Dendrochronology & Ancient Egypt: The Key to Time in the Mediterranean World?

October 28, 2016  1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Professor Pearce Paul Creasman (Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona) will present two lectures on October 28th. This afternoon lecture will be held at San Diego State University, Hardy Tower 140 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

Egypt, with its historical record and centuries of archaeological research, is an essential element in the chronological tapestry of the Bronze Age and the many events that took place during that period… including the Trojan War and the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt.  As a result of favorable preservation and the ancient Egyptian practice of ritually provisioning the dead for the afterlife, hundreds of tons of wood have been recovered from excavations in Egypt. Ancient ships, coffins, and architectural timbers provide a potentially robust source of material for chronological endeavors, especially dendrochronology. Yet, lacunae in fundamental understandings regarding the viability of native trees for tree-ring and other scientific analyses prevent meaningful contributions in this regard. If native taxa commonly recovered from the archaeological record could be included in the corpus of source material, a new wave of chronology building (among many other applications) could be undertaken. It may be finally possible to correlate pharaonic reigns and recorded events with local environmental conditions/reconstructions and, eventually, precise calendrical dates. If annual resolution could be offered for ancient Egypt, the impact across the interconnected ancient Mediterranean world would be profound. This presentation offers a review of such efforts, makes a case for further progress toward the construction of a tree-ring chronology for ancient Egypt, and provides the results of the first comprehensive effort to evaluate the utility of native Egyptian trees based on recent fieldwork.

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