The reconstruction of chronology of Dynastic Egypt as aided by the Kemetian literature, is in fact not a simple matter in Egyptology; it has been done primarily on the basis of inscriptional archeological evidence, which provide information on certain dating mediums like, Sothic dates.
Available inscriptions that help in this process include Egyptian King Lists:
- The Table of Abydos.
- The Table of Sakkara.
- The Table of Karnak.
- The Palermo Stone.
- The Turin Papyrus (Turin Canon)
- Manetho Lists.
- Other useful references include, Genesis chronologies from Masoretic version, Septuagint version, and Samaritan version.
- References to Mesopotamian King lists also become handy,...
- ...as well as the Egyptian Solar, lunar and Sothic calendar, which contrasts with the Mesopotamian calendar and lunar cycles. (Sothic calendars and dating comprises works of Egyptologists like Alan Gardiner, Theodore Oppolzer, Edward Meyer, Edward Wente and Charles Van Siclen, W.G. Waddell, and others)
Dating techniques described earlier, could also be used to construct other history, like the possible roots of Isrealites in Kemet. Here, both Biblical and archeological references would be utilized to recontruct the possible chronology of events. In order to understand correlation of Genesis chronology to that of Dynastic Egypt, the Egyptian dating system had to be understood from the Egyptian perspective, and then interpreted into the standard solar calendar. This would be essential to putting the time frame of Isrealite departure from Kemet in its proper historical and political context.
Israelites, heavily dependent on Biblical interpretation of history, claim a history that takes us back to a time when notable great civilizations (like Kemet) were thriving. So in essence they are claiming a separate tradition, which one would expect to be in tune with its contemporaries, in terms of record keeping. There is no reason to deny so, after all, we have clear portraits of long-lived ancestors. Like what was said earlier of Kemetian Kings/divine characters earlier, i.e., proceeding from a mythical phase to the historical phase, so is the case with Biblical chronology. Biblical chronology (which again early Israelite history is dependent on) also begins in the mythological period, with its characters also enjoying extraordinary life spans, and it continues well into the historical era, late into 2nd millennium B.C. What is perculiar about the Biblical chronology, is this: even at this historical stage, people named in this later time, still seem to occupy a mythological status, living extraordinary life spans, often hundreds of years than any believable human life span. Add to this, the fact that none of the people named have turned up in any records as actual rulers among the Hebrews or any other Semitic-speaking nation. The apparent reason for this peculiarity of Biblical chronology in comparison to its contemporaries in the likes of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, is that actual Isrealite history as a separate entity is relatively much recent, and does not reach as far back as the aforementioned cultures. It came from another culture, and concrete evidence available points to Kemet, but this is a topic for another day in its own right, to be explored in more detail on this site in the foreseeable future.
Indeed, Egyptian dating system has been used (as reference points) in assisting scholars to determine chronologies in other cultures within the "Mediterranean" regions and so-called "near East".
Ancient Egyptians had an innovative calendar system, the 365-day solar calendar, which was different from its contemporaries (Mesopotamia used a lunar calendar of 354 days, and 360-day calendar) and setting the example that modern calendars follow. The Egyptians had a lunar calendar too, which made use of a 25 year cycle.
As noted earlier here, Egyptologists have used the various kings lists, but they've also taken into account some discrepancies between them, in terms of the chronologies provided. So the additional tool of approximating the chronologies, comes from the Egyptian sothic year, using Sothic cycles as reference points.
The shortcoming of the Egyptian 365-day civil calendar was that, it didn't have the extra-quarter day, that is exemplified by the quadrennial leap year of the modern solar calendar. As a result, the Egyptian civilian calendar fell short of another quarter day of the true solar year, which meant that it couldn't tell farmers when seasons began and when the annual inundation of Nile flood would begin. But of course, the Egyptians had a way around this: they figured out the correlation between the heliacal rising of Sothis and the beginning of the Nile flood. To make sure that the New year on the civilian calendar, which fell short of one quarter of day ever year, coincides with the rise of Sothis, the Egyptians came to the realization that it should take 1,460 solar years for the civil calendar to lose 365 days. Thus, with 1,460 solar years equaling 1,461 Egyptian civil years, the Nile flood and the solar cycle were harmonized. As such, the 1,460 year Sothic cycle, known as the Sothic year, had a full day every four years and a full month every 120 years, imitated the civil calendar. This Sothic year proved instrumental in guiding Egyptologists in reconstructing the chronology with respect to the true solar year, as is used today. Indeed, the Egyptian calendar system has also been useful in constructing chronology of other contemporaneous cultures, like those of Mesopotamia.
From Manetho's list, Egyptologists relate the 13th and 17th dynasties to the Theban kings, while the 15th and 16th Dynasties are associated with the Hyksos. The 14th dynasty could have been contemporaneous with the 13th dynasty, and could have either belonged to a line of native Kings or Hyksos. This seems to be a rather chaotic period of dynastic Egypt, and it appears to be reflected in available Kings lists. The Hyksos period is therefore not called the 'dark' period for nothing.
The relative uncertainty about 14th dynasty, based in the Xois city of the north, may well be due to the possibility that, around this time, its local line of rulers were probably under some degree of Hyksos influence or authority, like "vassaldom". And as far as the 16th dynasty is concerned, absence of archeological evidence in support of a line of kings belonging to the Hyksos makes its existence rather questionable.
It should be examined how the Hyksos might have come into the country, because it appears that the Egyptians had a fortified eastern border, with troop presence. So any influx into the nation would have been checked. It seems probable that Egyptians themselves allowed some infiltration of Asiatics into the Delta, possibly for trade reasons:
Hyksos rule of Egypt was probably the climax of waves of Asiatic immigration and infiltration into the northeastern Delta of the Nile. This process was perhaps aided by the Egyptians themselves. For example, Amenemhat II records, in unmistakable language, a campaign by sea to the Lebanese coast that resulted in a list of booty comprising 1,554 Asiatics, and considering that Egypt's eastern border was fortified and probably patrolled by soldiers, it is difficult to understand how massive numbers of foreign people could have simply migrated into northern Egypt. These people migrated, or otherwise moved to the region from the 12th Dynasty onward, and by the 13th Dynasty, this migration became widespread...
...One hypothesis is that the basic population of Egyptians allowed, from time to time, a new influx of settlers, first from the region of Lebanon and Syria, and subsequently from Palestine and Cyprus.
The leaders of these people eventually married into the local Egyptian families, a theory that is somewhat supported by preliminary studies of human remains at Tell el-Dab'a. Indeed, parallels for the foreign traits of the Hyksos at Tell el-Dab'a have been found at southern Palestinian sites such as Tell el-Ajjul, at the Syrian site of Ebla and at Byblos in modern Labanon. - TourEgypt.Net
At any rate, it appears that ambitious leaders among these immigrants were aided in their adventure, in part due to new imported military concepts they came with, and on the other hand, the existing political weakness during the late 13th dynasty. They subsequently (in late 18th century B.C.) were able to make their capital at Avaris, and then Memphis, 50 years later or so. It should be noted however, that the expansion of Hyksos rule towards upper Egypt was slow paced, and they were never able to adequately rule upper Egypt.
As a matter of fact, no clear chronological line demarcates the 13th dynasty from the 17th dynasty, both of which appeared to have been running in Upper Egypt, during the Hyksos period. Some Egyptologists have been tempted to further subdivide these two dynasties into a number of dynasties, under the suspicion that some of the kings in these dynasties formed an independent political entity from their immediate predecessor, particularly the last few kings of the 17th dynasty.
It is generally accepted that Kamose, the Theban King, took the initiative of launching a war of liberation to drive out the Hyksos. The subsequent victory was completed under Ahmose's watch, with the re-unification of Egypt, and bringing the Theban authority to the fore again.
Prior to Ahmose's re-unification of Egypt, Nebhepetre's (Menthotpe II) moving of the capital to Thebes upon victory over Herakleopolis, left a lasting impact on the minds of Egyptians. Evidence of this, is a temple inscription, dating to the 19th dynasty, bringing together the names of three kings; Menes, Nebhepetre (Menthotpe II) and Ahmose. According to William C. Hayes, these folks were "obviously" regarded "as the founders of the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms". It appears from this, that in the 19th dynasty, Egyptians viewed national history in terms of these three epochs, each marked by unification of the nation by a Pharaoh, after political upheaval. This probably explains the confusion expressed in the following article:
Archeologists have found the tomb of pharaoh Nubkeperre Inyotef with the aid of a papyrus document that could help find more royal tombs
Cairo, July 01, 2001 (AFP/Agence France Presse) - Archeologists have discovered the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh with the aid of a papyrus document they now realize could help them find more royal tombs, antiquities officials have said. A German working on the west bank of the Nile near present-day Luxor found the tomb of Nubkeperre Inyotef, who is believed to have started the war of liberation against Hyksos invaders around 3,500 years ago, they said.
"Historically speaking, it is a very exciting find," the secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Gaballah Ali Gaballah, said when asked to comment on a German news report of the find. "It validates the information on the papyrus document," he said.Nubkeperre Inyotef's tomb was mentioned in the so-called Abbot Papyrus, a 20th dynasty document now in the British Museum which detailed royal tombs that were pillaged in a period of anarchy under that dynasty, he said...
Coregencies have caused confusion in the copying of original sources that may have been available, resulting in questionable durations of reign of various Kings.
Another perspective on the impact of King lists on the chronology of dynasties and other event, comes from Gary Greenberg [see Ancient Israelites: Bible Myth], who in turn made reference to the traditional chronology of the Twelfth Dynasty in Gardiner's Egypt of the Pharaohs. According to Greenberg, the King list has two unusual features; "one is the repeated use of the same name by several Kings, four of whom adopted the name Amenemhe and three others who used the name Senwosre", and the other, "is the larege number of coregencies in this dynasty. Five of the eight rulers share a portion of their reigns with their successors."
From Alan Gardiner's Egypt of the Pharaohs, the traditional chronology of the 12th Dynasty:
- Amenemhe I: Duration of rule>1991-1962; Highest Year Mark>30; Length of Coregency with Successor>10.
- Senwosre I: Duration of rule>1971-1928; Highest Year Mark>44; Length of Coregency with Successor>2.
- Amenemhe II: Duration of rule>1929-1928; Highest Year Mark>35; Length of Coregency with Successor>3.
- Senwosre II: Duration of rule>1897-1877; Highest Year Mark>6; Length of Coregency with Successor>2.
- Senwosre III: Duration of rule>1878-1843; Highest Year Mark>33; Length of Coregency with Successor> NA.
- Amenemhe III: Duration of rule>1842-1797; Highest Year Mark>45; Length of Coregency with Successor>2.
- Amenemhe IV: Duration of rule>1798-1790; Highest Year Mark>6; Length of Coregency with Successor>NA.
- Sobeknofru: Duration of rule>1789-1786; Highest Year Mark>NA; Length of Coregency with Successor>NA.
The above is "an outline of the coregencies" involved.
Greenberg then does the honor of outlining the coregencies:
- Amenemhe I: Coregency with Predecessor>none; Independent Reign without Coregents>20; Coregency with Successors>10.
- Senwosre I: Coregency with Predecessor>10; Independent Reign without Coregents>32; Coregency with Successors>2.
- Amenemhe II: Coregency with Predecessor>2; Independent Reign without Coregents>30; Coregency with Successors>3.
- Senwosre II: Coregency with Predecessor>3; Independent Reign without Coregents>16; Coregency with Successors>2.
- Senwosre III: Coregency with Predecessor>2; Independent Reign without Coregents>34; Coregency with Successors>NA.
- Amenemhe III: Coregency with Predecessor>NA; Independent Reign without Coregents>44; Coregency with Successors>2.
- Amenemhe IV: Coregency with Predecessor>2; Independent Reign without Coregents>7; Coregency with Successors>NA.
- Sobeknofru: Coregency with Predecessor>NA; Independent Reign without Coregents>4; Coregency with Successors>NA.
Total years of Coregency with Successors = 19
According to Greenberg, concerning the above outline of coregencies:
Coregencies create something of an anomaly in Egyptian theology. If the sitting pharaoh represented the god Horus, which of the coregents filled that role? Although coregencies were not unknown prior to the Twelfth Dynasty, they appear to have been extremely rare. The sudden appearance of so many coregencies in one dynasty is a radical departure from tradition.This phenomenon, coupled with the repeated use of names, appears to have caused ancient Egyptian chronographers to make some errors in compiling their king lists...
Egyptian king lists provide two chronological histories of the Twelfth Dynasty, one in the Turin Canon and the other in Manetho.
Some interesting reading on erratic element of the following papyri King lists on the dating and the chronological layout of following Dynasties...
Greenberg's notes on The Turin Canon:
For lengths of reigns in the Twelfth Dynasty, the Turin Canon has four complete entries and four damaged entries. The four readable entries are as follows:
Senwosre I: 45 years
Senwosre II: 19 years
Amenemhe IV: 9 years, 3 months, 27 days
Sebeknofru: 3 years, 10 months, 24 days
The Turin Canon also says that the dynasty had a total duration of 213 years, 1 month, and 16 days. This is approximately 7 years longer than the actual total for the 12th Dynasty and indicates some confusion about the treatment of coregencies.
Senwosre I, Senwosre II, and Amenemhe IV each shared portions of their reign with a coregent, but the Turin Canon does not indicate which portions of which reigns were served by coregents. Senwosre I shared ten years with his predecessor and 2 years with his successor. Senwosre II shared 3 years with his predecessor and 2 years with his successor. Amenemhe IV shared 2 years with his predecessor.
While both of Senwosre I's coregencies are included in the length of his reign, only one of the two for Senwosre II is included in his reign. The one coregency of Amenemhe IV appears to be included in his lenght of reign.
This suggests that the Turin Canon author either shortened other reigns to account for some of the additional coregencies, or may have mistakenly recorded the lengths of reign for some of the other kings. Unfortunately, it is these other reigns that have damaged entries, which prevents us from knowing how dating problems were handled.
The following example illustrates the problem. The Turin Canon total for the first king of the dynasty, Amenemhe I, only preserves a "9" - a portion of the total number of years, which indicates that if the entry weren't damaged, it would have read either "19" or "29". If "19" were the original entry, it would mean that the Turin Canon shortened Amenemhe I's reign by ten years to account for the coregency. If the correct entry were "29", then no adjustment would have occurred and the dynasty total would have been off by an additional ten years.
In any event, we see that as early as the 19th Dynasty, Egyptian scribes had trouble accounting for coregencies and recording an accurate dynastic duration.
And now, Greenberg's take on Manetho's king list:
Manetho's 12th Dynasty introduces us to a large number of errors, the detailed examination of which is beyond the scope this work. To begin with, the two versions of Manetho, Africanus and Eusebius, have different information. Although both agree on the chronology of the first five kings, the two lists radically differ with regard to the balance of the dynasty.
Africanus lists two additional kings with a total reign of twelve years, and gives the dynasty a total of 176 years.Eusebiusdescribes an unidentified number of successors ruling for forty-seven years and gives an unusually long dynastic total of 245 years, forty-seven years longer than the sum of all the duration listed and thirty-nine years longer than the actual lenght of the dynasty.
For purposes of our analysis, I want to focus only on Manetho's first five kings. He gives the following sequence and durations"
Ammenemes: 16 years
Sesonchosis: 46 years
Ammanemes: 38 years
Sesostris: 48 years
Lachares: 8 years
The Manetho list presents a few problems. It gives the first king a reign of sixteen years instead of twenty or thirty (depending on whether the coregency is included), and the second king (corresponding to Senwosre I) a reign of forty-six years. The second reign coincides quite well with the forty-five years in the Turin Canon and would appear to include all of the years served as coregent. But the first two reigns added together total sixty-two years, the exact number for the first two reigns if you exclude the coregency at the end of the second reign.
This suggests that four years belonging to the first king were mistakenly assigned to the reign of the second. If we reassign those four years, then Manetho's second king ruled only forty-two years, which coincides exactly with the true length of that king's reign prior to the start of his coregency with the third king. This would require that the coregency between Senwosre I and his successor (Amenemhe II) be included in the reign of Amenemhe II, and as we are about to see, that is the case.
According to Manetho, the third king, who should correspond to AmenemheII, had a reign of thirty-eight years. But the true length of that reign, including the coregencies at the beginning and end, should be no more than thirty-five years, leaving ample time for the initial coregency to be included in the total but giveing this pharaoh at least three more years than uld be allowed. Those years appear to have been erroneously transferred from Manetho's fourth king, Sesostris.
Many commentators believe that Manetho's Sesostris incorporates the reigns of both Senwosre II and Senwosre III (the fourth and fifth kings). In support of this conclusion, consider the following: In the traditional chronology, the first five kings to the end of Senwosre III ruled a total of 149 years (1991-1843 B.C.), whereas the first four kings in Manetho reigned a total of 148 years.
This means that the reigns of Manetho's first four Kings have exactly the right length for the first five Egyptian kings in the dynasty. (The one-year difference can be easily accounted for by a rounding error with the last year of reign.) Therefore, if Manetho's third king had a reign that is three years too long, those years must have been transferred from somewhere else. By coincidence, we see that Manethos's fourth reign is three years too short.
Manetho's forth king, combining Senwosre II and Senwosre III, ruled forty-eight years. Senwosre II's independent reign started in 1894 and Senwosre III's ended in 1843, resulting in a tptal reign of fifty-two years. Four years are missing, one of which was due to the rounding error. That leaves three years unaccounted for. Logic suggests they must have been assigned to the fourth king's predecessor, who has three years too many.
This erroneous transfer of three years most probably occurred because of ambiguities in some earlier source document concerning the three-year coregency. A scribe probably wrote that Senwosre II shared three years with Amenemhe II and the later editor may not have realized that the three shared years were already incorporated into the given length of reign for Amenemhe II. Consequently, the editor mistakenly transferred three additional years from Senwosre II's independent reign to Amenemhe II.
This brings us to Manetho's fifth king, Lachares, who served eight years. Lachares ought to correspond to the sixth king, Amenemhe III, who served for forty-five years. The Manetho reign is far too short, and at this point the two Manetho versions break apart. Africanus has two additional kings serving twelve years; Eusebius ntified number of kings serving fourty-two years.
From Manetho, then, we have confusion over coregencies, the combining of reigns, two instances in which years belonging to one reign were mistakenly transferred to another, and a breakdown after Senwosre III.
More links for further reading:
Were Egyptians the first scribes?
Lastly, much of the content above, albeit with slight modification was originally posted here: Dating in the Nile Valley
*As always, content is subject to updating.