 9,500 - 8,000 BCE.  The excavators believe that Abu Hureyra was unique in that it was inhabited year round.  This would seem to make it similar to the Ain Mallaha site listed above.  The site appears to have been inhabited for about 1,500 years in the Natufian. (Moore 1991)

Mureybet  (ca. 10,200-8,000 BCE)

Like its sister site Abu Hureyra, nearby but on the other side of the Euphrates River, Mureybet was a site rich in river valley and adjacent steppe resources allowing even hunting and gathering people to live at the site on a near permanent basis.  Addition of domesticated plant and animal resources eventually enhanced this permanent residence.  The site begins with dwellings of shallow pits and half buried habitation features, develops through round houses, and ends with habitations with long rectangular rooms built of mud.

El-Wad Cave (ca. 10-8,000? BCE) 

Mt. Carmel on the North coast of Israel.  Natufian cultural remains were common but specific dates were more difficult to find.  Later Neolithic cultural material were also found on the site.

Gobekli Tepe

(ca. 9,600-8,500 years BCE) (Bachenheimer, 2018:83; Tatar & Nagis,2016)

Gobekli Tepe is located in the eastern foothills of the Taurus Mountains on a mountaintop overlooking the Plains of Haran.  It is a site on which was found a series of what may be some of the earliest human temples.  They certainly appear to be a major development for some type of religious purpose.  Archaeological sites in the surrounding areas of equivalent age have standing stone structures similar to those found at Gobekli Tepe.  These were built in a time period before settled agriculture was fully developed.  People were still hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants for food.  Pottery had not yet been invented.  It is thought that people gathered to this site for religious and communal purposes.  It took a great deal of effort to build the large enclosures with their many standing stone pillars.  The large stone pillars  themselves would have taken a tremendous amount of manpower to quarry, shape, carve, transport, and setup.  Yet the site does not seem to be one of year round occupation.

The site was only discovered in 1994.  It is made up of numerous circular enclosures which contain T-shaped  standing stone pillars, some as tall as 18 feet.  Others were only a meter or two high but still required significant work to be extracted from nearby limestone quarries with stone tools. The enclosures were eventually shut down and purposely buried with earth and debris.  New enclosures were then built over the old ones.

Other smaller, continually occupied, contemporary archaeological sites in the general vicinity had similar circular enclosures with standing pillars, but they were usually much smaller.

The Gobekli Tepe site seems to have been chosen as a “beacon on a hill” type of location.  It is not near springs of water that would have made it desirable for a continuous living community.  It seems more of a special gathering place for periodic use.  Its stone pillars and their setting in circular rooms are not unlike ones in other local occupation sites of similar age, but those at  Gobekli Tepe generally seem to be larger and apparently were not associated with a permanent occupation.  Geophysical surveys of the site indicates a sequence of as many as 21 enclosures (Bachenheimer, 2018:63) that probably contained standing stones when in use.  Many of these are older and had younger ones built on top of them.  The site is estimated to have been in use for about a thousand years.


The Neolithic  (ca. 8,500–4,300 BCE) 

This is a time period of early settled living in permanent, year round, dwellings when farming is becoming established with domesticated plants and animals becoming the dominant form of securing food.  Part way through the Neolithic  time period pottery was invented and became a major boon for archaeological study.  During most of the Neolithic agriculture was dependent upon natural precipitation.  These sites occur in areas of adequate natural rainfall.  As the Neolithic time period drew to a close, irrigation methods are invented and developed, making it possible to establish the large cities and civilizations of Lower Mesopotamia that developed in areas without adequate natural rainfall.  During most of the Neolithic communities had to be located in areas with sufficient rainfall to produce crops.  The is why most sites are located in the Levant,  Northern Mesopotamia, and in the foothills of the Taurus  and Zagros mountains.

The Neolithic is divided into two major periods.  The time before pottery was invented and used extensively and the time after.  Pottery is a terrific boon for archaeologists to trace cultural interaction. 

Technologies like stone tools, pottery, and architecture develop and evolve with time.  These cultural features, like superposition and dating techniques (Radiocarbon and various other methods), allow chronological placement of sites and archaeological remains.

Pottery is a superb technology for such cultural comparison.   It is ideal for archaeology.  Its primary constituent, clay, is everywhere available .  It is relatively cheap and easy to produce.  It breaks easily and, once broken, has no value and so is rapidly discarded.  Yet, its fragments are practically indestructible in the archaeological environment.  Its design, decoration, and style are representative  of the culture in which it was produced and so can be used to trace that culture.  It also consistently is evolving even within the culture in which it is produced.  For these reasons it can be effectively used in archaeology for identifying and tracing cultures and/or their influence.

This is especially true for the Near East.  For the area and time period we now want to concentrate on, there are four basic pottery cultures that will allow us to follow the cultural development through time and to compare one area with another.  These four are:

Hassuna (ca. 6,000-5,500 BCE)  The Hassuna style is one of the earliest to be found in the area and its development can be followed from site to site in Northern Mesopotamia.

Samarra (ca. 5,700-5,000 BCE)    Samarran is a very high quality pottery whose production is thought to be centered on the site of Tell-es-Sawwan on the Tigris north of Baghdad.  It occurs in many surrounding sites where it is interpreted as imported ware, rather than being locally made because its quality is so much better than that of the local ware.

Halaf (ca. 5,500-4,300 BCE)  The site of Tell Halaf after which the pottery culture was named was discovered by Baron Max von Oppenheim in 1899.  He excavated it in 1911-13, and again in 1927 and 1929.  (von Oppenheim 1933)  Two major periods of occupation occurred at the site.  The first was in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE.  It contained abundant pottery that was to give the name to the Halaf pottery style.  The second occupation was Assyrian and much later, around and after 1000 BCE.

Ubaid (ca. 5,500 BCE—4,000 BCE) A distinctive style of pottery first found by  Wooley at the site of Al Ubaid, four miles north of Ur.  Older editions of this Ubaid pottery were later found in the excavations at Eridu.  The details of the development periods for Ubaid pottery sequence were worked out by Joan Oates through the nineteen archaeological levels found at Eridu. (Oates 1960) 

These are:

      Ubaid 1  (Eridu levels XIX-XV)  (ca, 5,500-5,000 BCE)

      Ubaid 2  (Also known as the Hajji Muhammad period) (Eridu levels XIV-XII)  (5,000 BCE)

     Ubaid 3 (Eridu levels XII-VIII)  (4,500 BCE)

     Ubaid 4 (Late Ubaid)  (Eridu levels VII-VI) (4,500-4,000 BCE)

          (Dates from Maisels 1999:152)

The Ubaid pottery styles were wide-spread over both southern and northern Mesopotamia and so can be used for correlating the cultures of the area.  It seems difficult to tell if the Ubaid pottery styles originated in the south and spread north or originated in the north and spread south… Or maybe originated somewhere in between.  (Danti and Zettler 1997:258-9)

The relative dating of these pottery sequences can be determined by superposition which can often be verified with radiocarbon dating at other sites.  Even though many of the major sites were excavated prior to the development of radiocarbon dating, sites excavated later with equivalent cultural levels were subject to this dating technique.  This often allows their general time frames to be verified.

 Sites of the Neolithic...

Jericho (ca.  8,700 BCE—Present)

Considered by some “…one of the earliest settled communities in the world.” (Holland, 1997:221)(Kenyon, 1957:267)  The earliest excavated structure at Jericho, possibly a type of sanctuary or cultic place gives a radiocarbon date of ca. 9250 BCE (Mellaart 1975:36)  If this date is anywhere close to accurate it makes this feature about as old as Gobekli Tepe.  The difference is that Jericho is a living site with a permanent water supply and has been lived in most of the time since.  Jericho gives continuity to this time period all at one site.  Its archaeology is rather extensive and  complex, however, as one would expect.  The foldout of the cross section of Trench 1 in Kenyon 1957:268 makes this rather obvious.  Cultural development continued from prehistoric times  into the historic time period with some periods with no settlement. 

Çatalhöyük (7,400-6,000 BCE)

Located in the south central Anatolia… the New Testament area of Iconium.   It was a large settlement for such an early time. (Hodder, 2006:7; Mellaart , 1975:98-111)

The site was first discovered in 1958 and excavated 1961-1963 by James Mellaart who called it “the largest-known Neolithic site in the Near East” (Mellaart, 1975:98).  In 1993 Professor Ian Hodder of Stanford University began excavating the site and continued for many years.  Both have written books on the site.  In Hodder’s own words…

After all, the soil beneath me is filled with fascinating details about a town that was lived in by 3,000 to 8,000 people some 9,000 years ago.  The town extended over a massive 13.5 hectares (33.5 acres).  It was inhabited for about 1,400 years between 7400 BC and 6000 BC.  There are 18 levels of occupation as people abandoned old houses, filled them in, and built new ones on top.  So the mysteries of Çatalhöyük include its great size and duration at a very early date – when people had started settling down into permanent villages and had begun domesticating plants and animals (Hodder, 2006:7).

Çatalhöyük had a very unique town plan.  The houses are so tightly compacted together that they are all entered from the roof.   One proceeds down into the house by means of a ladder.  To get from one house to another or to the fields, or to fetch water, or to carry out sewage and garbage, one had to walk across the neighbor’s rooftops.  There were no streets and alleys.  When a house had to be rebuilt, its interior was leveled out and its walls served as foundations for new walls.  Burials of the dead were within the houses.

By the time of Çatalhöyük pottery had been invented.  Baked clay figurines are also common.  Wood bowls are in use.  The houses were notably decorated with artwork and especially with the horns of wild aurochs and other animal parts such as wild boar tusks.  Metals were not yet widely used.  Some copper and lead items are found as trinkets but not used for tools.  That was to come later.  Some high quality obsidian spear point and dagger knapping was done at Çatalhöyük.
Note;  Two issues of Near Eastern Archaeology (Vol. 83, issue 2 and issue 3,  June and September 2020) were dedicated to the 25 years of research at Çatalhöyük.

Abu Hureyra 2 (ca. 9,500-5,000 BCE)

From the radiocarbon dates, this site was judged continuously occupied from ca. 9,500 BCE to 5,000 BCE. (Moore et. al. 2000:104)

Abu Hureyra is one of the few archaeological sites in the world to have revealed the remains of a settlement of hunters and gatherers that developed into a village of early farmers.  (Moore et. al. 2000, Preface)

The same comment could probably be made for its neighbor Mureybet a bit further up the river and on the other bank of the Euphrates.  They were in a somewhat unique naturally productive, multi-resource, environment.   Both sites were long lived and seemed to straddle the transition from a hunter-gatherer to a sedentary farming economy and way of life.   The environment was so rich people could live in one place much of the year.

Mureybet (ca. 10,000-6,800 BCE)

The earliest occupation at this site appears to be Natufian around ca. 10,000 BCE. (Ibáñez 2008:662)  That occupation appears to have continued on and developed more fully throughout the Neolithic.  The latest occupation of the site appears to be about 6,800 BCE.

Çayönü (ca. 7,250-6,750 BCE)

Radiocarbon dates put its occupation between ca. 7,250-6,750 BCE. (Braidwood & Çambel 1982:4)  The site is in the headwaters of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey.  It is over 7 acres in area.  Sheep and possibly goats seem to have been domesticated in the later levels of the site.  Houses were certainly constructed and the settlement permanently established.  No ceramic pottery was found in the main site but a few pieces were found in the upper, later levels of unknown age.  Chipped stone tools of flint and obsidian were common.  Ground stone tools were also abundant.  Hunted game animals was a large source of their animal protein.  Domesticated wheat and pulses were found but  not barley.  Çayönü seems to have been an early settled community with incipient domestication of plants and animals.

‘Ain Ghazal  (ca. 7,250-5,000 BCE)

A Neolithic site discovered in the 1970’s near Aman, Jordon that is considered to have been occupied continually from 7,250 to 5,000 BCE. (Rollefson et. al. 1992:443).  The site is a large one of over 30 acres in area.  The occupation dates are based on a large number of radiocarbon dates.  The later levels of the site have produced ceramic pottery.

Beidha  (ca. 7,000-6,500 BCE )

An early permanently settled site a few miles from Petra in Jordan.  Previously mentioned because of its Natufian archaeology, Beidha is most prominent for its early, non-ceramic Neolithic record.  PPNB Beidha, while lacking pottery, has mortars, pestles, querns, grinding slabs, sickles, and grain storage areas.  The Neolithic village  existed from ca. 7,000 to 6,500 BCE (Kirkbride 1968:263).  Partially eroded away, a little over an acre remains.  About half of this has been excavated.  Barley, wheat, pistachio nuts and acorns were used for food.  Walls and floors were plastered.  Homes had indoor fireplaces.  Housing structures were apparently transformed substantially during the duration of the site.

Jarmo (ca. 6,700 BCE)

A site in the foothills of the Zagros Mts.,  a little over 3 acres in size, which witnessed the introduction of pottery.  It lasted about 300 years and was occupied around 6,700 BCE.  Jarmo had some ceramics, most of which may have been imported but had multiple stone vessels of high levels of craftsmanship.  They possessed a wide variety of shapes and were of a thinness and high polish that made them aesthetically pleasing.

Jarmo was a permanent village establishment with perhaps twenty or more houses and of rather long duration.  Its people possessed at least the domestic goat, two kinds of wheat and a barley, and a variety of artifacts adapted to the cultivation, storage, and processing of vegetable foods.  Compared to what preceded it the Jarmo assemblage was elaborate, but it retained elements in its flint-working tradition which were at least as early as the Zarzian in ancestry. (Braidwood and Howe 1960:183)

The phenomenon of permanent settlements without pottery was originally encountered for the first time during the excavations of the small settlement of Qalat Jarmo, where, beneath five layers that contained a limited amount of simple pottery, a series of eleven layers was found that contained no pottery, in spite of indisputable evidence pointing to the existence of a permanent settlement and to a high percentage of produced food.  (Nissen1988:27)

Tell Maghzaliya  (ca. 7,500 BCE) (Aceramic)  (15 building levels)

Located in an area of the Sinjar mountain foothills (the Sinjar Plain) about 50 miles west of Mosul.  This area contained many tells, among which are a cluster of sites, somewhat sequential in date of occupation, which includes Tell Maghzaliyah, Tell Sotto, and Yarim Tepe I, II, and III.  These sites were excavated by Russian archaeologists in the 1970’s.  The sites confirm the sequence from the nonceramic, to early Hassuna, the Halaf cultures and even Ubaid. 

Tell Maghzaliya is, however, an aceramic site and the oldest of this group of sites.  It was considered contemporaneous with the site of Jarmo by the excavators.    The houses of this site were built like those of Jarmo, stone foundations and pisé walls on top.  Pisé is not mud brick rather it is simply soft clay stacked by the handfuls on top of the stone foundation.  15 building levels with no obvious break in the sequence were discovered at the site.  Numerous stone artifacts  are found, including projectile points and blades for cutting grain.  The site had many stone tools for processing grain.  Clay was abundantly used, but apparently not fired.  A number of stone vessels are found.  The excavator’s conclusions...

In general, Tell Maghzaliyah presents us with the remains of a culture possessing an advanced lithic technology and a highly developed architectural tradition but is still apparently aceramic….
Differences in the level of lithic technology and in the types of flint and obsidian tools indicate that a significant chronological gap exists between Tell Sotto and Maghzaliyah…. 

Tell Maghzaliyah is a large, fully sedentary settlement...  Its economy represents the final phase in the development of early food production, with both plant cultivation and animal husbandry present. (Bader 1993:23,25, 39)

Unfortunately no radiocarbon dates could be found for the site. 

Tell Sotto  (ca. 6,500 BCE)  (Pottery: Proto-Hassuna ?)  ( 7 occupation levels)

Early ceramics begin to be found on this later site.  They are not yet fully compatible with the first major ceramic culture of the area, the Hassuna.  The conclusion of its excavator:

A significant amount of continuity can be traced between archaic Hassuna sites and the earliest phase at Tell Sotto.  Tell Sotto represents an unknown early stage of Hassuna, perhaps a Proto-Hassuna.  Tell Hassuna, Tell Sotto, and Umm Dabaghiyah constitute early agricultural settlements within a single cultural sphere. (Bader 1993a:47-48)

Yarim Tepe I  (ca. 5,200 BCE) (Pottery: Hassuna and Samarra)  ( 8 occupation levels)

In levels 1-6 the majority of the ceramics are of Hassuna standard culture.  Some ceramics from the Samarra style also occur along with these.  In level 6 (lower) pottery of the Hassuna archaic style was found and below that in some of the lowest trenches is found the oldest known pottery in the area,  designated as “Coarse Neolithic ware.”  It has been suggested that the Samarra pottery, which is usually a much higher quality pottery, has been imported from its central area on the Tigris north of Baghdad, and was not made locally in these scattered areas to the northwest.

Two radiocarbon dates are reported for Yarim Tepe I, level 7:  5090 BCE and 5200 BCE. (Merpert 1993:126)

Yarim Tepe II  (ca. 4,800-4,200 BCE) (Pottery:  Halaf)  ( 9 building levels)

Into the deserted tell of Yarim Tepe I, the people from Yarim Tepe II dug  burials for their dead so the sequence of the two tells is not in question.  The ceramic culture of Yarim Tepe II also changed.  It was now the Halaf culture. The excavator states, ”Painted pottery is common at all Halaf sites, but so far, no other site has produced the great diversity seen at Yarim Tepe.” 

There can be no doubt, however, that the 7-meter thick deposits of Yarim Tepe II reflect a very long period of development.  That this development had begun relatively early is confirmed by radiocarbon determinations from various levels of settlement (4840 ±180 B.C. to 4210 ±130 B.C. …

We can conclude that in the late sixth or at the beginning of the fifth millennium B.C. in the Sinjar plain the Hassuna culture was replaced by a new and genetically alien Halaf culture.  (Merpert and Munchaev 1993:159-161)

Yarim Tepe III  (ca.  4,500 BCE   )  (Pottery: Halaf in lower 8 meters, Ubaid in the upper 4 meters, Some Hassuna sherds are even reported in the lower most parts of the site)

This is the largest of the mounds in this local group.  The tell is 225 meters in diameter and contains cultural deposits 12 meters thick.  The lower 8 meters of the deposit are associated with the Halaf culture while the upper 4 meters are associated with the Ubaid culture.  This gives us the final  step in the ceramic cultural sequence showing that it is indeed a sequence of developments that occurred over a considerable time span.

This Neolithic time period as expressed in the Yarim Tepe area is nicely summarized in Maisels 1999:124-156.

Tell Hassuna  (ca. 5,500 BCE) (Pottery: Hassuna and Halaf)  ( 15 building levels)

20 miles due south of Mosul.  A site that witnessed a change from the campsites of wandering hunters and gatherers overlain by  six levels of small houses.  In these six levels are found increasing qualities of ceramics.  The first level had crudely made pottery.  Next, what has come to be called “Archaic ware” was found.  In the three levels above this was found what is called “Standard Hassuna” ceramics. (Lloyd 1984:69).

Levels VI –X Halaf period.  Level XI Ubaid pottery begins. (Perkins 1949:25) 

Radiocarbon date reported for Tell Hassuna, stratum 5: 5080 BCE. (Merpert 1993:126)

Tell Halaf  (ca. 5,500- ?, ? -1,000 BCE) 

About 100 miles to the west of the Sinjar region at the head waters of the Khabur River.  The site of Tell Halaf after which the pottery culture was named was discovered by Baron Max von Oppenheim in 1899.  He excavated it in 1911-13, and again in 1927 and 1929.  (von Oppenheim 1933)  Two major periods of occupation occurred at the site.  The first was in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE.  It contained abundant pottery that was to give the name to the Halaf pottery style.  The second occupation was Assyrian and much later, around and after 1000 BCE.

Tepe Gawra  (ca. 5,000-3,200BCE)  (Pottery: Halaf, Ubaid,  Uruk* and Jemdet Nasr*)  ( 20 occupation levels)

(* Uruk and Jemdet Nasr are pottery periods that follow the Ubaid in Southern Mesopotamia.  They are named after sites in which the pottery occurs there.)

Tepe Gawra is a large site about 15 miles northeast of modern Mosul, near the ancient site of Nineveh.  It was first excavated under the direction of  noted biblical scholar, E. A. Speiser.  This archaeological site stratigraphically connects the Neolithic cultural sequence in Northern Mesopotamia with the cultural development of the large urban centers in Southern Mesopotamia during the fourth century BCE.

Level XX (20) belongs to the Halaf period (Perkins 1949:22).  Here in levels XII to XIX was found Ubaid pottery from a time period which was contemporary to that found  at Eridu. (Lloyd 1984:68).  In levels above 12 are found Uruk and Jemdet Nasr pottery similar to that of Southern Mesopotamia, with which it was contemporary. (Speiser 1935, Tobler 1950)

Tepe Gawra is an important site because it gives an almost continuous sequence of occupations from the late Halafian period through the end of the Late Chalcolithic/Uruk period (Rothman 1997:183).

Tell Brak  (ca. 6,000-1,200 BCE)  (Pottery Halaf, Ubaid, Uruk)

This is one of the largest tells in northeastern Syria.  Earliest occupation is ca. 6,000-5,000 BCE in Hassuna and Halaf times.  It is not yet fully excavated.  It’s upper archaeology reaches into the Mitanni Period .  It shows considerable connections to Southern Mesopotamia in many of the intervening time periods like the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods.  The later Accadian Empire made Brak an administrative center with a palace.  This was later destroyed.  Eventually Brak became a major occupation center during the Mitanni Period (ca. 1,500 to 1,300 BCE) after which it was abandoned.

In addition to pottery and architectural characteristics, other aspects of Uruk southern Mesopotamian material culture have emerged from Brak, including cylinder seas, a clay tablet with numerical notations, and two pictographic tablets in an unusual style.  The significance of southern material culture at Brak, as well as Brak’s expansion to full-fledged urban size, remains to be fully understood.  One view identifies Brak as a southern Mesopotamian “colony” controlling the route to the copper mines of eastern Anatolia; an alternative perspective suggests that local elites were emulating the prestigious styles of southern Mesopotamia in order to reinforce their own status and power. (Schwartz 1997:355)

 Moving beyond the Neolithic...  The next major time period in the Levant would be called the Chalcolithic (When copper began to be used fairly extensively) and after that the Bronze Age.  We will, however, not use these terms, however, but proceed with actual years BCE.

Southern Mesopotamia was practically devoid of settlement through most of the Neolithic.  The Neolithic farmers were concentrated in the foothill regions of  the Zagros and Taurus Mountains  and coastal Levant regions where there was adequate rainfall to permit farming without irrigation.  The invention of irrigation allowed Southern Mesopotamia to begin to be developed in a major way.

Development of Southern Mesopotamia  between ca. 5,000-2,500 BCE

While there were some large settlements at places like Çatalhöyük between 10,000 and 5,000 BCE there were many scattered smaller “communities” throughout Anatolia, the Levant, and the Zagros Mountains to the east.  Peoples from some of these various areas migrated into Southern Mesopotamia to form farm communities and eventually “cities” starting sometime around or after 5,000 BCE.

Starting with “cities”  and city states around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE they eventually developed into local dynasties during the early 3rd millennium as one city state exerted its control over surrounding city states.  Aggressive kings of some city states forcibly exerted control over their weaker neighbors.  This allowed them to build bigger temples to their gods and make a grander show for themselves.  Some names of these dynasties may be familiar to us… Uruk, Ur, Eridu, Kish, Lagash, etc.  Each site has a lengthy, detailed story to tell.  The first writing was developed in this area about 3200 BCE. 

It is enlightening to examine the archaeological history of four of these cities; three of which are mentioned in the Bible.

 Eridu (ca. 5,500-600 BCE) (Pottery: Ubaid) (At least 20 levels of occupation, all Ubaid)

Considered one of the oldest “cities” in Southern Mesopotamia, Eridu, lies fourteen miles south of Ur.  The site is large, about 60 acres.   It contains a long succession of superimposed temples for its patron god Ea or Enki.  A ziggurat was built there by Amar-Sin about 2050 BCE. 

Ur (ca. 4500-400 BCE) 

The biblical birthplace of Abraham but it is a much older city than Abraham’s time.  It was occupied for nearly 4,000 years, from Ubaid times to the Neo-Babylonian.  It was made famous by being excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Ur was estimated as a fairly large settlement, for its time, about 25 acres in the Ubaid period.  In the 24th century during the time of the Akkadian empire the daughter of Sargon of Akkad served as priestess to Nanna the moon god and patron god of Ur .

  A most important period for Ur was the time known as the Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2,100-2,000 BCE).   At this time Ur was the dominant power in Southern Mesopotamia.  Its size is estimated to have reached 120+ acres.  It came to this level of prominence after the demise of the extensive empire of the Akkadians.   During this time of prominence king Ur-Nammu built a massive ziggurat at Ur.

Elamites destroyed Ur at the end of the Third Dynasty of Ur, ending its century long dominance of Southern Mesopotamia.  The city was rebuilt by nearby kings and continued to exist, but did not recapture it’s previous dominance.  In Neo-Babylonian times Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus had the ziggurat, religious areas, and some residential areas rebuilt.  The city was abandoned about 400 BCE.

At this point in the chronological sequence we should consider...


When the Genesis account is considered in light of the archaeological context  that surrounds this date, the story takes on a totally different understanding.

Uruk (ca. 4,500-100 BCE)

Once irrigation technology developed so that the dry Mesopotamian  plain could be watered and rendered agriculturally productive many city states began to be established in Southern Mesopotamia.    The largest of these was Uruk (Biblical Erech, Gen. 10:10)  .  It started before 4,000 BCE, became a, if not the, major city from 3,500-3,300 BCE and continued as a major  center for over 3,000 years.   (Potts 2019)

 Early Dynastic Periods I—III  (ca. 2900-2350 BCE)

During this time many local city states developed throughout Southern Mesopotamia.  They fought one another for land, water, control and domination.  Certainly some became more prominent and dominating than others.  Power moved back and forth among them.  Some were recognized to have the leading gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon as their patron gods.   One such example is Nippur whose patron god was Enlil, the chief god of the pantheon.  Uruk had Anu and Inanna (Ishtar) (Venus) as patron god and goddess.  Ur’s patron god was Nanna, the moon god.

These city states continued to be the functioning political structure of Southern Mesopotamia until Sargon of Akkad subdued them and consolidated them into the world’s first empire.  That is the next chronological step.

 At this point in the chronological sequence we have another date to consider...


According to the dating given in Genesis, the Akkadian Period would have occurred about the time of the flood which, by biblical reconning, had reduced the area’s population to eight people and their offspring.  The literal nature and timing of the flood as described in Genesis thus simply does not fit the reality of what archaeology clearly reveals was going on in Mesopotamia at that time.  One must take a different approach to understanding Genesis.

 As with the Genesis creation account, so when the historical and archaeological setting of the Genesis flood account is considered it also takes on a vastly different appearance.  Considering the timing of the flood by the Genesis chronology, Mesopotamia from the Persian Gulf to the shores of the Mediterranean, was filled with the area’s first empire, controlling thousands and thousands of people, rather than being emptied of people by a devasting flood.  Even a local flood would have wiped out the headquarters of the empire.  If one were to extend the coverage of the flood to the area of Egypt, one likewise has a very serious problem.  Egypt was a fully populated thriving country, progressing from its 5th to 6th dynasty at this time.  Someone did not quickly exit the ark and rush to restart and continue the whole culture of Egypt we find in archaeology.

Akkadian Period (ca. 2350-2200 BCE)

 In the second half of the 3rd millennium there arose an extremely aggressive king in the area of Kish, Sargon of Akkad, who built what is considered the world’s first empire in the region.  The Akkadian Empire extended from the Persian Gulf across Mesopotamia all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.  It subjected and controlled most of the former dynasties and city states.   

Sargon died during his 56th year of reign.  His son Rimush succeeded him for 9 years, then his son Manishtusu ruled for another 15 years.  Naram-Sin, son of Manishtusu, then ruled an estimated 36 years.  Naram-Sin was one of the first Mesopotamian kings to declare himself a god.  The Empire disintegrated during the 25 year reign of Naram-Sin’s son Sharkalisharri. (The first historic mention of the name of Babylon apparently was made during the reign of Sharkalisharri, according to Foster  2016:23.  Babylon may have first begun to develop as a new, major urban center at that time.)

Eventually the Akkadian empire, as all empires, fell apart from internal weakness and external invasion.  In the power vacuum left by the demise of this once powerful empire, the Third Dynasty of Ur  eventually rose to dominate in Southern Mesopotamia.

Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2200 to 2000 BCE)

The city of Ur once again comes into prominence as a major political power after the demise of the Akkadian Empire.  It is now under the leadership of a king named Ur-Namma.  After about 200 years this dominant dynasty also waned and gave way to a time in Mesopotamia known as the Old Babylonian Period, starting about 2,000 BCE.  There is little serious conflict of the Bible with secular history after this time.  Perhaps the biggest questions revolve around the biblical story of the Exodus which has been covered as a separate chapter in this book.

With this we will end our chronological sequence of prehistory and early history of the Near East.  The purpose for examining this sequence was to compare its relationship to the early Genesis writings.

We have found that human beings have been living in the area for over a million years.  There has been a progressive development throughout this time in human creative mental development.  Stone tools have developed from crude flaked stone tools to highly sophisticated use of flint, obsidian, and even ground stone for multiple purposes.  Living conditions have progressed from seasonal migration for hunting and gathering while living in caves and crude shelters to permanent settlement with substantially built housing.  Food acquisition has moved from hunting and gathering to  farming and herding of domesticated plants and animals.  Pottery was invented and greatly diversified.  The sites listed in this sequence are only a fraction of the sites in the area.  And we also need to remind ourselves that this is only a limited area of the earth’s surface.  There is obviously a much bigger story to be told about human creation and development than the brief story of creation, Adam and Eve, and the Flood found in Genesis 1-11.  Human beings were living in the area for thousands of years before the stories of early Genesis.  This should give us pause to rethink what we believe about the stories of Genesis 1-11, who wrote them, and what we should take from them.

We must realize the Genesis 1-11 stories were compiled in a time when this knowledge was not available, nor could it have been comprehended by those for whom the stories were written.  “When I was a child I thought like a child.  When I became an adult I put away childish things.”  Until knowledge had been greatly expanded (Daniel 12:4) the true nature of human history could not have been known.  But since this true knowledge has become available, we must find a way to understand Genesis 1-11 differently.  When was this material written?  By whom?  What was their source of information?  When was it added to the biblical cannon?  …When the words of men were made the words of God.  The material is definitely not literal.  Why was it written as it was?  And who wrote it?  Such understanding requires a major restructuring of the beliefs of most fundamentalists.

It seems almost instinctive for religious people to consider their religious writings from past eras perfectly written and perfectly preserved.  Most religions do this.  It seems truer, in the case of the Bible, to consider it to be human writings about their past encounters with God.  This doesn’t demand a perfection and truth that is not really there. It allows for the errors and variations that are indeed present in the writings.  These errors should make it clear that the whole should not be taken as the literal, infallible, direct “Words of God.”

Belief in a perfectly written source, when such is not true, is a deception and patently false.  Such belief is not condoned by the morality expressed in the Bible.  It is not the proper and solid foundation for faith.  Faith must be based on the best truth one can obtain.

Maintaining a false concept of perfection counters the basic morality taught by the Bible.   The Bible is too important a book to have its validity undermined by a false belief in how it was constructed.  It must be understood for what it really is.  The truth from prehistory helps us do this.

Nearly all the developments mentioned in this chapter were accomplished before the time period of the Genesis 1 creation story of the biblical chronology.  Biblical chronology would start human history about the time as the large urban centers were developing in Southern Mesopotamia.  The biblical chronology of the Flood would put it at the time of the first great empire in Mesopotamia that extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.  This is certainly not reasonable.  We clearly must adopt a different understanding and explanation for such a flood story!

To my fundamentalist friends, of which I have many, I am sorry to have to bring this to your attention.  But I didn’t fabricate any of this prehistory.  I only looked, to the best of my ability, for what is true.  I believe the intelligent Creator that put this world together is a God of truth, whether we understand the extent of that truth or not.  We must strive to get the truest and best understanding we can and build faith on that truth.

Don’t blame God for things men have done and we have believed to be true for way too long!


 References for Chapter 10

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