James H. L. Lawler
FIXED DATES at 15 Feb 3080 BC
It is now possible to fix Old, Middle and New Kingdom chronology of Egypt in absolute time. The link to place the Old Kingdom comes from the records of flooding of the Nile river contained in the four fragments of The Palermo Stones: Shäfer (1902) and Breasted (1906); The London fragment: Petrie (1916); and the Cenival fragment (1965)), most particularly the Palermo Stone (see Plate CAH). This overall record was reconstructed by Weigal in 1929, from using only the two main fragments, and has been of major use in development of chronology, see CAH (Cambridge Ancient History) vol. 1 for details. The actual flood records are found extracted by Helck, but they must be placed in relationship to one another to be of maximal use. Here we initially followed Weigal’s chronology, but the CAH also is gratifyingly close to the final result, and there would have been no major difference in the final reconstruction if CAH had been used.
Quinn (1992) showed conclusively that the Nile river floods in the “recent” period from 622 AD to 1990 were very closely correlated to the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), El Niño and La Niña events. When an El Niño event happens there is a deficiency in rain fall in North-East Africa, and the Nile river showed a lower than normal flow in flood, i.e. a biblical drought flood season. The La Niña event carries excess water, to NE Africa and the Nile had an unusually high flood. Dendrochronology also has been linked to the ENSO events, and thus also linked to the Nile river flood seasons.
In El Niño ed. by Diaz and Margraf, page 95 David B. Enfield. p 203 Edward R. Cook et al. reconstructed El Niño events far before the present records which extend only from about 1870 to 1998, with a few diary entries of abnormal weather going back as far as 1554. The reconstructed records from Tree Ring data and showed a very high correlation of the US tree ring data with known events, giving a very high probability of correct analysis, particularly for strong events. This Author also has done analysis of German oak tree ring data (Spessart and Trier forests 820 AD to 1977) and Java data (1500 to 1940) and these also showed this conclusive match of dendrochronology to ENSO events.
There is available from the ITRDB (International Tree Ring Data Base) on Internet a very long time data base for Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longivea), and particularly the site by D.A. Graybill known as Methuselah Walk to 6000 BC, and the site by C.W. Freguson et. al. called White Mountain Master going back to 5140 BC. To check the BCP against other tree records Indian Garden (to 2370 BC) (Graybill), Mammoth Creek (to 1 AD) (Graybill) and Hill 518 all were entered and compared, but only two sites went back to 3300 BC as desired.
The dendrochronology was then compared to the Palermo etc. fragments as presented by Helk after the data were converted to Meters using 0.543 meters for a cubit, 7 hands or palms to a cubit, and 28 fingers to a cubit (2 spans = 7 hands). The precise conversion are not critical so long as they are consistent as the results are to be compared to tree ring growth patterns and there is an unknown - or at least undetermined - conversion of tree ring growth to flood height.
When plotted there fortuitously was a “finger print” at about 3080 BC that matched one and only one alignment of Nile floods to the dendrochronology. The estimated chronology had to be slipped a gratifyingly small 8 years to make a perfect fit. That is shown in fig 1. There is one caveat that must be mentioned. The tree ring data have inserted in them an artificial year of “0” BC or AD to allow computer usage of real number sequences. Thus 2 BC in the dendrochronology is really 3 BC Julian. That has been accounted for in the dates shown. There also is one Egyptian Civil Calendar date given for the start of the reign of Semerkhet, thus we now can fix the death of Anedjib (Merib, Enzib) and start of reign of Semerkhet as 15 Feb. 3080 BC. The Palermo data also allow us to lock in 1 Zoser as 2751 BC, but; unfortunately, without the exact calendar date. The dates prior to 2751 gradually may slip up to about 1 year error by 2294 but the beginning and ending dates of the first to 6th dynasties are also known to be 955 years by the Turin fragments, so the probable errors are thus diminished by adding all known facts into the analysis.
The middle kingdom is fixed by three things. The year 7 of Senworset III or 1872 BC is fixed by sothic and lunar dates that when compared allow of no other date. This again allows one precise date -coincidentally also 15 Feb. in 1962 for the death of Amenemhet I after 10 years of coregency with Senworset I. The known totals or 213 y 1 month and 17 days also fixes relative beginning and end dates of the 11 th and 12 th dynasties, so that while some of the in between dates are perhaps up to 2 years possible error the begining and ending dates are firm. Much of this analysis has been adequately discussed in CAH so that will not be repeated here.
The dates for the New Kingdom have been adequately discussed by Casperson and Redford with only a few added comments. The rising of Sirus (Sothis) 9 th day of 3 rd month 3 rd season of 9 Thuthmose I plus lunar observations uniquely fixes that reign, and the 54 Ramses II Eclipse data allows only of start dates of 1304, 1292, 1279 et al, but the dates other than 1304 can not be reconciled with the Thuthmose I dates and the fact that the sothic cycle ending 139 AD also was complete in 1368 BC which had to lie in the “extended reign” of Horemheb - probably actually under Akenaton, and near his “heresy” changing to the new god and moving to his new capital. Thus only 1304 fits all the data, giving us a few exact dates early and in the middle of the period.
Breasted, J.H. 1906 Ancient Records of Egypt Vol 1, U Chicago Press
Casperson, Lee W. JNES 45 #2 (1986) p 139
Cenival, J.L. Un Nouveau fragment de la Pierre de Palmero 1965 Bull. Soc. Fr. d’Egyptologie No 44 (Dec.) p 11-17
Cambridge Ancient History, I.E.S. Edwards 1964 (fac 25); Smith 1962
Diaz, Henry F. and Markgraf, Vera editors (ENSCO) El Niño: Historical and Paleoclimatic aspects of the southern oscillation 1992 and 1993 ed.
Helck, W. “Nilhöhe und Julbiläumsfest” Z. Ägypt. Sprache 1966, 93 p 74-79
Peitre, W.M.F. New Portions of the Annals 1916 Anc Egypt p 114-120
Quinn, William H. in ENSCO ed. Diaz p 119 “A Study of Oscillation - related climatic activity for AD 622 - 1990 incorporating Nile River Flood Data.
Redford, D.B. Journal Near East Studies 1966 Vol. 25 p 51-65
Shäfer, H. Ein Bruchstüch altägptischer Annalen, Abh. Akad. Wisenschaften, Berlin 1902
Weigal “A History of the Pharaohs” Vol. 1, 1929
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