Monday, December 11

Early Eighteenth Dynasty Chronology

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Early Eighteenth Dynasty Chronology

Ancient Egypt has been a source of wonder and fascination for centuries; indeed, in the west, Egypt was one of the few places where gentlemen archaeologists and adventurers would flock to. The incredibly rich history, mythology and monuments have been a source of inspiration for historians and artists alike.

Since the start of the 20thcentury, Egyptian chronology has remained virtually intact, being based on historical records. “The annual reappearance of the bright star Sothis, which we know as Sirius, in the sky just before sunrise was a feast day for the Egyptians. It was dutifully recorded in the Egyptian documents as taking place on particular civil year days. Since the later Egyptian civil year was one of 365 days and the astronomical year of Sothis was 365.25 days, a methodical displacement of the heliacal rising took place in the Egyptian calendar”. This has helped scholars work out the yearly dates for ancient events in Egypt.

However, scholars are now taking a closer look at the calendars of ancient Egypt. It has long been established that the Egyptians used a new moon to work out their lunar calendar but they also used a new crescent moon dating system as well. “The fact that simplifies the operation is that new moons in the Egyptian 365-day calendars repeat themselves every 25 years. Consequently, once the x,26 date is established, one can move in 25-year steps to make other calculations”. This makes determining the chronology of the different dynasties, problematic and confusing.

The start of the 18th Dynasty begins with the 30thand 31styear of an unidentified king, 1549-1548 BCE, probably Ahmose I, before Thutmose III came to the throne. His coronation took place May 1, 1490 BCE according to one scholar in 1935, but there are four dates for him – the Sothic date is 1465-1462 BCE, as well as two lunar moon dates and an inscription on the seventh pylon at Karnak.

If going by the Sothic date instead of the original dating then this means that the start of the 18thDynasty was in 1558 BCE, 21 years earlier than the original thinking. “It is immediately apparent that Ahmose I’s reign takes up no fewer than six of these years to reach his 31stregal year. There is also the good possibility as cited in note 20 that he may have reigned 40 years or more. If Ahmose is allowed a full 40 year reign then there are only six years to distribute among the other three kings. For these other kings, there appears to be one excellent possibility for a correct year assignment”.

The 18thDynasty in ancient Egypt was a golden age for the country; some of the most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamen and Akhenaton, were from this period in time. The monuments built in this period are perhaps some of our best sources into understanding the history and the culture of this country. However, when we look at the different means of recording important dates in the Egyptian calendar, it may mean that we have to revise the given dates in order to be more accurate in the chronology of any Dynasty in this fascinating culture.

Bibliography:

Read, John (1970) Early Eighteenth Dynasty Chronology, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The University of Chicago Press.

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