Dating ancient remains

Egyptian monarchs didn’t start building pyramids until the Third Dynasty, conventionally dated around 2686 BC.11 Since the focus of the study was the First Dynasty, the researchers obtained most of their regnal results from the Royal Tombs at Umm el-Qaab, the sacred burial site of Abydos.Abydos had also been Egypt’s capital until a First Dynasty pharaoh moved it north to Memphis.In Mesopotamia, for example, you have agriculture for several thousand years before you have anything like a state.”15 “The origins of Egypt began a millennium before the pyramids were built, which is why our understanding of how and why this powerful state developed is based solely on archaeological evidence,” Dee explained.“This new study provides new radiocarbon dating evidence that resets the chronology of the first dynastic rulers of Ancient Egypt and suggests Egypt formed far more rapidly than was previously thought.”16 This is a portion of a chart from the Digging up the Past website, reflecting the 3100 BC date currently considered standard by many Egyptologists (though not by those at Diggings).“It ends up in crates in storage, but a lot of that is gold dust for radiocarbon dating.” Dee’s team chose bits of hair and bone as well as plant-based materials like seeds from granaries, reeds from baskets,8 and linen.These samples had been assigned dates based on the usual pottery-based archaeological methods and comparison with other excavated layers (aka horizontal stratigraphy).The fragmentary dynastic records recorded on the Palermo Stone, combined with other data, are used in an effort to zoom in on the actual dates of Egypt’s founding as a nation.Image from Petrie Museum, UCL, via NBC.12 The investigators assumed that all (or all but one, as Queen Merneith was possibly co-regent with her son) ruled with non-overlapping reigns.13 This is a major assumption given that much of the difficulty with Egyptian chronology has stemmed from the probability that many rulers presumed to have reigned in sequence actually ruled at the same time, perhaps regionally.

Egyptologist Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) in 1899 developed the system of dating dependent on pottery styles.3 He proposed that Menes (aka Narmer, according to many authorities) ruled over a unified Egypt in 5500 BC.4 Egyptologist James Henry Breasted (1865-1935) dates Egypt’s unification under Menes to 3400 BC.5 In Centuries of Darkness, Peter James calls traditional chronology a “gigantic academic blunder.”6 Popular Egyptologist David Rohl writes, “The only real solution to the archaeological problems which have been created is to pull down the whole structure and start again, reconstructing from the foundations upward.”7 Egyptologists began to realize traditional chronology had serious issues when inconsistencies with Assyrian and Hittite discoveries surfaced.The investigators did radiocarbon testing on a few freshly excavated seeds from the Gaza Strip but primarily tested museum samples.“A lot of the stuff is not is [sic] particularly beautiful,” Dee said.No result for the Pre-Dynastic periods older than 6500 BC or more recent than 2000 BC was included.Ignoring Egypt’s unifier Menes (aka Narmer, possibly), Aha—the first “official” pharaoh—acceded to the throne, the investigators concluded, around 3100 BC.

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