COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett © 2003
Historic and pre-historic. These are familiar terms, but what do they mean?
Historic refers to records - like a recorded line of Kings. Pre-historic refers to things for which we have no written records and must be dated by estimation, material, design style or radiometric methods - all of which can be wildly inaccurate. In many history books the years are set down as if the state of the world in 5000 BC was known just as clearly as it was in 1000 BC. This is definitely NOT the case. Things go very fuzzy around 2000 BC, and the historian must rely on the consensus of opinion to fit things in before that time.
How long ago was the flood? Conventional archeological dating applies a consensus for dating things according to time periods - like "early bronze age" etc. How accurate are these assumptions, and are they (like the geological column) based on some shaky ground?
Carbon Dating shows up Historical Problems
"When the radiocarbon dating method was first tested, good agreement was found between radiocarbon dates for samples of known age (for example, from Ancient Egyptian contexts). As measurements became more precise, however, it gradually became apparent that there were systematic discrepancies between the dates that were being obtained and those that could be expected from historical evidence. These differences were most marked in the period before about the first mid-millennium BC, in which radiocarbon dates appeared too recent, by up to several hundred years, by comparison with the historical dates. Dates for the earliest comparative material available, reeds used as bonding material between mud-brick courses of tombs of the Egyptian Dynasty I, about 3100BC, appeared to be about 600 years, or about 12%, too young." Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archeology.
John Woodmorappe, (1) mentions contamination of 'old' carbon in the vicinity of the Mediterranean which could also causing erroneous dates - dates that are too early. (2) This makes the above problem even worse, since the exaggerated 'historical' dates for early Egyptian chronology was already difficult to verify with C-14 dating. Now it should be even worse than 12%. While the 'consensus' of archeological dating opinion was based on a distorted Egyptian chronology, the Biblical record had been deemed inaccurate. Now it appears some adjustments might be necessary - like revised editions of virtually every ancient history text.
The Bible gives a comprehensive record that traces the entire history of the world. Archbishop James Ussher researched world history and correlated it to the Bible, publishing his findings in 1650. (Some of his references have since been lost. In other words, in some ways he had better resources than we have today).
Ussher's date is based on calculations the Old Testament record. While the period from Creation to the flood can be taken directly from Genesis, the period from the flood to the birth of Christ is not so straightforward. Working through the line of kings, and making certain (quite reasonable) assumptions, Ussher (4) dated the flood at 2348 BC. This also gives a date for creation 2348 + 1656 = 4004 BC.
(Other estimated dates include Hebrew Bible 2288 BC, Josephus 3146 BC )
According to Cooper (3), the early Britons had their own (extra Biblical) records giving a creation date of 5228 years Ref 3 p123. The early Irish counted 4000 BC as the creation date. Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) (5) found difficulties with the Gregorian Calendar and proposed his own system of counting days (Julian) based on astronomy, starting from creation at 4713 BC. Some 600 years before him, the Mayans began their calendar at 3133 BC, which is not far off the Josephus date. The difference is 1600 years - which closely matches the Biblical 1656 from Adam to the flood.
(1) John Woodmorappe: "Large and Systematic regional-scale errors in Middle Eastern carbon-14 dating" TJ 17(1):13-15,
(2) D.J. Keenan: "Why early-historical radiocarbon dates downwind from the Mediterranean are too early", Radiocarbon 44(1): 225-237, 2002
(3) "After the Flood" Bill Cooper, New Wine Press, 1995
(4) "Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti"; J. Ussher 1650 (as quoted by Cooper)
(5) "De Emendatione Temporum"; Joseph Saliger, 1583 (as quoted by Cooper)