The researchers constructed a separate model for each of the three main Egyptian periods: Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom. New Kingdom pharoah Rameses II, considered the greatest of the Egyptian kings by historians, clocks in between 12 B. In a Perspective accompanying the paper, archaeologist Hendrik Bruins of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel points out that one major controversy remains unresolved: the timing of the massive eruption of the volcanic island of Thera in the Aegean Sea, which transformed the history of the eastern Mediterranean and has important implications for understanding the relationship between Egypt and the Minoans, another powerful culture of the time. But radiocarbon and historical dating by University of Vienna archaeologist Manfred Bietak's team at Tell el-Dab'a in Egypt has concluded that the Thera eruption took place during the New Kingdom era.
This allowed them to increase the precision of radiocarbon dating of each period to 76, 53, and 24 years, respectively. The New Kingdom, which starts with the reign of Ahmose, began between about 15 B. Previous radiocarbon dating suggests that the eruption took place at least 100 years before the New Kingdom began, which the new dating puts at no earlier than 1570 B. Bietak says that although the new study is a "serious and innovative approach," the team's need to use Bayesian statistics to narrow its radiocarbon date ranges "expose[s] the weakness of radiocarbon chronology." But Sturt Manning, an archaeologist at Cornell University, says that the field must now accept that "there is something wrong" with the stratigraphy and dating of the site of Tell el-Dab'a rather than the chronology as a whole.
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