New date established for the origin of ancient Egypt

UK scientists have established that the state came into existence more recently than previously thought

Scientists have established a new timeline for the origin of ancient Egypt.

A UK team found that the region’s transformation from a land of isolated farmers into a state ruled over by a king was more rapid than previously thought, the BBC reports.

Through a combination of radiocarbon dating and computer models, the scientists estimate that the civilisation’s first ruler, King Aha, came to power in about 3100BC.

Previous research had suggested that the area’s transformation began 300 years before the date established by the recent analysis.

The team’s research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Previously Egypt’s origins had been dated using estimates based on gradually differing styles of ceramics discovered in human burial sites due to a lack of written records.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Dee, from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said, “The formation of Egypt was unique in the ancient world. It was a territorial state; a state from which the moment it formed had established borders over a territory in much the same way we think of nations today.”

”Trying to understand what happened in human history to lead people to establish this sort of polity we felt was a gap in understanding that needed to be filled,“ he added.

The scientists used radiocarbon dating on excavated artefacts, including hair, bones and plants, with established archaeological evidence and computer models to help uncover when the civilization first came into existence.

Previous records suggested the pre-Dynastic period, when groups of people began to settle along the Nile to farm the land, began in 4000BC. But the new analysis revealed this process started later, between 3700 or 3600BC.

The team found that just a few hundred years later, by about 3100BC, society had transformed to one under the rule of a king.

Speaking to the BBC Dr Dee said, ”The time period is shorter than was previously thought, about 300 or 400 years shorter.

“Egypt was a state that emerged quickly - over that time one has immense social change.

“This is interesting when one compares it with other places. In Mesopotamia, for example, you have agriculture for several thousand years before you have anything like a state.”

Commenting on the research, Professor Joann Fletcher from the department of archaeology at the University of York, said, “This is highly significant work, which pulls the beginnings of Egypt's dynastic history into much sharper focus - it is tremendously valuable to have such a precise timeline for Egypt's first rulers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee