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. 2013 Nov 8;469(2159):20130395.
doi: 10.1098/rspa.2013.0395.

An Absolute Chronology for Early Egypt Using Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Statistical Modelling

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Free PMC article

An Absolute Chronology for Early Egypt Using Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Statistical Modelling

Michael Dee et al. Proc Math Phys Eng Sci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The Egyptian state was formed prior to the existence of verifiable historical records. Conventional dates for its formation are based on the relative ordering of artefacts. This approach is no longer considered sufficient for cogent historical analysis. Here, we produce an absolute chronology for Early Egypt by combining radiocarbon and archaeological evidence within a Bayesian paradigm. Our data cover the full trajectory of Egyptian state formation and indicate that the process occurred more rapidly than previously thought. We provide a timeline for the First Dynasty of Egypt of generational-scale resolution that concurs with prevailing archaeological analysis and produce a chronometric date for the foundation of Egypt that distinguishes between historical estimates.

Keywords: Bayesian modelling; absolute chronology; ancient Egypt; radiocarbon dating.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
(a) Accession dates (first regnal year) obtained by this research for the first eight rulers of Egypt. (b) Intervals between the accession dates as indicated. In both cases (a,b), the marginal posterior density functions are shown with the corresponding 68% and 95% hpd ranges beneath. (Online version in colour.)
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
The foundation date of Egypt (accession date of Aha, first king of the First Dynasty) obtained by this research. The date is given by the marginal posterior density function (shaded) with the corresponding 68% (3111–3045 BCE) and 95% (3218–3035 BCE) hpd ranges beneath. The median value is 3085 BCE. Alphabets a–d are historical estimates for the same event: (a) 3400 BCE [10]; (b) 3100–3000 BCE [12]; (c) 3032–2982 BCE [11] and (d) 2900 BCE [13]. The dates for the Step Pyramid and Great Pyramid are the accession dates taken from Kitchen [12] for the two kings to whom the monuments are attributed. (Online version in colour.)
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
The four Predynastic sites of UE modelled in this research returned coeval estimates for the pivotal transitions Naqada IB/IC, IIB/IIC and IID/IIIA. The modelled dates for each site are delineated as shown, and the averages are given by the shaded area with their 68% and 95% hpd ranges beneath. (Online version in colour.)
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
The sequence of events from the Badarian, through the Predynastic (Naqada period) to the establishment of the First Dynasty. The divisions are placed at the medians of each hpd range. (Online version in colour.)

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