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He first worked as a rock musician, forming a band in 1968, which eventually became Mandalaband , which released two albums, "Mandalaband" and "The Eye of Wendor" in the early 1970s. About 1974, Rohl started work as a sound engineer, which career he pursued until he returned to his interest in ancient Egypt.
Rohl has been the editor of the Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum since 1986. In 1988 he was accepted by University College, London and awarded the prestigious W.F. Masom History Research Scholarship by the University of London as well as being awarded his degree in Ancient History and Egyptology. Rohl started work towards his doctorate in 1990, but it is unclear if he has been granted this advanced degree. He is a past President of the Sussex Egyptology Society (SES) and edits the Eastern Desert Survey Report . He excavated at Kadesh in Syria for the London Institute of Archaeology during the 1990s, and is currently Co-Field Director of the Eastern Desert Survey in Egypt. Rohl has also been associated with the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS).
The publication of his book, A Test of Time led to his role in a three-part television documentary, "Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest", which appeared late summer 1995 on Channel Four in the UK, and spring 1996 on The Learning Channel/Discovery in the USA.
Rohl's hobbies include photography.
His published works A Test of Time and Legend set forth Rohl's theories for dating Egyptian kings of the 19th through 25th Dynasties, which would require a major revision of the conventional chronology of ancient Egypt, and less radical revisions of the chronologies of Israel and Mesopotamia. Rohl asserts that these would allow scholars to identify many of the main characters in the Old Testament with people whose names appear in archeological finds.
Rohl's redating is based on criticism of three of the four arguments which he considers are the foundations of the conventional Egyptian chronology:
- He claims that the identification of "Shishaq ['Shishak'], King of Egypt" (1 Kings 14:25f; 2 Chronicles 12:2-9), first proposed by Jean-François Champollion, is based on incorrect conclusions. Rohl argues instead that Shishaq should be identified with Ramesses II, which would move the date of Ramesses' reign forward some 300 years. (See the articles on Shoshenq I and Shishaq.)
- He claims that the record in the Ebers papyrus of the rising of Sirius in the ninth regnal year of Amenhotep I, which supposedly fixes the year to either 1542 BC or 1517 BC, is misread, and instead indicates a reform in the Egyptian Calendar.
- Papyrus Leiden I.350, which dates to the 52nd year of Ramesses II, records lunar observations that place that year of Ramesses' reign in one of 1278, 1253, 1228 or 1203 BC. Having questioned the value of the Ebers Papyrus, Rohl argues that since these lunar observations are accurate every twenty-five years, they could also indicate dates 300 years later.
Rohl bases his revised chronology (the New Chronology ) on his interpretation of numerous archeological finds and genealogical records of several individuals. For example:
- Rohl notes a gap in the stelae associated with the Apis vaults at Saqqara for the 21st and 22nd dynasties of Egypt , which combined with the placement of coffins at the Royal Cache (TT 320) of coffins, shows these two dynasties were contemporary. He also offers an interpretation of the relationship of the tombs of Osorkon I and Psusennes I at Tanis that supports his theory.
- Rohl offers inscriptions that list three non-royal genealogies, which—when one equates one generation to an average of 20 years—proves Ramesses II flourished at the later time Rohl believes.
The New Chronology is also the prime concern of the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS). Building upon the Revised Chronology of Immanuel Velikovsky and the Glasgow Chronology presented at the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies ' 1978 'Ages in Chaos' conference, the New Chronology puts the dates on the Traditional Chronologies Based upon Egypt out by up to 300 years at points prior to the universally accepted fixed date of 664 BC for the sacking of Thebes by Ashurbanipal.
While the vast majority of Egyptologists reject Rohl's theories, Rohl's most vocal critic has been Professor Kenneth Kitchen, formerly of Liverpool University. One of Kitchen's major objections to Rohls' arguments concerns his alleged omission of evidence that conflicts with Rohl's theories. Kitchen has pointed out that the genealogies Rohl references to date Ramesses II omit one of more names known from other inscriptions. Similar Egyptologists have pointed out that no other known king of Egypt fits the identification as well as Shoshenq I. Redating the flourit of Ramesses II three centuries later would not only reposition the date of the Battle of Qadesh complicating the chronology of Hittite history, it requires a less severe revision of the chronology of Assyrian history prior to 664BC.
Rohl's theory should not be confused with a theory by Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko, also known as New Chronology, which also involves a 300-year shift, but goes much further than reviewing the history of Egypt alone. See New Chronology (Fomenko) for details.
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