Monday, January 30, 2012

Power #3: Our Solar/Wind/Generator Power Compared to City Power Costs

Power #3:  Besides solar and wind power, our other fuel sources are wood and propane (and a backup generator). 

How do our costs contrast to traditional utility rates in a similar climate?  For comparison, I looked at municipal utility/service costs for an average single family home in Anchorage.  It is not an apples-to-apples comparison, because those residences are surely bigger than our little cabin, and sport a flushing toilet (those lucky people) but by adding our outbuildings (the shower/wash house, outhouse, pantry shed and tool/power shed), many of which have electricity and one of which has water service, it may be an informative comparison.  

The results of the analysis: On all utilities/services that can be accomplished by human labor or portable devices, our costs are far lower than city rates.  However, on those utilities that require infrastructure, our costs far exceed those of city folk...for the first several years.  See below for details and conclusions. Do you find any ideas for your home?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Power #2: How Well Do Our Solar/Wind Power and Communications Work?

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

Power #2: With the bases and tower built over the prior two seasons (see blog entry, “Building the Power Tower,”)  the second summer’s project focused on installing the power and communications components that we bought from Susitna Energy of Anchorage.  These items were hoisted, tested, repaired, and in some cases, replaced over the next few seasons by the skillful remote power team at H and K Energy of Anchorage who flew out with every conceivable tool they might possibly need for each project they anticipated, as well as for troubleshooting any surprises (since the only way back to their shop or Home Depot was by plane).  We all know how important it is to trust and maybe even like the repair people who work in your home.  It is even more important when, in a remote situation, they sleep on your living room floor and eat with the family!  H and K Energy has stayed with us for several days each, once or twice a year, remaining until like magic, I could call my mother and turn on a lamp.  Over the years, I have come to look forward to their companionability as well as yet another high-tech enhancement.  

(Note:  the following article is much more technical than any other on the site.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

How Do We Get Stuff with No Roads?

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)
 
Brrrr!
Because our home site is remote, everything we use has to be:
(a) local, like wood for building or fuel, or water, from the lake or
(b) expensively transported from elsewhere.  Transport is determined by weather, weight, and dimensions.  This means that shopping lists are developed for needs anticipated a year in advance, and have to include a hefty supply of redundant parts and equipment and dry goods. 

During the winter, the rivers (the –na suffix in names like Yentna, Chena, Susitna means "river: in the Athabaskan language) become “highways” for remote areas, allowing snow machine trailer transport of large, heavy and flammable items, like mattresses, or 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel that are not allowed or are prohibitively expensive to transport by ski or float plane (usually Cessna 182s, 206s, or de Havilland Beavers and Otters).  As of 2011, the planes from Anchorage charge $0.50 per pound unless you charter the whole plane.  Since a whole plane charter costs from $300 – 600, there is an obvious incentive to fill it with over 150 pounds of goods, since a 50 lb bag of groceries will cost $25 to transport by itself.   Each air taxi service has a shed or two at Lake Hood (the largest float plane airport in the world) for accumulated piles of purchases by bush cabin owners like us until time to fly them out.   
The alternative mode of transportation is by snow machine cross country and up river 42 miles, about 3 hours.  That is 42 miles to the boat launch.  Not to Walmart.  Before we bought our own snow machine, our neighbor charged us $300 per day for hauling everything he could carry on his trailer, which holds up to 1000 lbs. He snow machined up river, switched to his truck, stored near a river landing, and then made up to 13 shopping stops (for construction supplies, fuel, furniture, and anything else we could think of) before returning to the pier, loading up his snow machine trailer, securing his truck, and then traveling home, down river and cross country.  That $300 works out to about $0.33/lb for shopping and transportation.  It was well earned and easily paid! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Power #1: We Build an Off the Grid Power Platform

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

(Power Article #1)  This is one of several articles on this blog describing the power platform my husband built off the "grid" with skillful Alaskan service providers.  This article describes the building process (without power tools).  The other articles describe the cost and functionality of the components we installed (and what worked and didn't), and how much power we use. 
----------------------------------------
Building it piece by piece
Want Power?

For many city/suburban people, the conundrum to overcome in installing wind or solar power is the upfront cost and pay back time vs current monthly utility bills.    On the other hand, in dilapidated towns in northern India, with, presumably, unreliable energy, every hotel we stayed in had solar powered water heaters dating back to the 1970s. For us, out in the bush, closer to Rajasthan than Rochester, we had fewer cost/benefit issues to debate.  Want power?  

Two choices: 

A: gasoline or diesel powered generator or B: some combination of wind and solar power.

 As a matter of fact, after we bought our remote property in South Central Alaska, the first building goal, before cabin, outhouse, or any other structure was power for communications. Since my husband is not retired, the determiner of how long we could stay out in the boonies was the quality of communication technology.  His goal was not heat but Internet, not water but a phone.  As the project evolved, it seemed like many a man’s dream:  he could pee behind a tree (well, a million of them) while checking his blackberry.  From a wife’s perspective, those are two of the worst scenarios combined, but I digress.




Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Land is Prepared for Buildings But I'm Not Prepared for this endeavor


(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

Although my husband had the vision to anticipate what this property could become and what it would mean to him, I definitely didn’t.  Our first few seasons felt like the absolutely bleakest way to spend a summer, like some chain gang of convicts clearing swamps for future county roads to nowhere.  I was hot, sweaty, bored, humiliated, sore, and lonely, particularly when he would disappear for a week at a time on business.  I had absolutely no confidence that Bryan had any idea of what he’d gotten us into.  One day, when the weed whacker’s head spun off, sending in who knew what direction all the little screws and washers under ferns and devil’s club leaves, I sat down in the middle of the forest and cried.  “What are we doing here?  You don’t know anything!” 
We didn’t have any of the right tools and we invariably broke the old ones our neighbors loaned us, in what started to seem like a canny plan to get new replacements from hapless cheechakos, as neophytes are known.  We certainly were na├»ve.  Each replacement required expensive arrangements to fly them out by air-taxi, along with anything else we suddenly realized we’d need, although we as yet had no place to store them.  Weren’t husbands who bought land in Alaska supposed to intuit all this stuff?   





Long Term Food Storage

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

Those of us who have lived in Hurricane vulnerable parts of the country get annual reminders at the onset of storm season every June.  Media and supermarkets offer pragmatic lists of supplies to keep on hand. My family took such suggestions seriously, and the resulting preparation came in handy during ice storms and flu season as well as hurricanes and flooding.

I encourage people in the rest of the country to follow suit for whatever reasons make sense to them. I’ve been astonished to read how few households maintain even three days (9 meals) worth of food. For $20, $50, or $100, think of the shelf stable foods that could have enhanced the quality of life for the millions of people trapped by extensive 2010-11 power outages in areas as disparate as San Diego, Cedar Rapids, Tennessee, and Vermont.
The flowers are bok choy, Siberian
wallflowers, and asters 

In Bush Alaska, we stock up on long term food and supplies, primarily because to reach a supermarket we have to fly to one and we don’t do that very often. But, like “Hurricane Alley” residents, many Alaskans, city or rural, are wise enough to be prepared when a tree falls on a power line or a snow plow can’t get through. In one story that sounds like the Arctic version of Gilligan’s Island, friends flew out with another couple in their ski plane for a winter weekend at their hunting cabin. An unseasonably warm storm struck and it rained for days! This softened up the lake ice so much that it was not safe for the ski plane to depart until the temperature dropped for a sustained period, so the foursome was stranded in a very small cabin for s-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n days. Fortunately, they had bulk storage of grains, pasta, and beans, but surely after a while the menu got pretty dull and the Canasta games pretty boring.


Below is information that I think may be useful for urban or rural folks who can envision a variety of reasons to bulk up on food supplies. You don’t need to be a “prepper”; you might want to have food on hand in case of inclement weather, illness, power outages, transportation glitches, food price inflation or a sudden influx of guests. Some of the products and information are based on personal practice and others are based on websites (see two listed below).



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kayaking Happy Hour

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

I love to hear the rhythmic slap of lake water pushed by the breezes toward our little dock.  Floating around the lake in one of our kayaks, sometimes with a book, sometimes with my husband, is a frequent, leisurely pleasure. 
During the summer months, even if it was foggy in the morning and raining during the day, it invariably clears up around Happy Hour.  Often, but particularly if we have felt cooped up earlier in the day, we will grab  glasses of home made beer and wine and some peanuts, turn the tandem kayak over and have happy hour on the water.  Usually, we will paddle upwind to the far "corner" of the lake and then drift back toward home, betting on how close we'll get to our dock with no adjustment whatsoever.  From that far corner, if it is particularly clear, looking past our cabin, we can see Denali and Denali's Wife, otherwise known as Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker.  These are the brightest white of any natural effect I have ever seen, other than expansive cotton fields in the South.  Since the peaks often rise above a lower layer of clouds, they appear to float, like giant wedding cakes.  Really breathtaking. 




How a High Rise Couple Ended up Living in an Alaskan Log Cabin - The Purchase

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

In 2002, my husband and I took the Inside Passage cruise where he fell in love with Alaska.  Soon he was reading blogs about the state, and engaging in conversation any folks who had lived there.  He even invested in a business near Juneau.  I bought him a subscription to Alaska Magazine so he could coo over its gorgeous photos.  Soon, he started reviewing real estate listings for remote properties, none of which looked particularly realistic to me, given that we lived in a high-rise in Houston, TX and lacked the funds for the attractive or even the ramshackle log cabins featured in the listings. Still, if he was enjoying internet real estate “porn” instead of other websites, it seemed like a harmless enough diversion. 
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Four years later, when he was particularly missing the state, he decided to return to Alaska with his dad for some fishing and good father/son time.  I immediately called my dear father-in-law and prevailed upon him to ensure that Bryan would NOT buy any property without my seeing it first.  This was an ironic request since this is exactly what my father-in-law had done to my incensed mother-in-law decades before, when he returned to their suburban Chicago home after a weekend of hunting with the announcement that he had just bought a 140 acre tree farm in the middle of Wisconsin!  After their fishing trip, Bryan was ecstatic.  He regaled me with delightful stories of their flying into a different fishing camp every day or so, of the lovely scenery they had seen, and the down-to-earth people they had met.  He returned with the thrill of the hunt to his remote real estate websites, trying to entice serious enthusiasm from me for what I still regarded as his version of a fantasy football game.  





Monday, January 9, 2012

What Do You DOOOO All Day?

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

Over the past four years of transitioning from a high rise Southern lifestyle to a bush Alaskan one, we have received quite a number of quizzical looks and questions.  Virtually all of my relatives and close friends have said, at one point or another, "Laura - I never thought you would do this" and I certainly don't disagree.

Some of the questions can be divided by gender.  For example, from male friends, Bryan heard two opposite ones:  1) "How on earth did you get your wife to go up there with you?" and 2) "Why on earth would you want your wife up there with you?"  I'm not sure whether the sentiments say more about the questioner or about their impression of me, but I can say that I have never had any women ask me those questions about my husband!
The questions from women fall into two camps, too.  One group is interested in how we do things.  I think of these as the Laura Ingalls Wilder questions.  The other group is made up of individuals, who, for the most part, have no interest in words like "kayak" or "bonfire."  I think of these as fish-out-of-water questioners, like Eva Gabor in "Green Acres" because that is how I first felt! They ask, with a disbelieving shake of the head, "What on earth do you do all day?" Each one finds some particular aspect of our life appalling. 




Fire (including starting one at 10 below)

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

We think about fire all the time, all year long.  Heat, cooking, light, bug deterrent, danger.  Thank goodness for Prometheus!  

Living in a log cabin in the woods, off road and plumbing system, means that we need to be particularly careful about fires. There is no such thing as home insurance in such a situation!  Alaska wildfires ANNUALLY burn about one MILLION acres.  Last year, there were 495 wildfires in the state.  Most of these are in the interior, near Fairbanks, started by lightning or humans and fueled by high winds. 

Below are examples of our fire prevention, fire as bug deterrent, and starting a fire at -10 below F.

Hope for the Promised Land

What does the word, hope, mean to you?  We bandy the word about, hear it in passages like “faith, hope, and charity” but how do those first two words differ, for instance?   I realized recently that I had never really defined it for myself.  Have you?  I think that is a good project for January, particularly in an election year, when we’ll probably hear a lot about it!  Let me share some of my thoughts on the etymology of the word and its use in the Bible – a book that’s all about hope -  in order to encourage you to determine your own definition and to think about what other people may mean when they use the word.


 In my mind, hope is weaker than faith or belief.  Like the story of Pandora’s box, hope arises as a positive antidote to the impediments of life.  Children, for example just want, they don’t hope, because they don’t yet sense the possibility of “no.”   If I express a sentiment like, “I hope that Mom will get better” that is vaguer than “I believe she will” or “I have faith or confidence that she will.”  You can see that my impression of the word is rather lame and floppy, so political rhetoric about “hope and change” or “hope and progress” make me roll my eyes.  They seem like easy platitudes to trot out with Uncle Sam and apple pie.    


 However, I realize that people use the word in different ways than I do and I wondered if that was true historically, too.  If so, that might change my interpretation of significant documents.


The etymology of the English word, hope, is unknown, but it seems to be from a North European, Germanic source that may have something to do with the English word, hop.  I love that connection.  It suggests that hope does not mean something I can reach from where I stand; rather I have to take a little leap toward the object of hope in order to reach it or perhaps even to see it.   


What about in the Bible?  That book is full of hope for the Promised Land in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and for Salvation in the New Testament.  Were the word choices in the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament as loosey goosey as my understanding or something stronger?  ln Biblical Greek straight through to modern Greek, the word for hope is elpida.  It is often used as a girl’s name. The word is more assertive than in my definition.  It encompasses a sense of expectation.  When you hope for something, you do not have it in hand but you expect to get it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Financial Transitioning from One Lifestyle to Another of Your Choosing

(I welcome your comments and questions through the "comments" option below any entry. --Laura)

To most people who have asked how on earth we have managed to move from a city life in the South to a bush cabin in Alaska, my quip has been “my husband’s mid-life crisis.”   Some nod sagely, as though they KNEW it had to be something like that, and then turn to other subjects. Others, though, don’t let us off the hook so easily.  They lean in and inquire, “No, really, how?”  I sense a plaintiveness in the question:  Maybe it means: “I once wanted to do something like that.  Maybe it means:  “How does one let go?”    My impression is that the subtext of these questions is how do you shed a lifestyle loaded with heavy financial and time commitments, like mortgages, car loans, tuition payments, business and social obligations, and all the things we think we are “supposed to buy and do.”  
We did not transition quickly.  It took many years, starting before Alaska was even considered.  While other blog entries describe our life off the beaten path, this entry attempts to reconstruct concrete changes we made that anyone might implement, in advance, in the city, on the job, in order to enable lifestyle changes of their choosing.

I think of the process like brushing a dog.  You’ll be surprised by the amount of light weight dead hair you remove from a dog.  Afterward, s/he looks exactly the same (or better) and you don't miss the dead hair. 

My three pieces of advice follow, with examples for each:

1)    Shed expenses you don’t value

2)    Shed commitments that cost more in time and money than you value 

3)    By doing 1 and 2, you will become more intentional.  You will create a “values map” that makes either/or choices clearer, enabling you to free up dollars and hours you can allocate in different ways more to your liking.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Business Benefits Accrued from Life in the Bush


Sometimes, we encounter an absolute culture block about our life in Alaska.  Usually it is because the person perceives ours as a life of such privation, analogous to a New Yorker who can’t imagine living in New Jersey, or a couple with children who can’t imagine a home without them.  Another culture block is from those who can’t envision working remotely.  However, as more and more people do the latter (I read that 1/3 of all IT professionals work remotely),  we encounter less resistance from workers than from retirees whose life experience required a commute to an office in order to be paid.

This blog entry describes time management/business benefits we gained from living in the Alaska bush that we never expected, largely from something very simple: intentionality.  Another entry describes non business gains (physical, psychological, and marital).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Money and Conflict: Spiritual Challenges and Gifts

One of my big pet peeves about churches is that the only time they seem to talk about money is when they want some!  It’s not that I begrudge their need.  Any organization that occupies a building has utility bills, insurance, maintenance.  Anyone who values that organization and its facility should contribute to those payments.


No, what bothers me is something else.   If Churches are supposed to help us wrestle with personal and social demons and sort out ethical dilemmas and inspire us to do good in the world, and if, surely, a central figures in many of these human dramas is the role of money – sometimes as the good guy and sometimes as the bad guy, then money seems a very worthy topic on a Sunday morning - not to ask for it  -but to help the congregants deal with it!  And yet, in the churches I have attended, I don’t believe I have ever heard such a sermon.  Have you? 
Instead, many religions proclaim negative images of money:  Buddha gave up princely wealth,  Gandhi gave up his job as an attorney.  Jesus has mixed messages about money.  So I endeavored to make something up!


I started with some research, as I always do.  I discovered that a number of churches and religious leaders do talk about money, and interestingly some of these are large and growing congregations, like Lakewood and the Unity congregation in Houston.  These are described by some people as “churches of abundance” and “ministries of prosperity.”  I’m sure I’m simplifying their messages, but they seem to be that God wants you to have a life of abundance, which includes financial prosperity.   Norman Vincent Peal wrote: Put God to work for you and maximize your potential in our divinely ordered capitalist system.”


Now I don’t feel particularly comfortable with these points of view, so my thoughts turned to what people actually do with their money.  Money doesn’t appear on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs alongside water, food, shelter, safety, but isn’t it really shorthand for all of them?  Money is a way to measure and secure so much water or so much food or shelter.  This transactional role of money is pretty clear cut. 
But it also occurred to me that if the number one reason cited for divorce is not love or sex but money, it must have other roles or meanings, too.  Earning, accumulating, sharing, spending, and saving money are freighted by symbolic meaning for people, and that meaning may differ for a husband and wife or a father and son or employees in different departments of the same business, or for political figures.


So here is my approach:  It seems to me that money means four different things to people, and each one has a spiritual challenge and a spiritual gift.  These four meanings are safety, power, opportunity, and  affection.  It can hold these meanings for different people, or to the same person in different circumstances. I hope that as I speak, you’ll consider what money means to you, and what challenges you face because of that and what gifts you gain.  Maybe you’ll come up with meanings altogether different than the ones I list.   
Because financial arguments often line up with safety on one side and the other three opposite it, I am going to talk longest about saving money as a safety strategy, and then more briefly about the other three.



Biblical and Middle Eastern History Timeline


Timeline
Bible
Middle East
5004 – 3952 BCE
World created, according to interpretations of selected genealogies in the Bible, as per Ussher  (4004 BCE), Newton, Kepler, Bede and others

3500 -2500 BCE

“Cradles of Civilization”: Sumerian, Akkadian, and Egyptian Empires.  Sargon.  Mules and oxen draw solid wheeled carts, literature, records, trade, surgery.
2100 – 1700 BCE
Egypt
Bronze Age
Date range for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
Egypt:  Osiris: god of the underworld; Horus (hawk): sky god.  Book of the Dead.  Value for the body as “holding” three lives/souls.  One version of creation starts with an ocean in darkness.  Hittites are renowned charioteers (with horses). Hammurabi’s Code
1750 – 1580 BCE
Hyksos in Egypt

Hyksos leadership of Egypt.  Invaders? Skilled horsemen.  Limited records for 200 years.  “Asiatic” or “Semitic” names (most Semitic languages dead now)
1650 – 1500 BCE

Volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini)
Early Canaanite writing
1700- 1400 BCE

Minoan frescoes on island of Crete. Religious images include the bull, serpent, sun disk, tree. 
1450 BCE

Megiddo (n Israel) an Egyptian garrison.  Egypt and Mitanni (NE) partnership against the Hittites (N)
1500 – 1200
BCE
Date range for Moses, 40 years in the desert, Joshua’s invasion and settlement of Canaan
Jericho fort guards place to ford River Jordan.  Ancient settlements, Rebuilt 17 times.  Abandoned 1400 – 1500 and 850 – 1325 BCE.  Ai abandoned around 2700 BCE.
1350 - 1330 BCE

Pharoah Akhenaten, monotheist, sun god (movement shifted back to polytheistic practices afterward)
Pharoah Tutankhamen
1280 BCE
Transition of powers

Egyptian (S) and Hittite (N) powers wane.  Peace pact between them because of growing Mittani (NW) power
1200 – 1000 BCE
Iron Age

Iron Age begins and spreads technological advantages (unevenly) in chariots, ships, and weapons. Egyptians still rely on bronze, lose N garrisons to Mesopotamians with iron
1209 BCE
Earliest mention of Israel (as a people, not a nation) on Egyptian victory stele, with Canaan

1200 – 1150 BCE
Sea Peoples
invasions Eastern Mediterranean
Bible is silent on the Sea Peoples invasions. Book of Judges is presumed to reflect this period, though written later. 
Whole cities and regions are destroyed, depopulated, and abandoned (Greece – Mid East), for a century or more.  Subsequent settlements poorer and smaller.
Like Vikings – no evidence of empire building, just pillaging. Did they carry plague(s) that depopulated the region?  
1000 -900 BCE

First kings: Saul, David, Solomon
Israel and Judah united kingdom under D/S only.  Jerusalem made capital.  Solomon described with great wealth, hundreds of wives, Solomon’s Temple, worship of other gods
Camels may have been previously domesticated in Arabia and Central Asia, but were uncommon in Mid East until 1000 BCE. No external references to King Solomon.  Possible later reference to “House of David” on small Tel Dan ( N. Israel/Syria border) stele fragment.
925 BCE
Pharoah Shishak invades Israel.
Pharoah Sheshonq conquers many Northern Israelite cities.  Mentions N. Israel cities (Megiddo) etc but not  Jerusalem or southern cities. 
900 – 722 BCE
Kingdom divided into Judah (S)and Israel (N).  Battles with the Syrians, Egyptians, Assyrians. Criticism of widespread polytheism. 
Archeology reveals larger, sophisticated, walled cities in N (like Samaria and Megiddo) than in the S (like Jerusalem and Hebron).  N on trade routes and center of extensive wine and olive oil production. Evidence in N. of remote trade for high quality goods, such as ivory, and by artisans, such as architectural refinements and engineering, invoices, receipts in N.  S more remote and rural until after 722.
853 BCE
Assyrians
King Ahab (N) dies in battle (according to both Bible and Assyrian stele
Egypt, Canaan, Israel and Syria band together against Assyrians and lose, pay tribute as vassal states
722 BCE
Assyrians crush Israelite rebellion (N) Residents are exiled, others flee south (to Judah).  Possibly earliest collections of Bible stories postdate this refugee movement which brings remote Jews together.  J documents:  (south) describe approachable, physical God, Yahweh. E documents: (north) describe remote God, Elohim.   Leviticus and other Priestly documents possibly written at this time or after Jews return from Babylonian exile (500s).
Massive Israelite refugee movement flees south from Assyrians to Jerusalem, bringing sophisticated technology with them.  Cities balloon in size, increase in number, defensive walls built with better skills than just previously.
700 BCE
Jerusalem palace 150 x 250 sq ft,
Casemated wall like Samaria (n) had
King Hezekiah mentioned by Assyrians
 Southwest Palace in Ninevah is 1650 x 794 sq ft: 80 rooms, 2 miles of carved reliefs decorating walls
Assyria captures fort of Lachich in 703 BCE 
663 BCE

Assyrians (Ashurbanipal) conquer Egypt).  Biggest library in the ancient world in Ninevah: 24,000
600s BCE
First version of Deuteronomy  written during King Josiah’s reign, followed by revisions and Joshua,  I/II Samuel, I/II Kings, and Jeremiah presumed written, perhaps by same author/group .  King Josiah dies in battle with Egypt. 
Temple in Sheba (Yemen) built

626 BCE

Ashurbanipal dies, others conquer Assyrians: Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Caucasians
600 – 800 BCE
Presumed assembly of disparate oral and written tales, laws, songs etc. into written Bible scrolls (not found).  Subsequently edited many times.
Neo-Babylonians poor record keepers
597 BCE
Babylonian
Alliance of Judah, Egypt, Edom, Moab, Amon, Tyre and Sidon against Babylonians.  Crushed. Samaria holds out longest.
King Johoichan deported to sophisticated Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.  N: a big builder.  One temple: 1500 x 1800 ft.   900 chapels and temples in empire.  Banks, insurance, loans, jewelers’ guarantees, lawyers, contracts, debt prisons. Consistent astronomical records maintained for 350 years.
587 – 538 BCE
King Zedekiah refuses to pay tribute.  Crushed. Blinded.  “Babylonian exile” of Jews.  Not enslaved.  50 years.
Parts of Ezra, Chronicles, Jeremiah, and early part of Daniel written, plus all of Tobit, Ezekiel, Lamentations, possibly Judith.
Coins become common for trade
538 BCE
Persians
Leviticus and other P documents possibly written when Jews returned to Jerusalem and discovered differences in practices, or possibly written after 722 when Israelites migrate south and introduce new ideas
Nebuchadnezzar dies, Persians conquer Babylon, under Cyrus, messianic stories about him,  Tolerant ruler, didn’t destroy Babylon. Released Jews from exile, with Temple valuables. 
444 BCE
Artaxeres installs Nehemiah as governor of Jerusalem, vassal state to Persia.  No evidence of war in Israel under Persian rule. 
Book of Nehemiah written.  Content of Pentateuch (first five books) probably set by this time.
Judah is poor, deforested, poor construction techniques

Greek Parthenon built, burned by Persians
419 BCE

Darius protects and preserves religious rights of Jews as far south as Aswan, Egypt
333 BCE
Greeks
Bible silent on Greek period until Maccabean wars.  Samaria only independent town that could withstand Greeks (a while).
Book of Esther probably written 300 – 400 BCE. 
Alexander the Great.  Tolerant toward regional religions and practices but Greeks regarded circumcision as barbaric mutilation.  No Greek interest in Judah.  Greeks gave Jews in Alexandria, Egypt same rights as other citizens.  City became center of intellectual Judaism.
250 – 100 BCE
Hebrew no longer widely spoken.  Hebrew Bible translated into Greek (version called the Septuagint) at order of King Ptolemy. New books added, like late part of Daniel, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Macabees. 


168 – 164 BCE
Seleucids
Seleucids despoil Temple in Jerusalem, put up other gods, ban circumcision.
Maccabeean revolt.  Seleucids win but allow Judaism to be practiced again.  Hannukah story.  Maccabees fight for political independence.  Crushed.

142 – 129 BCE
Syrians

Syrians grant them political autonomy under Jewish leader, John Hyrcanus.
129 – 63 BCE
Hasmoneans

Jewish independent state, under Hasmonean dynasty
Romans
63 BCE +
Jesus’s dates not stated, but presumed between 7 BCE and 36 CE.
Julius Caesar dies 44 BCE.  Augustus d. 14 CE
Pontius Pilate resigned 36 CE. 
Nero d. 66 CE
30 – 70 CE
Presumed date range when Hebrew scrolls were  hidden in Dead Sea caves
( 100 copies of OT books, 300 other documents ) These are the earliest Bible documents found.

50 – 65 CE
Presumed dates of Paul’s letters in New Testament(about half scholars believe are written by him, others by other authors)

66 – 70 CE

Jewish Rebellion, Jerusalem destroyed by Romans, Jews and Christians scattered.
70 – 100 CE
Presumed writing of the Gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Acts, and Revelation

135 CE

Another Jewish Rebellion, Jerusalem destroyed, Jews no longer allowed there.
200 – 400 CE
Presumed dates of previously unseen 50 + Coptic Christian gospels found in caves near Nag Hammadi, Egypt  (13 volumes, 1000 sheets).  Christianity becomes official religion of Roman Empire, Several Ecumenical Councils determine articles of faith (not explicit in Bible).

800 – 900 CE
Masoretic Translation of OT used for Protestant and Jewish Bibles.