February 26, 1957
Dear Dr. Federn:
As I have told you on the telephone on the last of December I have signed a contract with Doubleday for two more books: “Oedipus and Akhnaton” to deliver the manuscript the coming fall, and “The Orbit”, the fall of 1958. From these titles you may judge how an idea ramified itself into most divergent disciplines. You know only a little from what I told you years ago about my idea of Akhnaton being the historical Oedipus. The similarity at the first sight is non-existent. But wait and judge when you see the manuscript. The generation that followed of Smenkhare, Tutenkhamen and Aye, will be shown by me to be the prototypes of Polineikes, Etecoles and Creon. Tiy is Jocaste, and Beketaten her daughter from Akhnaton.
Although I work sporadically on both contracted books (the work on Deluge and Saturn I have put aside), I must dedicate myself to “Ages” vol. 2. The British publisher is very persistent and asks repeatedly the date of the second volume will be ready; he has also a considerable amount of advance orders that he is afraid may be cancelled if there is no volume in sight. Although I have often thought that it was unfortunate to publish one volume only in 1952, the facts show that it may have been, after all this way better. The interest did not die down but increased, in some quarters, at least. Then, I have the opportunity to improve the volume, and especially to meet the argument of the newly published Babylonian chornicles (Wiseman), – and interestingly, already two or three of my readers drew my attention to these chronicles, mentioned in articles or books. Up till recently I felt the difficulty—and together with it the absence of interest and will—to complete the work on the page-proofs—since every correction must have been squeeze in without disrupting the page forms. But recently I discussed the mater with my editor at Doubleday, and I obtained a great freedom for changes. Namely, the printing plant where the set was made belonged to Doubleday; they do not have it anymore; the pages set are kept still; but the new printer will have to start from where I will submit now, with all the corrections, also such that would shorten or lengthen the text. But then, afte the printer whom they wil contact will partly use the text and partly reset it, any additional correction will be prohibitively costly.
I have also the feeling that the additional five years (1952-57) brought my work much closer to some discovery that will take the weapons out of the hands of possible opponents. The Hittite pictographs are probably read by now. I do not know whether Bossert published the texts and translations from Karatepe (beside the first publication in Archiv Orientalni, 1950, #3-4). I assume that Benveniste published already the Carian inscriptions he found at Mylasa in 1935. And did he translate them? Then Bittel found six or eight thousand Babylonin (or cuneiform?) tablets in Boghazkoi. If they are read, there must be some strong argument for my reconstruction. I don’t know whether he published his texts.
Next there are the Minoan Linear B texts found in Pylos and other places; facsimiles are published by E. L. Bennett; but the content is not known to me. Possibly there are translations in Antiquity, or Archaeology. Would you like to help me in tracing these publications?
Goell published in AJA in Autumn 1955 of her work in Commagene (Nemrrud Dagh); final publication should have followed. She found Hittite influence in art down to the first century. As you probably know, coins with “Hittite” signs were found dating form the first post-Christian era. And this, if you remember, goes even farther than I have predicted, of “Hittite”, actually Chaldean texts, dating from the first pre-Christian century, actually the time of Augustus, from which time date the last cuneiform tablets. I read the article of Bossert on such a coin, and Miss Goell wrote me that she has also one such coin (purchased)—they date from the time of Vespasian. And I think only that no Greek or Roman author o military man knew anything of the Hittites, or their forgotten language, race, or kingdom.
I have not seen anything of importance that could be used, say, for a second edition of the first volume of Ages; but the unpublished second volume has many important new discoveries to discuss. By the way, the boy in Texas drew my attention to a passage in a book by J. G. Duncan, Digging Up Biblical History, II, 136, concerning the names of the oficials mentioned in the Samarian ostraca> “Most of these names sound very unusual and un-Biblical In form they recall more strongly the names occurring in the Tell el-Amarna letters and the records of Thothmes III’s conquests in Syria.”
In Gamza there is very little about “Greek” signs on tiles of Ramses II. Did Hayes publish anything on the subject?
I will have to look into Lachish, third volume. In Viyra, HIttite Art (2300-750), 1955 (not in Princeton Library), Schaeffer, Encomi-Alasia (1952)—he sent it to me; also in an article by the lat A. Alt (Z.d.D.Paläst. Ver. Band 70 H.l), Neue Berichte über Feldzüge nach Paläst—Thutm. III, Amenh. II, Sethos I.; in K. Kenyon, Excav. at Jericho, 1954 (Pal. Expl. Q., May-Oct. 1954. And as you see I will have plenty to do wich with my many distractions and the wish to finish the volume this spring will certainly create a time problem—and a strain.
Then there are also questions connected with my Oedipus book; I write it in between, and since it should be a small book, a few pages written here and there may make the ‘pregnancy’ period quite concurrent with the work on the page proofs. Where is the description of Akhnaton sepulcher in el-Amarna? Had Ay a tomb prepared for him in el-Amarna? Where is the description of his tomb in Thebes? Was Amenhotep’s (III) body found? No sign of a wound? Was no tomb for Tiy prepared? (beside the one in which Smenkhkare was found?) What was the usage of the Egyptians in respect to those who committed suicide? As you see there are many questions. Don’t rush to answer all of them. I enclose a check as a first installment. As to the translation of “Ages” into German we have to discuss the matter once more.
Let me know how is your health. In snowy days better remain indoors. Elisheva greets you warmly.