More on Egyptian chronology

11 Sep 2013

Science News at ... says about that statistical analysis that just 150 artefacts were involved (new C14 dates) taken from textiles, reeds, hairs and bones, plus 100 older C14 dated artefacts (added to boost the base). This was not just a Bayesian study of C14 dates but the findings were fitted into the chronology already established, particularly the sequence of pottery styles. They were of course looking for parameters to align their C14 dates. They also made use of the chronological order of the samples (which king preceded another king) and they could assume artefacts from the same tomb should have a roughly similar age. Some people might say the findings are compromised - how many C14 dates were discarded. If you are that worried you will need to go to the horses mouth and get hold of the full article. Statistics were the glue in order to average the dates and assemble them in order. The data was then plugged into a computer algorithm which came up with millions of possibilities. Most of these coalesced around a specific range of dates allowing researchers to come up with estimates in which they were confident.

Mostly, but not always, the results were consistent with previous approximations. Two date clusters stand out. 3700BC and 3100BC. The fairst agricultural villages are tied to the former and the first pharaoh of dynasty One to the latter date. The researchers concluded from, rightly or wrongly, that it took just 600 years to evolve from a migrating population out of the drying landscape of the Sahara, into a centralised state under a united kingship. Hence, there are some challenges ahead. Why did it take just 600 years to develop writing, adopt irrigation agriculture, develop techniques of building in stone, and so on.