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

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

Project: Research

Project Details


Despite recent scientific efforts, 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, with few scientific anchors.

The project involves generating new dates from several sources, including material from Giza now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and from the mummy of Djau, vizier (prime minister) of King Pepy II (c. 2270 BC). The mummy was discovered in his tomb at Deir el-Gebrawi by Prof Naguib Kanawati of Macquarie University in 2007. With the permission of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, in December 2019 a new Macquarie Expedition led by Dr Karin Sowada sampled the mummy at the site for radiocarbon dating in Cairo.

In conjunction with ANSTO, this project forms part of a larger international collaboration to define the absolute chronology of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, led by the Institut français d'archéologie orientale in Cairo.
Effective start/end date23/06/1931/12/19