An absolute chronology for early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical modelling

Michael Dee, David Wengrow, Andrew Shortland, Alice Stevenson, Fiona Brock, Linus Girdland Flink, Christopher Bronk Ramsey

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.

  • Received June 14, 2013.
  • Accepted August 6, 2013.
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