Ancient Egyptian Chronologies: Introduction

A Comprehensive Analysis of the Ancient Egyptian Chronologies

Egypt; A land lost in time, where the 4,000-year-old pyramids are situated less than 14 miles from the hustle and bustle of Cairo. Thousands of years of culture clash with modern ideals in the desert-filled country. What brought about this great culture and how are we to even begin to understand it? Though Egyptian history seems like it is set in limestone, the facts paint a very different picture. There exist two main interpretations of the evidence available to students and enthusiasts alike: the Traditional Chronology and the up-and-coming Revised Chronology. These will be examined in detail and weighed with what we observe within the Egyptian culture, and beyond.

The Chronologies

According to the experts at the British Museum, people began settling in the Nile River Valley around 3500 B.C. This is known as the Pre-Dynastic Period. The Dynastic Period begins with King Menes, who united Upper and Lower Egypt in 3100 B.C. The era of pyramid building followed, reaching its height around 2700 B.C. Agricultural advancements were introduced, and then came the Hyksos invasion in 1700 B.C. A unity under Ahmose came later, but it was not to last. Egypt split again in 1100 B.C. Following the division came conquerors from various places; first the Assyrians, then the Persians, until finally Alexander the Great arrived in Egypt in 332 B.C. The Dynastic Period ends with the ascension of Ptolemy I to the throne of Egypt, but the chronology ultimately ends with the death of Cleopatra VII by the bite of an asp in 30 A.D. This traditional interpretation is generally accepted among Egyptologists, but has been challenged by a minority group of reformers in the past half-century or so.

This new chronology is exactly that; new. Officially termed the Revised Chronology, it seeks to take the events of Egyptian history, the highlights of which are listed above, and line them up with the biblical timescale, as well as other recorded history. Advocates of the new chronology include David Rohl, Colin Renfrew, Alan Gardiner, Peter James, David Down, and Dr. John Ashton (Anderson). Although it’s a relatively new movement in the view of the conventional chronology, it’s gained a considerable following among the Bible-believing community. This idea will also be analyzed and compared with the Traditional Chronology to form a conclusion as to which is the better of the two.

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