New timeline for ancient Egypt unveiled

5 September 2013

Umm el-Qa'ab, Egypt

Collaborative research on the origins of ancient Egypt led by Oxford University and involving David Wengrow and Alice Stevenson of UCL is gaining significant media attention.

The collaborative research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust has been working to establish a new absolute chronology for the formation of the Egyptian state using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling and the researchers have just published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

The study, which provides a robust timeline for the first eight dynastic rulers of ancient Egypt, suggests that Egypt formed far more rapidly than was previously thought and also updates the techniques first developed by Flinders Petrie (who published a relative chronology for Early Egypt based on the stylistic evolution of ceramics) over 100 years ago.

Egypt was the first manifestation of the territorial state, in many respects the forerunner of all modern countries. This ground-breaking research which has produced an absolute chronology for the Predynastic period should allow for new insights into this influential period in human history.

Read more 

  • ‘An absolute chronology for early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical modelling’ by Michael Dee et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society A 2013, 469.

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