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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Update on Lihyanite Chronology

In my previous post on the Lihyanites of Arabia and their possible relevance to the Book of Mormon, one commenter mentioned the April 1985 Sunstone magazine which had a brief response from two people critical of the Hiltons' early speculations about the Lihyanites (before George Potter's work, the Hiltons had originally pointed to a possible link with that ancient Arabian people). It was argued that the Lihyanites did not arise until at least century after Lehi's journey and that the inscription allegedly from the Lihyanites in the 6th century B.C. was actually from the Dedanite kingdom of that time, contrary to what was stated in the Smithsonian Magazine.

I'm not convinced that this argument from chronology still stands.

Take a look at the book reviews in the Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, Vol. 23. No. 2 (1997), where we encounter Lukas Muntingh's review of H. Lozachmeur, (ed.), Presence arabe dans le croissant fertile avant l'Hegire (Actes de la table ronde internationale Paris, 13 Novembre 1993). Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1995. ISBN 286538 2540. An excerpt from the review is relevant to our present discussion:
F Scagliarini's paper deals with Al-'Ula/Dedan, in NW Arabia, some 110 km SW of Teima. The author proposes an adjustment to the accepted Dedanite and Lihyanite chronology; "Dedanite" is used for the older phase of the history of the oasis of Al-'Ula, the Biblical Dedan. In reality, the difference between the two is conventional. The paleographic criterion which leads to different datings of the list of texts discussed here is arbitrary. It is, however, very interesting that the king, presented as king of the city of Dedan in the older period is later indicated as king of the Lihyan tribe.
Interesting. Any of your familiar with the latest findings on Lihyanite chronology? The stink raised over the chronology in the Smithsonian's publication and the Hiltons' speculation may have little substance now, which might be good to know for those of who were facing a challenge to your faith in Smithsonian Magazine.

By the way, the reference to Winnett and Reed in Sunstone is probably Frederick V. Winnett and William L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1970), p. 101. I found that citation in a FARMS publication by Robert F. Smith.

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