Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 3
Chapter 35 Appendix
NEAR EASTERN MOUNDS
Does mound thickness provide us with an indication of great age of Near Eastern towns? Here are facts which indicate otherwise.
The Fertile Crescent extends from Ur (near the Persian Gulf) northward up to Babylon, Ashur, Nineveh, Haran, Carchemish, Ugarit, and thence downward along the Mediterranean through Syria and Palestine, and into Egypt to Thebes. The hollow of the Crescent is the Arabian Desert. Just north of the top of the rounded part is Ararat where the Ark came to rest.
Within that Crescent, throughout the entire Mesopotamia-Syria-Palestine region are to be found earthen mounds. Those mounds are all that remains of ancient towns and cities. Archaeologists call them "tells." which is the Arabic word for these low, rounded, earthen hills.
More than a century and a half ago, men first realized what those dirt heaps were, and archaeological digs into ancient cities and villages began.
The question we are here concerned with is how much time did it take to produce those mounds?
The mound sites are sometimes as much as 50 feet or more in height, and consist of successive levels of occupation before a level is reached which can be dated to the dynastic period in Egypt. At Jericho, for example, a layer of about 13 feet of clay was found above the bedrock. That 13 feet was composed of a series of mud floors, each with the faint outlines of foundations of mud dwellings. Above this were the remains of foundations of three successive rebuildings within the time period of a city wall. Above that were the remains of additional constructions. A single slice downward through it all revealed 26 levels.
Above the 26th level was an point of nonhabitation for an undefinable period of time (which modern archaeologists declare to have been "a thousand years"), and then above that was a level datable to the dynastic period.
It was Kathleen Kenyon's dig at Jericho, which produced this down-to-bedrock approach to digs that won her the acclaim of the archaeological world. It was felt that she had provided additional evidence that the Bible could not be true--or had she not shown that long ages of human habitation must have preceded the dynastic period of Egypt? As a result of her research, Jericho is said to be one of the oldest towns in the world, and the oldest continuously-inhabited one ever found.
We know that those occupational levels represent a sequence. Each level represents people living and working. Each higher level was built on top of the one below it, so each upper level must be younger than the one it was built upon.
What is the answer to all this? Specifically., how much time elapsed from the first human habitation to the beginning of the first dynastic period in Egypt? Was it thousands of years, as Kenyon maintained?
Let us examine those mound sites more closely. They are particularly characteristic of areas where construction was of mudbrick. Unfired brick is easy to make. Simply form it out of clay, let it dry in the sun and then use it to build house walls. Place straw over the top for roofing, and you are ready to move in and set up housekeeping!
The uniformitarian theory of modern archaeologists is that a certain period of time is required to produce a given height of a mound. Each mud-brick house is said to have survived for at least 50 to 100 years, and between each rebuilding, an extended period of non-habitation, or "hiatus," is said to have often occurred. Thus, a fair-sized mound is thought to have taken many thousands of years to be built up. Proof of the fact is the climatic conditions found in the Near East. Hardly any rain falls and mud-brick buildings last quite a while today, so it is obvious they should have been long-lasting in earlier ages. It has been said that probably only warfare or the decimation of a culture could have been responsible for the start of many of the new mound levels.
Now let us leave the theories and consider the facts:
The mud-bricks which both ancient and modern Near Eastern cultures have used were unfired bricks. Unfired bricks (also called mud-bricks or sun-dried bricks) are molded, laid out to dry, and then formed into the walls of houses. In contrast, fired bricks must be placed in kilns where very high temperatures harden them. Large numbers of fired bricks are to be found all over the ruins of old Babylon in southern Iraq today. After thousands of years, they still remain hard and fairly squared, each one revealing the stamped image of a lion with wings and a human head--and the name "Nebuchadnezzar." (Daniel 7:4 and 2:38) The fired bricks survived, but only the wealthiest could afford them.
But the unfired bricks are all gone. What caused them to disappear? One of two things. Yes, warfare might destroy the home, but rainfall did it even faster And it did it often in ancient times.
A major factor in the duration of a mud-brick structure would be the amount and severity of rainfall. Modern archaeologists declare that ancient mud-brick structures lasted 50 to 100 years, generally the latter. Ceram tells us that modern unfired-brick houses in the Near East rarely last more than 20 years:
"The buildings which make up these villages are still constructed of bricks of unfired claybricks which crumble under the baking sun and slowly dissolve under the sparse rain . . Such adobe houses seldom last more than twenty years." C. W. Ceram, The Secret of the Hittites, (1966), p. 6.
Today, in the dry Near East, we are told that mud-brick homes "slowly dissolve under the sparse rain.. [in]twenty years." What would happen if the kind of rain fell there that falls in most of Europe or North America?
"In April 1940, a terrific rain and hailstorm literally washed half of the mud-brick village [of Aquabah] away. Many of the mudbrick walls simple dissolved . . Small wonder that such bricks go to pieces during the first heavy rain!" Nelson Glueck, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 79, p. 12 (190).
Even Kenyon agreed:
"The growth of these tells [mounds] is particularly characteristic of those areas in which the local building material was mud-brick, for a destroyed building of mud-brick disintegrates into mud again, which cannot be used again in the same way that stone from a building can be. The growth of the tell is therefore more rapid." Kathleen M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (1960). pp. 30-31.
Garstang said about the same thing:
"Mud bricks, such as were used throughout the life history of Jericho, were peculiarly liable to decay. . Sometimes too, in winter, rain falls very heavily so that unless the outer walls are protected from the elements, they would be liable to perish." J. and J.B.E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho (1948), pp. 57-58.
At this point we must stop to consider the type of climate that existed anciently.
Prior to about 300 B.C., the entire Near East received much more rainfall than it now does. Trees, gardens, vineyards, crops, and farm animals flourished. Prior to about 700 B.C., the Near East received so much rainfall that it was a tropical paradise. Yet throughout all ancient history, continuing on down to the early 20th century, nearly every residence built in the Near East was made of those fragile, sun-dried bricks.
It is obvious that rainfall is a key factor in the duration of a mud-brick structure. Heavy or frequent rainfall crumbled the houses and they had to be remade. The farther back we go into time, the more frequently they had be rebuilt. People tended to congregate in towns, most of them small. Each time the houses washed away, the ground they had melted into was smoothed, and new walls were erected. Because most structures had low walls and were only one story, it did not take much time to produce a new house. So it was easier to let the family members quickly rebuild the house of sun-dried brick, than to go to the great expense of using only kiln-fired brick. Only the wealthiest kings generally seemed able to afford kiln-fired brick facing on their great stone palaces.
There is abundant evidence that a tropical, well-watered paradise existed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India in ancient times. In addition to remains of tropical plants and trees which have been found in those areas, streams that carried the extra rainwater have also been found.
"There is good evidence for a heavier rainfall, and extensive forests in the Indus Valley in ancient times . .
"In his explorations of Baluchistan these problems of climate and population were, of course, much before Sir Aurel Stein's eyes, and he was able to identify a large series of artificial stonebuilt dams and terraces, known locally in Jhalawan as gabarbands, clearly designed to aid the irrigation of fields. The date of these is unknown but, as Stein remarks, they must reflect not only climatic conditions with a greater rainfall, but also a large population to provide the necessary labour for their construction . . Even though the age and culture of these works are still unknown, their presence is important in indicating greater rainfall in antiquity, and it is by no means improbable that they do, in fact, date back to the prehistoric occupation of the Baluchi Hills." S. Piggott, Prehistoric India (1961), pp. 67-68.
"A dozen settlements of antiquity were observed along the now dry Ghaggan River in the desert area of Bahawalpur in India. Numerous scholars have observed evidences of a past exposure to torrential rains in areas. "Donovan A. Courville, "Evolution and Archaeological Interpretation," in Creation Research Society Quarterly, June 1974, p. 52.
"There remained in the Sahara and adjacent regions stream channels 'not now occupied by water courses' that obviously carried great quantities of water." I. Velikovsky, Earth in Upheaval (1955), p. 135.
Does not the Bible say essentially the same thing, when it describes conditions in the Near East in those ancient times?
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." Genesis 13:10.
Since mud-brick homes would be subject to rapid decay under normal climatic conditions found in Europe or eastern U.S., the rapid rise of those ancient village mounds could be accounted for within a relatively short time. From his extensive research into the subject, Courville decided that both in relation to ancient chronology and mound-building, no more than about 200 years would be needed between the Flood and the beginning of the first dynasty in Egypt.
1 - This chapter is not directly about evolutionary
teaching, yet it fills a vital link between the present and the past.
Why is it so important?
2 - Why is a correct
dating of archaeological finds so very important?
3 - The earliest Egyptian date was set at nearly
6000 B.C. Gradually it kept coming down. What date is it down to now?
How does that compare with the conservative date for the Flood? Memorize
the conservative date for the Flood and Creation.
4 - List 5 of the 11 reasons why modern
archaeological work tends to be confused and inaccurate in its
5 - Write a half-page paper on the walls of Jericho
and the dating of Sodom, as an example of prejudice applied to
6 - Write a half-page paper on Manetho and the
reliability of his king lists.
7 - Write a half-page
paper on Velikovsky and Courville's research into early dating.
8 - Write a half-page paper on the descent from the
Ark into Mesopotamia, and the Babel incident.
9- Write a half-page
paper on the migration into Egypt.
10 - Write a half-page paper on the radiocarbon
11 - Write a half-page
paper on eclipse dating. 12 - Write a half-page paper on the sothic
13 - Write a half-page paper on the "rising of
sothis," and problems with the theory about it.
14 - Write a half-page paper on the three Egyptian
seasons and the second Egyptian calendar.
15 - Write a half-page
paper on the conclusion, as it applies to Manetho, eclipse dating,
sothis, and rising.
16 - Write a half-page paper on near-eastern mounds.
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CHAPTER 36- THE CREATOR'S HANDIWORK: MAN