Introduction - Chronology

  • Created by: Pinksoda
  • Created on: 20-12-18 13:08



  • Manetho's history = simple, assumes dynasties entailed 'simple passing of thrones'
  • Egypt less culturally unified and centralised - cultural/political changes took place at different speeds in different regions. Gradual socio-economic change had more long term effects, e.g types of fabric.
  • Also King's lists and non-Egyptian sources - e.g. Demotic circle good for D. 28-30 (lack on info)


  • Relative dating - sequence dating of artefacts (Petrie - 1899).
  • Absolute chronologies - calendrical/astronomical observations - smaller margin of errror
  • Radiometric dating  - measurement of radioactive decay to assign dates. - Prehistory benefitted from this.
  • *Calendrical/radioactive assumed to be complementary to each other
1 of 7

Pre-History to History

Few Late Pre-dynastic artefacts (e.g. funerary stelae) - mark transition to unified statehood. Commemorate royal acts including King's death or obeisance to gods.

Event and ritual often intertwined - reliant on this confusion to some degree.

Palermo Stone (5th-Dynasty basalt stelae) - notes annals of Lower Egyptian Kings. Mythological rulers to Horus to human Menes to 5th dynasty.

Horizontal registers divided by vertical lines - indicates events in individual years in each King's reign. Confusing - Old Kingdom dates refer to biennal cattle censuses and not number of years King has reigned.

Events included cult ceremonies, taxation, sculpture, building, warfare and records of Nile inundations

2 of 7

King-lists, Royal Titles and Divine Kingship

Egyptians dated significant events in terms of the years since the last King's accession. Each king = new beginning practically as well as philosophically.

5 names for 1 ruler - 3 linked to role as a god, other 2 emphasised supposed division between Upper and Lower Egypt. Birth name and four other ones - can link to ideology.

Title Nesu-bit = complex meaning. Nesu signified Kingship itself and bit signified individual king. Combination of divine and mortal. Reason for King-lists = to show obeisance to predecessors.

Turin Canon (13th Cent. BC) = most informative list, reaches back to Menes & supports Manetho (break at end of 5th dynasty)

King-lists concerned with ancestor worship as a combination of the general and individual (e.g. living King regarded as synonymous with falcon-god Horus).

3 of 7

Role of Astronomy

Observations of heliacal rising of dog-star essential to reconstruction of Egyptian calendar.

Goddess Sophet = personification of dog star - cow with plant between horns (plant = year - linking dog star to solar year since early 3rd Milennium BC??)

Sothic rising - once every 1460 years (although wandering year - lose a day every 4 years). In sync 139AD  - special coin issued at Alexandria. Rising records include 12th dynasty letter from Lahun and 18th dynasty Theban medical papyrus.

Not possible to be totally confident - separate local observations could have created a time lag for certain 'national' festivals

4 of 7


Took place since Middle Kingdom

12th dynasty - regents used separate regnal dates, leading to overlap ('double dates'), not present in New Kingdom.

Considerable controversy over whether they existed at all.

5 of 7

Main Chronological Problems

Unreliable of sources - e.g. original text and sources for Manetho's history unknown.

Some periods less documented than others - intermediate periods where social/political stability of pharonic period temporarily damaged (e.g. by civil war/invasion of foreigners)

3rd intermediate = most controversial. Study includes change in culture (ceramics/funeral equipment) & anthropological/iconographic/linguistic studies to link to Libyan ethic identity of 21st-24th dynasty rulers.

Basic historical divisions questionned culturally - e.g. Predynastic Naqada III pottery types used in early-dynastic period.

Do not know if change if just fashion. But definite connections between political and cultural change -  e.g centralisation in Old Kngsom and local pottery types in 1st intermediate period.

Selective attention to cultural change causes problems as litle known about it in terms of stability - cannot draw effective contrasts

6 of 7


  • Early funerary labels - history to date things
  • Mobiliatary art (e.g. pallettes) primarily for commemorating universal acts undertaken by specific rulers.

Rituals and real events inseparable. King noting history as a side effect of prseving Maat (harmony) for deities.

History also has mythological, ritual and economic elements.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »See all Egypt resources »