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Image from Petrie Museum, UCL, via NBC.12 The investigators assumed that all (or all but one, as Queen Merneith was possibly co-regent with her son) ruled with non-overlapping reigns.13 This is a major assumption given that much of the difficulty with Egyptian chronology has stemmed from the probability that many rulers presumed to have reigned in sequence actually ruled at the same time, perhaps regionally.By comparison with the fragmentary records of ancient Egypt, such as inscriptions on the Palermo Stone—containing some of the Royal Annals through the Fifth Dynasty—they estimated the accession dates of the reigns of eight First Dynasty monarchs.Many bits of organic material carbon-dated in the latest study of Egypt’s First Dynasty originally came from these tombs.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.Since then, the average date assigned has been around 3100 BC.2 Dee’s study fits with this trend.Egypt’s ancient timeline has long been a subject of debate.

Previously assigned dates were used to narrow the focus of each radiocarbon test, for even if all the assumptions underlying interpretation of radiocarbon tests were verifiably accurate, results are not exact.9 The Royal Tombs at Abydos are associated with Egypt’s First Dynasty.

The new study brings radiocarbon dating to the table.

The investigators did radiocarbon testing on a few freshly excavated seeds from the Gaza Strip but primarily tested museum samples.

Bits of bone and hair and plant material associated with several individuals could therefore be expected to come from each monarch’s reign, helping mark out roughly how long each ruled.

The fragmentary dynastic records recorded on the Palermo Stone, combined with other data, are used in an effort to zoom in on the actual dates of Egypt’s founding as a nation.

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