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March 12, 1954

Dear Dr. Velikovsky:

It is impossible for me to give an intelligent answer to the questions concerning Egypt in your letter of February 23rd because I know very little about Egyptian archaeology. I suspect that no dates for objects from the New Kingdom in Egypt have been determined. The material that I do know of was presumed to be the oldest obtainable which, at the same time, could be dated fairly accurately in other ways. As I understand the situation, the radiocarbon dates from Egypt agree, at least in general, with some of the more widely accepted ideas concerning chronology as determined by archaeological and other methods.

I do not have Libby’s book at hand at the moment, but I believe that my reference to “puzzling exceptions” and so on refers more specifically to American archaeological problems. A number of dates were determined which were not at all compatible with ideas concerning age at the time. Work, particularly in the middle west, has produced a number of inferences concerning age and these were believed to have some validity. The radiocarbon dates were reason for questioning this. Later work has revealed the probability that the radiocarbon dates are more nearly correct and that previous interpretations need revision. The situation is not yet completely clear, but it seems possible that the difficulties will be resolved before long.

The major difficulty, not only in America, but all over the world, has been to secure samples which have not been “contaminated”. In the early stages of development it was difficult to describe contamination. The difficulty still remains, but the definition of it is becoming clearer as work proceeds. I do remember some unfortunate cases where samples, even from the old world, were either taken from “fake” specimens in museums or which were otherwise not what they were supposed to be. These matters have as far as we know been clarified, but originally they caused some confusion.

This is not a very good answer to your questions, but I hope that in some measure it indicates the situation as far as it is known to me.


Sincerely yours,

  Frederick Johnson