Ancient Egyptian Chronologies: Traditional Chronology Part 1

Evidences for the Traditional Chronology

Beginning with the evidences for the Traditional Chronology, one must first understand the basis of this system. It is fundamentally founded in the Sothic cycle and Manetho’s writings (Ham and Mitchell, 246). Evidences for this chronology as outlined by Wikipedia are as follows: Archaeological sequences, synchronisms with other cultures, synchronisms with the death/burial of the Apis bull, astronomical synchronisms, radiocarbon dating methods, the eruption of Thera, and dendrochronology.

Manetho was a priest in Ptolemaic Egypt. He was instructed to compile a record of Egypt and its rulers. The Dynasties established by Manetho are considered totally accurate by most Egyptologists of today. They are viewed as continually consecutive rulers throughout the history of Egypt for all thirty-one dynasties, including the conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

Seriation, also known as archaeological sequences, makes use of certain events in history, albeit Egyptian or otherwise, and establishes a date from a formulated sequence of events. “For example,” Wikipedia explains, “a number of inscribed stone vessels of the rulers of the first two dynasties were collected and deposited in storage galleries beneath the Step Pyramid of Djoser, a Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, which were sealed off by the construction of that building.” The article goes on to add that sometimes stones from previously built structures were repurposed for the edifices of consequent pharaohs. They use lists of kings and events recorded by pharaohs and other Egyptians to establish a timeline. Based on logical time assumptions, such as the length of a reign or war, this supposedly allows historians to form a sequence of events from that time and narrow down the dates.

The Egyptian chronology also makes use of other chronologies of the nations adjacent to it, most notably Assyria and Babylon. Assyrian chronology is widely regarded as trustworthy, even among Revised Chronology advocates (Ashton and Down, 71). The most well-known evidence for this is from the Amarna Letters, a correspondence between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten and other Middle Eastern kings and kingdoms (Wikipedia).

The Apis Bull is also used as a basis for which to date events. The Apis bull was an actual bull that was chosen to be the ba or physical manifestation of the Egyptian deity Ptah (Shaw and Nicholson, 38). When the current Apis bull died, another was chosen. Certain stela in Egypt mention the deaths of the various Apis bulls and so historians are able to compare them with the events during the reigns of the pharaohs. It is more difficult to use this dating method than others because of the documentation on this topic is scarce.

The synchronisms with the Sothic cycle are some of the best evidence for the Traditional Chronology. The Egyptians recorded the rising of Sothis and historians use this to date the pharaohs.

There are some references to “the rising of Sothis” which is assumed to have been the sighting of the bright star Sirius after it had been obscured by our earth’s orbit around the sun. It is further assumed that the Egyptians always had a 365-day year . . . It was therefore assumed that over a period of four years the Egyptian new year would be one day in arrears. After 40 years, that Egyptian new year would lag ten days behind, and over a period of 1,460 years, the Egyptian new year would come back to its starting point, and this was the “Sothic Cycle” (Ashton and Down, 74).

In essence then, historians have calculated that every 1,460 years the Egyptian calendar had fallen back a year from the current time-frame for years, so that a few years need be added to the chronology because of their error. It might also be noted that Egypt was major in the world scene for over 2,700 years (Casson, 11), and consequently the chronology must be pushed back two years for every 2,920 years the chronology (2,920 is two sets of 1,460).

Carbon-14 dating or radiocarbon dating is also used as confirmation of the Traditional Chronology. This method has placed rocks from the 1st and 2nd Dynasties to between the 31st or 32nd Century B.C., confirming the hypothesis of the archaeologists who dated it between the 30th and 34th Centuries (Wikipedia).

The Thera eruption is used not only in Egyptian chronology, but also in Aegean, or Minoan, chronology. Radiocarbon dating is also used in this area, as it places the eruption between 1,627 B.C. and 1,600 B.C., whereas the traditional date, 1,500 B.C., is only a half-century off (Wikipedia).

Dendrochronology, the means by which historians date events based on the tree rings found in fragments of wood is also employed to confirm the traditional view. It has been found on funerary boats and dated to times aligning with the Traditional Chronology via radiocarbon dating (Wikipedia).


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