What is the true chronology of Ancient Egypt?

Jan 2015
968
England
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.
I believe wood is an extremely common source of radiocarbon dates. What type of samples are you referring to then?

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.
Well given we don't have a time machine, the only way of analysing carbon 14 levels from the past is to measure the remaining carbon 14 in samples today and work backwards. But to work backwards, you need to know the date the sample was formed. And that is generally done by using the 'known' chronology of the civilisation from which the sample is taken. Therefore, you cannot use that to then 'confirm' the established chronology of that civilisation, because then you're just working in circles.

How do you suppose the levels of carbon in the atmosphere in ancient times can be measured without presupposing the date of the artefact which is being analysed?
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
7,064
Planet Nine, Oregon
Carbon datable remains can be found in the context of objects with known dates; even if wood was cut long before an object was made, it is unlikely to have been cut 300 years before. I believe the dates are cross-referenced; "if this is the date, then this other object's date must be.." And then testing it, and looking for chronological inconsistencies. I've seen pertinent dating that has dated early Archaic remains, iirc, several hundred years before the traditional dating. Toss those anomalies and you still get the high chronology.
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,418
Coastal Florida
I believe wood is an extremely common source of radiocarbon dates. What type of samples are you referring to then?

It can be perfectly fine to use wood, depending on one's application. However, for something like this, wood is avoided whenever possible. Rather, the focus is placed on short-lived plant remains like seeds, grain, grass, etc...things which consist of new growth and are unlikely to have been kicking around for a long time before deposit. In your previous post, your objections were primarily focused on problems related to what's called "old wood" (e.g. the possibility of getting samples from the heartwood of a long-lived tree or samples which could likely have been reused over a long period of time). In wet environments with an overabundance of trees, that's less of a problem. But in dry environments where wood is scarce and much more likely to be reused, it can be a much bigger problem.

Well given we don't have a time machine, the only way of analysing carbon 14 levels from the past is to measure the remaining carbon 14 in samples today and work backwards.

You're correct here.

But to work backwards, you need to know the date the sample was formed. And that is generally done by using the 'known' chronology of the civilisation from which the sample is taken. Therefore, you cannot use that to then 'confirm' the established chronology of that civilisation, because then you're just working in circles.

How do you suppose the levels of carbon in the atmosphere in ancient times can be measured without presupposing the date of the artefact which is being analysed?
But the rest of this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how this works. I'm going to try not to get too deep into the weeds here. Depending on the application, there may be appropriate datapoints from the archaeology which can be analyzed statistically and used to refine the results. For example, you may have a secure stratigraphy where you know for certain that one sample is earlier in date than another. However, the primary calibration of the results is not dependent on anything from the archaeology or traditional dating scheme. When people speak of objects of known date, they are talking about things known as climate proxies. Essentially, these are generally things which build layers over time. Some examples are tree rings, corals, speleothems, lake sediments, glacial ice cores and a number of other things. As each layer is formed, it locks in carbon from the environment in which it exists. By taking readings sequentially through the layers, a record of carbon years is found. However, because carbon years are not equal to calendar years and a number of other factors, calibration curves have been developed over several decades. These curves have further been split and updated over time with new data. For example, if a substantial new tree ring sequence is discovered, it might be sampled and used to enhance a given curve for which it's appropriate. Currently, there are two primary curves developed from tree rings; one for the northern hemisphere and another for the southern...because of a slight variance between hemispheric carbon records. These curves are the ones primarily used in archaeology as they're terrestrial open air carbon records and this is where almost all archaeology exists. In some contexts or other areas of study, a different climate proxy may be more appropriate.

The paper I linked to in my last post highlighted the need for additional refinement of the calibration in use for a particular region (i.e. the one we're talking about). This is because there are different environmental factors at play in this region which make this necessary. However, with each refinement, the degree of change to these curves is getting smaller and smaller. Even if an adjustment is made for this region, it won't need to be very large. And as I said, more recent studies of Egyptian chronology have already begun factoring this in anyway. That is why it won't really make any difference to the topic of this thread. I tried to summarize as simply as possible but there's really a lot more to this as scientists have been working on it for like 70+ years. It's actually a rather sophisticated science. Obviously, it's not perfect in every way in all places and for all samples but it's amply sufficient for many applications, particularly low-resolution applications like this. Dating something to 1300BC exactly isn't doable but dating it to a period of a couple or a few decades surrounding 1300BC is very possible if you have sufficient samples and datapoints.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2019
17
Europe
But doesn’t astronomy align with Rohl’s chronology (according to its wikipedia page)? Rohl’s chronology and date of known eclipses are in agreement.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,263
Australia
Here, you're essentially saying that a control "defeats the purpose of" the scientific method. :oops:
Carbon dating only works if you have something of a known date from which to calibrate. That item does not exist for the time period on question.

The current chronology is absolutely and hopelessly wrong. The only contention is how much revision is needed.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,263
Australia
Carbon datable remains can be found in the context of objects with known dates; even if wood was cut long before an object was made, it is unlikely to have been cut 300 years before. I believe the dates are cross-referenced; "if this is the date, then this other object's date must be.." And then testing it, and looking for chronological inconsistencies. I've seen pertinent dating that has dated early Archaic remains, iirc, several hundred years before the traditional dating. Toss those anomalies and you still get the high chronology.
The amount of time and energy required to process a tree back then meant that nothing was wasted. Timber was reused and recycled over and over again for centuries. Even in your own country right now there are 300 year-old log cabins being recycled for modern constructions and that practice was far more common in the past.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,739
Italy, Lago Maggiore
But doesn’t astronomy align with Rohl’s chronology (according to its wikipedia page)? Rohl’s chronology and date of known eclipses are in agreement.
About this there is a problem: eclipses are not so rare and to correlate them with ancient records is not that easy. Substantially you [as Rohl or others] can indicate the eclipses which meet your needs ... I noted this checking the eclipses around the reign of Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. I can find what I want without great efforts and those eclipses correspond with the standard chronology.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,263
Australia
A good paper outlining the problem and proposing a solution was Pierce Furlong's PhD.

Furlong used the Assyrian chronology, which can be more firmly dated, to help revise the Egyptian one.
 
Jan 2015
968
England
But the rest of this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how this works. I'm going to try not to get too deep into the weeds here. Depending on the application, there may be appropriate datapoints from the archaeology which can be analyzed statistically and used to refine the results. For example, you may have a secure stratigraphy where you know for certain that one sample is earlier in date than another. However, the primary calibration of the results is not dependent on anything from the archaeology or traditional dating scheme. When people speak of objects of known date, they are talking about things known as climate proxies. Essentially, these are generally things which build layers over time. Some examples are tree rings, corals, speleothems, lake sediments, glacial ice cores and a number of other things. As each layer is formed, it locks in carbon from the environment in which it exists. By taking readings sequentially through the layers, a record of carbon years is found. However, because carbon years are not equal to calendar years and a number of other factors, calibration curves have been developed over several decades. These curves have further been split and updated over time with new data. For example, if a substantial new tree ring sequence is discovered, it might be sampled and used to enhance a given curve for which it's appropriate. Currently, there are two primary curves developed from tree rings; one for the northern hemisphere and another for the southern...because of a slight variance between hemispheric carbon records. These curves are the ones primarily used in archaeology as they're terrestrial open air carbon records and this is where almost all archaeology exists. In some contexts or other areas of study, a different climate proxy may be more appropriate.
The problem is that things like dendrochronology and ice core dating are not reliable either. It is perfectly possible to have more than one ring per year or more than one ice layer per year. So if you track the changes in carbon content within the rings/layers, sure, you get to see the variation in carbon 14 in the atmosphere over time. But you don't know what time span that covers. Suppose, for example, you have a sequence of 5000 ice layers. But, due to multiple layers being created within single years at various points over the centuries, that 5000 layer sequence actually only covers 3500 years (for example). So you analyse the carbon 14 content in the layers near the beginning, and you think you've determined that the carbon 14 content in the atmosphere about 5000 years ago was, lets say, 2% lower than it is now. But in reality, that was only about 3500 years ago (in this example).

Because of the potential errors with ice layers and tree rings, the reality is that you simply have no way of ascertaining over what time span that variation covers, just that such a variation existed.

So if you use that method to 'calibrate' the radiocarbon date for a particular sample, in reality you are just subjecting yourself to the potential errors of dendrochronology and ice core dating.