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or was it when the redactors incorporated them with other texts into the work which Jews celebrate as Torah (אט, ) and regard as the holiest portion of the canon? Or, was it when the rabbis gathered in the Great Synagogue around 150 B.C.E. and decided which books were divinely revealed and therefore canonical and which not?

In brief, by the end of the nineteenth century, a clear majority of educated Europeans had become skeptical of both the Bible and the doctrines of the Christian Church because of Darwin, the discovery of prehistoric artifacts older than 4000 B.C.E., and because of the documentary study of the Bible.

At the same time that biological and biblical studies were undermining the authority of the Bible, other antiquarians were attempting to reconstruct the origins of European civilization by archaeological research. The Danish antiquary Christian Thomsen, as early as 1919, introduced a “three stage” interpretation of the evolution of human culture which was accepted by museum curators, such as J. J. A. Worsae, who was Thomsen’s successor as Keeper of Antiquities at the National Museum in Copenhagen. They identified stone, bronze, and iron ages based on the materials used for the manufacture of tools. Later in the nineteenth century, the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans elaborated on this system and proposed that the stone age was divisible into three sub-stages, the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). The latter, he asserted, began around 12,000 — 10,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age. Other archaeologists worked out a chronology of ancient civilizations based on the records from Early Egypt, the oldest of which were found to have been inscribed around 3000 B.C.E. Egyptologists divided Egyptian history by groups of kings into 3l dynasties from Menes, the first king of the First Dynasty (circa 2800 B.C.E.), to Cleopatra, who died in 30 B.C.E.

Evans, who excavated Knossos on the Island of Crete in the Aegean, identified what he called Minoan Civilization (the name being based on the Greek myth of Minos) which he held dated from around 3000 to 2100 B.C.E. The Minoan Civilization, founded by migrants from Asia Minor (Turkey), was destroyed in a catastrophe which occurred around 1400 B.C.E. It overlapped the earliest Greek civilization, the Mycenean, founded around 2100 B.C.E. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey survived from the destruction of Troy, whose ruins the German archaeologist Schliemann had discovered. Evans based the dates for early Crete and mainland Greece on discoveries of Aegean exports to Egypt. Egyptian dating became normative for all dating, added to that of Sumeria and Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia, which was much less reliable.


At the same time that Evans, Masero, and various other pioneer archaeologists were at work in the Eastern Mediterranean, others such as James Ferguson became interested in the stone monuments which abounded throughout the British Isles and along the Atlantic seaboard of continental Europe. He called them “megaliths” meaning “big stones.” In his Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries: Their Age and Uses, Ferguson proposed that

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