Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pinpointing when the First Dynasty of Kings ruled Egypt

Date:
September 13, 2013
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
For the first time, a team of scientists and archaeologists has been able to set a robust timeline for the first eight dynastic rulers of Egypt. Until now there have been no verifiable chronological records for this period or the process leading up to the formation of the Egyptian state. The chronology of Early Egypt between 4500 and 2800 BC has been reset by building mathematical models that combine new radiocarbon dates with established archaeological evidence.

Monumental tombs of the Royal Cemetery at Abydos, Upper Egypt, where the First Dynasty kings of Egypt are buried.
Credit: Copyright Michael Dee

For the first time, a team of scientists and archaeologists has been able to set a robust timeline for the first eight dynastic rulers of Egypt. Until now there have been no verifiable chronological records for this period or the process leading up to the formation of the Egyptian state. The chronology of Early Egypt between 4500 and 2800 BC has been reset by building mathematical models that combine new radiocarbon dates with established archaeological evidence. Over 100 fresh radiocarbon dates were obtained for hair, bone and plant samples excavated at several key sites including the tombs of the kings and surrounding burials.

Related Articles


The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Egypt was the first territorial state to be brought under one political ruler, and the new dating evidence suggests that this period of unification happened far more quickly than previously thought.

Until now scholars had relied on archaeological evidence alone, using the evolving styles of ceramics excavated at human burial sites to try to piece together the timings of key chronological events in the Predynastic period and the First Dynasty. For example, among the most significant pieces of evidence surviving today are two mud seals, excavated at the royal tombs at Abydos, containing lists in successive order of the First Dynasty kings.

Using the fresh radiocarbon dates combined with existing archaeological evidence, the research team's mathematical model pinpointed the likeliest date for each king's accession. The date for each king is thought to be accurate to within 32 years (with 68% probability). The modelled timeline reveals lengths of reign that are approximately what you would expect in terms of lifespan, say the study authors.

The Egyptian state is often defined as starting when King Aha acceded to the throne. According to the new model, this is likely to have happened between 3111 BC and 3045 BC (with 68% probability). It also shows that the Predynastic period -- when inhabitants along the River Nile started to form permanent settlements and concentrate on crop farming -- was shorter than previously thought. It had been widely assumed that the Predynastic period started around 4000 BC. However, this model suggests it was probably closer to 3800-3700 BC, and the Neolithic period that preceded it lasted longer and finished later.

Lead author of the study Dr Michael Dee, from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: '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. This new study provides new radiocarbon dating evidence that resets the chronology of the first dynastic rulers of Ancient Egypt and suggests that Egypt formed far more rapidly than was previously thought.'

The first kings and queens of Egypt in order of succession were Aha, Djer, Djet, Queen Merneith, Den, Anedjib, Semerkhet and Qa'a. They would have ruled over a territory spanning a similar area to Egypt today with formal borders at Aswan in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the north and across to the modern-day Gaza Strip in the east.

Organic materials from key burial sites of the Badarin and Naqada periods and the First Dynasty were dated using the Oxford Radiocarbon Acceleterator Unit (ORAU) at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology, Oxford. All the remains were from museum collections in Europe and North America with freshly excavated seed samples from the Gaza Strip. The research was led by the University of Oxford in collaboration with University College London and Cranfield University. The project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Dee, D. Wengrow, A. Shortland, A. Stevenson, F. Brock, L. Girdland Flink, C. Bronk Ramsey. An absolute chronology for early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical modelling. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2013; 469 (2159): 20130395 DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2013.0395

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Pinpointing when the First Dynasty of Kings ruled Egypt." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913091606.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2013, September 13). Pinpointing when the First Dynasty of Kings ruled Egypt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913091606.htm
University of Oxford. "Pinpointing when the First Dynasty of Kings ruled Egypt." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913091606.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins