Toward a Radiocarbon Chronology of Egypt during the Pyramid Age (c. 2660-2180 BC)

  • Sowada, Karin (Primary Chief Investigator)
  • Jacobsen, Geraldine (Co-Investigator)

Project: Other


Despite recent scientific efforts, very few published radiocarbon dates exist for the Pyramid Age of the Old Kingdom (c. 2660–2180 BC). The Egyptian historical chronology and the dating systems underpinning it are largely based on fragmentary king lists and other historical sources (Verner 2008). For the third millennium BC, the chronology “floats” with weak external anchors— chronometric and archaeological. Likewise, there are few hitherto recorded astronomical events during that period (Sowada in press).

Some work on a radiocarbon chronology has been conducted by the Oxford Egyptian Chronology Project (Bronk Ramsay et al 2010; Dee et al 2013) and previously by others, but the overall dataset of reliable dates for the Old Kingdom remains thin, especially for the late third millennium BC. For the latter, there are less than six reliable 14C dates.

This proposal aims to contribute to this problem with new dates for the late Old Kingdom, modelled using Bayesian statistics. It forms part of a larger project conducted by the Lead Scientist to more clearly define the chronology of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Parallel work on the third millennium chronology is currently underway in Cairo. The results generated by this proposal will contribute to this international effort.
StatusNot started