» Home > In the News

Bayesian Reorganisation of Egyptian history

7 September 2013

This story can be found at various places such as www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23947820

A new timeline for the beginnings of Egyptian history has been announced – and dynasty One is being pushed forwards by a bit and the Pre-Dynastic reduced by around 300 years. This appears to be as a result of Bayesian C14 dating where an average of dates is deduced to achieve a more precise point in time. However, the Predynastic period was somewhat lengthy and to reduce it by 300 years appears to present problems on its own as C14 has been used on a limited number of objects – those that have been lucky enough to survive and fall into the hands of archaeologists. Is Bayesian C14 all that it is cracked up to be?

One other fall-out is that the beginnings of unified Egypt have been pushed towards 3100BC – which is not altogether unsurprising if the 3200BC event is perceived as some kind of dividing line (although the boundary seems very often to be at 3500 rather than 3200, another artefact of the C14 methodology, possibly as a result of calibration).

The news release doesn't mention later Egyptian dates – and I wonder if they intend to raise New Kingdom dates in order to comply with the Thera C14 dated olive tree branch?


Skip to content