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I am reading about New Kingdom Egypt. Many events are doubly-dated. For example, Akhenaten's reign is given as 1353–1336 BCE or 1351–1334 BCE. These dates always seem to be two years apart.

I understand the difficulties which arise with dating ancient events, and that astronomical events and other synchronisms are used, imperfectly, to date events.

What specific dating systems are being used to give dates for this era and why are they two years apart?

  • I'm actually kind of surprised they think they have it down to two years. Probably that's just because those dates aren't very old. – T.E.D. Sep 13 '17 at 22:20
  • sempaiscuba's answer is more thorough and this is at best a comment...there are a few dating techniques used in studying the Eygptian Pharohs. Star positions, Carbon dating, and tablets such as the Palermo Stone or the Turin King List written by the Egyptians are all possible sources. They don't always line up (hampered by naming confusion where one king had two names or several kings used the same name). There's even disagreements if dynasty's truly existed (7th dynasty for example) or the succession order of the dynasty. Honestly 2 years is good, sometimes we see century wide differences – Twelfth Dec 14 '17 at 22:55
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I suspect that the particular example you have quoted is from the Wikipedia article on Akhenaten.

The references provided for the two date ranges are given as


More generally, the scholarly consensus is the so-called Conventional Egyptian chronology. There are some problems with the conventional chronology, however. Most of these are relatively minor, but the source of a lot of scholarly debate.

There are also a number of alternative chronologies, intended to solve specific problems with the conventional chronology. However, to date, none of these have been widely accepted.

The Wikipedia article provides a good overview.

  • Thanks. In this case I guess my question is: why does Beckerath disagree with the Conventional Chronology? – spraff Sep 13 '17 at 22:44
  • @spraff To be honest, I'm not sure. If you can get hold of a copy (and if you can read German) the answer is probably in his book Chronologie des pharaonischen Ägypte. – sempaiscuba Sep 13 '17 at 22:51

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