BAR 36:05, Sep/Oct 2010
Radiocarbon Dating Confirms Egyptian/Israelite Chronology
How do we know that Pharaoh Tutankhamun reigned from exactly 1333 to 1324 B.C. or that Ramesses II’s rule lasted precisely from 1279 to 1213 B.C.? Our current calendar was instituted by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. and slightly modified by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, so how do we apply meaningful dates to ancient Egyptian events that predate our own system by hundreds and thousands of years?
Until now, scholars used ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian king lists—documents that meticulously record the succession of kings and the lengths of their reigns over hundreds of years. But these created only relative chronologies. These ancient sources weren’t fixed to a precise date, so although they might tell us that Ramesses II ruled for 66 years, between the reigns of Seti I and Merneptah, they didn’t tell us the actual years according to our modern dating system.a