Assyria and the West: A Fresh Look at the ‘Unshakeable’ Pillars of the Late Bronze to Iron Age Transition-Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean World is the subject of BICANE IV presented as a two-day virtual colloquium (Zoom,  October 16–17, 2021).

Assyria, the West, and transition chronology (Late Bronze to Iron Age): overview

Many years ago, archaeologist George Hanfmann wrote that: a word of caution must be added regarding the so-called ‘absolute’ dates. Because the Near East is so vital for the chronologies of the European, Central Asiatic … areas, it is well to remind ourselves from time to time that the two great pillars of the chronology of the Bronze Age, the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian, are not two stout towers resting on immovable foundations. (American Journal of Archaeology 55:4, 1951).

His first ‘great pillar’, the chronology of ancient Egypt, has come under increasing scrutiny, particularly with respect to the ‘Third Intermediate Period Egypt’ (TIP), which separates the 26th Dynasty (c. 664-525 BC) from Egypt’s earlier history. To establish firmer dates for the New Kingdom Egypt, scholars now point to synchronisms with Mesopotamia. Yet how valid are these synchronisms?

In many respects, Mesopotamian chronology seems antagonistic rather than complementary to the Egyptian. Egypt provides the dates for the Late Bronze Age Hittite empire, while Assyria controls those of the ‘Neo-Hittite’ kingdoms which succeeded it in northern Syria during the Iron Age. Here Imperial Hittite styles come into conflict with indications from Assyrian-dated artistic sequences. Similarly at Byblos, links with Neo-Assyrian art have also raised a long-standing mystery concerning its royal inscriptions, while Israel remains the focal point of one of the most heated debates in Iron Age archaeology. An option is to simply lower the start of the Iron Age in step with a tighter Egyptian TIP chronology – and there is much evidence from Mesopotamia consistent with this.

Contributions during this online colloquium will deal with several important aspects of Assyria and the West; and, as they will be given by proponents of both high and low chronology variants, a fruitful open-minded debate is anticipated.


Pieter Gert van der Veen, Peter James & David Ellis

Organizing Bodies

BICANE – Bronze to Iron Age Chronology of the Ancient Near East Forum

JGU – Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

ABA – Arbeitsgruppe für Biblische Archäologie

CSAF – Cambrdige Science & Archaeology Forum

Arrangements & Registration

The colloquium will be held via Zoom, and participants will receive a link, password, and further technical details just prior to the conference.

To allow adequate space for discussion, places are limited. Students, and other participants, are welcome just to listen in. Registration is necessary for all, however.

Apply by contacting Dr. David Ellis at [email protected], including details of your academic institution or home address (as appropriate), and field of particular interest.

Conference Fee

The fee to attend is GBP 35, to be paid via PayPal. (International bank charges are too high for small transfers otherwise). Note that access to the conference will be not possible without prior payment of the fee.


We invite participants to obtain a copy of the proceedings from the last BICANE colloquium, which provides further background. They are available at:

James, P. & van der Veen, P.G. (eds); Porter, R.M. (assistant ed.) (2015)
Solomon and Shishak – Current perspectives from archaeology, epigraphy, history, and chronology

Proceedings of the Third BICANE Colloquium held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 26-27 March 2011 British Archaeological Reports International Series 2732 Archaeopress, Oxford



PD Dr. habil. Pieter Gert van der Veen

Head of the Biblical Archaeology study group (ABA) of the German Research Foundation Studiengemeinschaft Wort and Wissen e.V. (Baiersbronn, Germany)

Senior lecturer of Levantine Archaeology

FB 01: Evangelische Fakultät
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
55099 Mainz

Private address:
Reinhardstrasse 31
D-73614 Schorndorf

Tel. (+49) (0) 7181-989118 (office)

Email: [email protected]