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Ancient Egypt's Timeline Revealed; 'First Territorial State To Be Brought Under One Political Ruler,' And It Happened Faster Than Researchers Thought

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Sep 04, 2013 03:19 PM EDT

Scientists have mapped out a new timeline of ancient Egypt.
Scientists have mapped out a new timeline of ancient Egypt. (Photo : Reuters)

Scientists have mapped out the first solid timeline of the ancient rulers of Egypt, and some of the results were not what they expected.

Before this "time map" scientists has little idea about the chronology of events leading up the formation of the Egyptian state, an Oxford University press release reported.

Events between the years of 4500 and 2800 BC have been looked at in a new way using "mathematical models that combine new radiocarbon dates with established archaeological evidence."

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Site excavations collected bone, hair, and plant samples in order to perform over 100 new radiocarbon-dating procedures to be used in the study.

The researcher's findings suggest Egypt was the first territorial state to have the progressive idea of running under one supreme leader, and the process took place much more quickly than researchers had imagined.

Before this revolutionary study scientists had relied only on archaeological evidence (such as the style of pottery) to determine the chronology of the first eight Egyptian dynastic rulers. In some cases it was less difficult. Two ancient mud seals outline the order of the First Dynasty's kings.

Using the radiocarbon dating and mathematical formula, the scientists were able to predict the date of each king's rise to power with an accuracy within 32 years (within a 68 percent probability)

The study found King Aha's accession to the throne took place between the years of 3111 BC and 3045 BC.  

They believed the Predynastic period, which is characterized by the beginning of settlement and irrigation along the Nile river, was shorter than was once believed.

Researchers once believed the period began around 4000 BC.  "However, this model suggests it was probably closer to 3800-3700 BC, and the Neolithic period that preceded it lasted longer and finished later," the press release stated.

"The origins of Egypt began a millennium before the pyramids were built, which is why our understanding of how and why this powerful state developed is based solely on archaeological evidence. This new study provides new radiocarbon dating evidence that resets the chronology of the first dynastic rulers of Ancient Egypt and suggests that Egypt formed far more rapidly than was previously thought," lead author of the study Dr Michael Dee, from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said.

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