Troy or Amarna? The Oldest Recorded Solar Eclipse



A 2012 study by Göran Henriksson raised the possibility that a solar eclipse was described in the Iliad of Homer. If so then it would be one of the earliest dateable eclipses and of value to astronomers and geophysicists to determine the stability of the Earth’s rotation back to the second millennium BC; and thereby confirm circumstances of other ancient eclipses. In 2005-6 I published my own research on the subject of eclipses visible from Amarna, Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty and from Anatolia, to investigate whether there was a non-linear change (a wobble or nutation) of the Earth’s rotation ongoing at that era, residual from an earlier astronomical event. The possibility of another dateable eclipse observation allows an opportunity to revisit those concepts; together with its potential value in tying early-historical and legendary events to the Julian calendar.

A dawn eclipse at Amarna
The Akhet hieroglyph

The Akhet hieroglyph, meaning 'horizon', depicts the sun rising between two mountains.

The author’s crude drawing of a dawn eclipse as viewed from the temple at Tel-el-Amarna (click for a photo link)

Extracts from the full article:

Henriksson draws our attention to a possible reference to an eclipse within Homer’s description of the final battle of the Trojan war:

…and you would have said that the sun and moon were no longer fixed in the sky, since a fog covered over all that part of the battle where the leading men had made their stand…But the rest… fought in the ease of a bright sky, with the sunlight spreading clear and sharp and no cloud to be seen…but those in the centre were suffering cruelly in the fog and the fighting…

[Iliad, 17, Martin Hammond Translation] [1]

He... therefore posits that a solar eclipse of 1312 BC took place during the final battle of Troy, which can then be tied to events in the Hittite archives. The Hittite chronology is in turn dateable (according to Henriksen’s summation) via another eclipse that occurred in 1335 BC, the tenth year of King Mursili II. [3] Dating of the Hittite chronology is itself dependent upon links back to Egyptian chronology via the Amarna letters; these would make Mursili II a contemporary of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun and the late Amarna period. However, as one might expect, there are many opinions...

My own proposal in 2005-6 was that the construction of Amarna by Akhenaten was inspired by the observation of a dawn eclipse from the site of the Aten temple on 30 December 1332 BC, which would fix year 5 of Akhenaten’s reign according to inscriptions on one of the boundary stelae...


Open and download the full 10-page article Troy or Amarna? The Oldest Recorded Solar Eclipse here:

Alternatively you can find it on the Academia website.

Tags: Troy, Amarna, eclipse, ancient eclipse, dawn eclipse, Akhenaten, Akhet, Delta-T, earliest eclipse, Hittite archive, Mursili II, Troy eclipse, Tuthmosis IV, Ugarit eclipse, 1332 BC.



Publication pending in Prehistory Papers Volume II in 2022, ISBN: 978-0-9525029-5-1 Amarna and the oldest solar eclipse


Copyright: Paul Dunbavin & Third Millennium Publishing, January 2022, V 1.3