Shishak and Shoshenq A Disambiguation

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Ronald Wallenfels



The conventional history of the ancient Near East at large, including Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean basin, contains several “Dark Ages,” poorly documented transitional periods of uncertain length. James et al. 1991 have argued that the most significant of these Dark Ages—the transition from the Late Bronze to the Iron Age during the last two centuries of the second millennium BCE—is largely an artifact of an overly long reconstruction of the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, and that this Dark Age presents itself in every chronology linked to the Egyptian. A wide variety of often seemingly contradictory scientific, archaeological, art-historical, and philological evidence has been adduced to argue for the status quo, or to lengthen or to shorten by up to several centuries the relative chronology for this period . This review article comments on the papers presented at the Third BICANE Colloquium held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2011), summarizing a variety of recent positions taken in the ongoing evaluation of James et al. 1991, testing the specific proposition that the tenth century BCE biblical Egyptian King Shishak is to be distinguished from the historical Egyptian King Shoshenq I, who is now to be situated about a century later in the latter half of the ninth century BCE. the wider historical implications of this proposed distinction are examined in new detail.

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