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However, the new dating evidence, published in the journal Science on 18 June, does rule out some chronologies that have been put forward - particularly in the Old Kingdom, which is shown to be older than some scholars thought.For example, in the Old Kingdom, Djoser, one of the best known pharaohs of the Third Dynasty of Egypt who is thought to have commissioned the first of the pyramids, was found to have ruled from between 26 BCE, about 50-100 years earlier than some experts thought.Egypt’s ancient timeline has long been a subject of debate.Archaeologists have depended mostly on fragmentary historical records and pottery types. Classification schemes are subjective, and variations among dig sites may not reflect progress through time.The museums were all very helpful in providing the material we were interested in to ask for their help.We are very grateful to them for providing us with the material we were interested in - especially important since the export of samples from Egypt is currently prohibited.“The formation of Egypt was unique in the ancient world.It was a territorial state; a state from which the moment it formed had established borders over a territory in much the same way we think of nations today,” Dee explained.
Oxford student Michael Dee combined the dates for the seeds, baskets, textiles, plant stems and fruit, which were all directly associated with the reigns of particular ancient Egyptian kings, with historical information about the order and length of each ruler to create the full chronology.
Image by Michael Dee, via NBC.10 The investigators statistically compared the results of radiocarbon testing on 74 new and 112 old specimens from Egypt’s Pre-Dynastic periods and First Dynasty with all the other archaeological data collected on those materials.
Samples that produced results more than 1,000 years different from those expected were excluded.
The team also undertook research on environmental samples from Oxford University Herbaria and found minor differences in radiocarbon levels in the region - important information for future dating studies.
Professor Christopher Ramsey said: ‘For the first time, radiocarbon dating has become precise enough to constrain the history of ancient Egypt to very specific dates.
An international research team has mapped out an accurate chronology of the kings of ancient Egypt using a radiocarbon analysis of short-lived plant remains from the region.