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The Chronology of Tell el-Daba: A Crucial Meeting Point of 14C Dating, Archaeology, and Egyptology in the 2nd Millennium BC

Walter Kutschera, Manfred Bietak, Eva Maria Wild, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Michael Dee, Robin Golser, Karin Kopetzky, Peter Stadler, Peter Steier, Ursula Thanheiser, Franz Weninger


Radiocarbon dating at the Tell el-Daba site in the Nile Delta has created an enigma for many years. Despite great efforts, the difference of about 120 yr between the chronology based on 14C dates and the one based on archaeological evidence linked to the Egyptian historical chronology has not been solved. In order to foster open discussions on this discrepancy, we present here the results of 40 14C accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements on short-lived plant material assigned to 14 different phases of the Tell el-Daba excavation, spanning 600 yr (about 2000–1400 BC). On the one hand, the recently established agreement between 14C dates and dynastic Egypt (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2010) makes it unlikely that the problem lies in the 14C dates and/or the Egyptian historical chronology. On the other hand, the extensive archaeological evidence from Tell el-Daba linked to many different cultures in the eastern Mediterranean and to the Egyptian historical chronology provides strong evidence for an absolute chronology shifted by about 120 yr with respect to the 14C dates.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.v54i3–4.16187

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