What is the true chronology of Ancient Egypt?

Nov 2019
5
Europe
Hello,

I have been reading a few forum posts here, and some people have been saying something interesting.

Basically, they say that Manetho was incorrect in regard to measuring certain time periods of Ancient Egypt, and the true chronology is actually about 300 years more recent than most historians believe it to be. By taking out 300 years from western chronology, what results is the disappearance of the Greek dark ages.

However, I haven’t found anyone say where the 300 years need to be removed from. So which pharaohs reigns are mistaken, and should be shortened, in order to remove the 300 years or so?

However, the problem I have with this theory is that this means the sea people invasions took place around 850BC, instead of the 1150BC usually mentioned by historians. But there is a lot of evidence of disruption and drought happening around 1150BC.
 
Feb 2011
1,142
Scotland
This sounds like the David Rohl chronology- books/tv series about 20 years ago.
New Chronology (Rohl) - Wikipedia

I think this link details the proposed amendments.

This isn't particularly my area but I think mainstream Egyptologists have resisted this hypothesis. (But then if it undermines your life's work, wouldn't you?).
 
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Jan 2015
951
England
I tend to believe, to within a few decades or so, the currently accepted Egyptian chronology from about 1800 B.C.E. or thereabouts. But I think that the First Dynasty only started in about 2200 B.C.E. So I would take the 1300 years that is supposed to have existed before 1800 B.C.E. and shorten it to about 400 years.

My primary explanation for this is that many of the kings of the early dynasties of Egypt were concurrent, not consecutive. Perhaps some of the dynasties themselves were concurrent, ruling different parts of Egypt at the same time, or the dynasties were indeed consecutive but the many of the kings within those dynasties were concurrent, ruling over different parts of Egypt at the same time.

Interestingly, an early Egyptian record (I believe it is the Palermo Stone) records many kings after Horus (whom I believe was a real person who later came to be deified), and then finally it comes to Menes. Significantly, it states that Menes received the kingship from Horus, not from the previous king in the list. This suggests to me that the kings listed between Horus and Menes did not succeed Horus, but were concurrent rulers over different parts of Egypt while Horus himself was still ruling, hence why Menes is described as succeeding Horus himself rather than the previous king in the list.

If this is the case, then this same phenomenon could be present in the rest of the king list, from the First Dynasty onward, without anyone realising it.
 
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Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,008
MD, USA
Egypt isn't my strong point, but I'm definitely one of those frothing Low Chronology nut-jobs! As I recall, most of the excess can be taken out of the Third Intermediate Period. Overlapping the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, for example. That alone eliminates ALL kinds of bizarre things.

Of course it's not just Greece that suffers from this screwed-up extended chronology. EVERYwhere west of India has problems in that era, with sites being "abandoned" and then reoccupied exactly as they were before, cultural features and artifacts disappearing for centuries and then reappearing like magic, "older" graves and other features with "newer" features sealed underneath them, societies adopting alphabets or defensive structures that were 300 years old, impossibly stretched pottery sequences, that sort of thing. And yet the "old guard" accepts this all as dogma, and viciously refuse to discuss the problem.

I'm glad I'm an amateur!

Matthew

OH! Try this: Centuries of Darkness by Peter James, I. J. Thorpe, Nikos Kokkinos, Robert Morkot & John Frankish
 
Nov 2019
5
Europe
Thanks for the responses! I agree that the chronology seems to be more accurate if some dynasties overlap (which takes away the 300 years). Also I don’t see why Manetho would be lying or be ignorant about the order of the pharaohs (as Rohl seems to imply). Maybe I’m too used to the traditional chronology, but Rohl’s chronology just doesn’t seem right (he says the Exodus occurred at the time when the Egyptians were still in upper Egypt).
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,366
Coastal Florida
The biggest problem with these theories is that they've been refuted by carbon dating studies, which are broadly and generally in agreement with the traditional view of Egyptian dynastic chronology as derived from archaeology and historical records. Some pieces of the puzzle can be shifted a bit here and there and we certainly still have room for healthy debate in certain areas but we have absolutely no sound basis upon which we can support a subtraction of 300 years from the entire chronology as a whole. Some dynasties overlapped as well but there's no evidence they were bunched up to the degree they would need to be to support this.
 
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Jan 2015
951
England
The biggest problem with these theories is that they've been refuted by carbon dating studies, which are broadly and generally in agreement with the traditional view of Egyptian dynastic chronology as derived from archaeology and historical records. Some pieces of the puzzle can be shifted a bit here and there and we certainly still have room for healthy debate in certain areas but we have absolutely no sound basis upon which we can support a subtraction of 300 years from the entire chronology as a whole. Some dynasties overlapped as well but there's no evidence they were bunched up to the degree they would need to be to support this.
There are many ways that carbon dating can be out by hundreds of years. Influence from volcanic gas, structures built from old wood, structures built from wood from the inner parts of an old tree, a differing amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere compared to what is estimated, etc. It would be nice if carbon dating could give us a definite dates, even to within a few hundred years, but it just can't.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,008
MD, USA
Carbon dating also gets calibrated by using "objects of known date", which of course defeats the purpose of the whole exercise... It would be interesting to see what carbon dating says for artifacts that have very clear features from both 1200 and 900. Or how it can explain things like that type of pottery that gets different dates depending on where it's found. Or the 10th century grave sealed under the 13th century wall. But what do I know?

Matthew
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,366
Coastal Florida
There are many ways that carbon dating can be out by hundreds of years. Influence from volcanic gas, structures built from old wood, structures built from wood from the inner parts of an old tree, a differing amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere compared to what is estimated, etc. It would be nice if carbon dating could give us a definite dates, even to within a few hundred years, but it just can't.

The results I refer to aren't derived from samples of the sort you're talking about here. Hence, your objections are not applicable to these findings. As for differing amounts of 14C in the atmosphere, we actually know a lot about that but I will comment a bit more about it below in response to a different poster.

Carbon dating also gets calibrated by using "objects of known date", which of course defeats the purpose of the whole exercise...

Here, you're essentially saying that a control "defeats the purpose of" the scientific method. :oops:

It would be interesting to see what carbon dating says for artifacts that have very clear features from both 1200 and 900. Or how it can explain things like that type of pottery that gets different dates depending on where it's found.

The Fortress of Buhen constructed during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom exhibited some features comparable to fortresses constructed over 2000 years later in Europe. Maybe there are more factors to consider than the mere similarity of features.

Or the 10th century grave sealed under the 13th century wall. But what do I know?

Matthew

Oftentimes in archaeology, it's easier to identify or take measurements from artifacts we find than it is to interpret the context in which we found them. In a given case, there could be a number of perfectly logical explanations. In particular, it's often impossible to date stone walls themselves. Rather, we often have to rely on decorations or other items found within their context for dating and those may not have all been placed there at the same time. Like in any other branch of study, this sometimes leads to the discovery of apparent anomalies which require more study to really understand them. And sometimes, we may never definitively know what the correct explanation is and we're simply left with a range of possibilities.

Article here about purported Carbon Dating errors revealed at Cornell University.
Carbon Dating Errors may Rewrite the Bible’s Place in History - Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy

The article suggests this supports Rohl's new chronology. (the website is devoted to finding evidence of Biblical events).

The paper in question doesn't support Rohl's chronology, primarily because it doesn't support anywhere near a 300-year correction downward. In fact, the findings of the paper actually support chronologies derived from traditional methods and could only be used to justify a variation of a couple of decades. I would also note the author of the article appears to misinterpret (or perhaps misrepresent?) the findings of the paper. While the subject of the study hasn't been extensively explored and this paper adds a lot of useful information and points for further study, it's core finding wasn't actually new either. Rather, it confirmed a regional phenomenon which had already been known for many years. Prior studies, including some involving determinations of Egyptian chronology, had even taken this into account in the report of their own results. Really, the paper brings attention to several things. One of those had to do with fluctuations in carbon levels over the span of time as well as regional differences specific to the Near East. Another thing the paper tackled had to do with the timescale about which one is concerned. Say you have 200 samples and you're using them to establish a definitive chronology of people and events spanning only 50 or 100 years. Radiocarbon dating is probably not going to be very useful for that. The paper focused on the period concerning biblical archaeology and this could be a very important consideration for this branch of archaeology because of the short period of primary concern, especially when one is focusing on a subsection of that period.

In the end, all the paper really says is that the resolution of carbon dating isn't yet high enough to settle the high-low chronology debates which are currently taking place in the literature. This is actually not a concern for this thread, which is focused on traditional dating vs radical crackpot theories. What is being debated here is a low-resolution application where a difference of 20 or 30 years for a given sample (or even all of them) is largely immaterial. Indeed, some of the more recent studies of Egyptian chronology have even factored an offset for this into their results already.
 
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