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Dating Thutmose III

5 October 2022
Ancient history

An interesting article from Radiocarbon journal volume 53:1 [2011] may have chronological implications. The article is mainly concerned with radiocarbon dates from the Middle Bronze period at Portella, a settlement on the island of Salina, one of the Aeolian islands off the coast of Sicily. The MB in Italy of course differs from the MB in the Levant. Bear that in mind. It arrived later, presumably with newcomers. Some Aegean ceramics have been found at Portella, particularly from the LHIIIA period [which is LB in the eastern Mediterranean, and coinciding with dynasty 18 Egypt.

MB Sicily is generally dated 1400-1270BC, somewhat later than the Greek MB period. Portella itself had a life span of just 65 years, it has been calculated, embracing the middle of the 15th century BC. It coincided with the use of LHIIIA Greek pottery – as found in situ. Other pottery is associated with the Italian Apennine culture. The ceramics of this mainland Italian culture are considered post LHIIB in date, and therefore also contemporary LHIIIA. Where do these pottery ensembles occur in relation to Egypt? A consensus is forming, we are told, that LHIIIA began prior to the reign of Amenhotep III, the father of Akhnaton. Some are even saying it began as early as the reign of Amenhotep II and the late reign of his father, Thutmose III. This is by no means certain of course as previously it was thought the dividing line between LHIIIA and LHIIIB was the Amarna period. On that chronology the end of Portella would coincide with the Amarna era, indicating a decline in Egypt at the time coincided with similar decline and change elsewhere.

The point one may take from this article is that it seems to distance Thutmose III from the end of MB settlement in the Levant, which was often associated with site destructions. In addition, after the MB in the Levant and Aegean we have LHI, and LHIIA, as well as LHIIB to contend with. Is there too much room to accommodate the early part of dynasty 18 in that scenario? One wonder if the desire to associate the 1628-5BC low growth tree ring event with the Thera volcano is creating mischief amongst ceramic dating processes. At the same time, the radiocarbon anomaly is causing a similar amount of pressure on dating dynasty 18 exactly, often around 150 years too early.

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