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Ancient Egyptian Wisdom ... Daily Practice

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last month the BBC reported advancement in radio carbon dating which aided in verifying the historical chronology of ancient Kemet. The process showed the accuracy of the Old, Middle and New Kingdom’s timelines. This development is monumental since the dating of events is a problem of great controversy in Egyptology. This improvement in radio carbon dating will hopefully settle disputes over the Genesis of dynastic Kemet’s history and other points of contention.

For readers not familiar with radio carbon dating, it is the “method of determining the age of organic materials by measuring the amount of radioactive decay of an isotope of carbon, carbon-14 (C14).” This method of dating objects from ancient Kemet has been implemented for a long time but it has been plagued with many errors. However, with the efforts of researchers from the UK, France, Austria and Israel, a very precise statistical technique was used to improve the process.

Some of the oldest writings cataloguing ancient Kemet’s history are the Tablet of Karnak, the Tablet of Abydos, the Tablet of Saqqara, the Papyrus of Turin and the chronology of the famous African scholar-priest Manetho. Under the Greek ruler Ptolemy I, Manetho was commissioned to write a complete history of Kemet which was titled Aegyptiaca. It was Manetho that divided the various rulers of Kemet’s history into thirty dynasties. Unfortunately, much of this work was lost and only fragments of it have survived in the writing of classical writers such as Jewish historian Josephus and Christian historian Julius Africanus. Contemporary scholars have aimed to detail Kemet’s history, however, depending on what publication one reads, numerous dates will be presented as the beginning of Kemet’s dynastic era. The new carbon dating process can now be used to put everyone on the same page and help fill in the gaps when it comes to Kemet’s history, drawing us closer to viewing its astounding legacy in its totality.

The BBC report gave specific examples of the accuracy of the new discovery. 211 diverse samples were accurately dated from multiple museum collections. Samples from the tomb of Tutankhamun were accurately dated along with “seeds from a room underneath the Saqqara step pyramid dated to a specific year of the reign of King Zoser.” It was even calculated that Zoser’s reign on the throne of Kemet lasted from “2691 to roughly 2625 B.C.E.”

While this development is new excitement for students of Kemetic history, I am curious as to what else can it confirm for us? One issue of contention that also needs clarification is when was Hor-m-akhet (The Sphinx) built. Some scholars argue that it was constructed by Kufu or Khafre during the fourth dynasty around 2500 B.C.E. Others argue that it was built long before the dynastic period and is actually 10,000 years or more old. In Ivan Van Sertima’s “Egypt Child of Africa,” there is an essay by historian Manu Ampin titled “Redating the Sphinx.” Here, the author presents several arguments by multiple researchers calling for an earlier dating for the creation of Hor-m-akhet. Based on the erosion of the rocks that comprise the monument, it is possible that it was built prior to a time when the Giza area was subject to much precipitation. This hypothesis has yet to be confirmed but hopefully the new advancements in radiocarbon dating can verify its validity.

This discovery would give us a greater view of the scope of Ancient Kemet’s history and development. It would also allow us to view the evolution of Kemetic philosophy and spirituality. Since Hor-m-akhet is as a symbolic structure, knowing when it was built provides clarity on ancient Kemetic thought. In an interview African-centered scholar Asa G. Hilliared explains that the further we look back into Kemet’s history, the better are its philosophical and spiritual thoughts. It is thus imperative that we continue to get as close to the original concepts as possible to perceive Kemet’s many concepts in their proper context. After all, even the Kemites recognized this fact and left us with the proverb, “Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought. “ Thank you for reading.


Radiocarbon dating verifies ancient Egypt's history: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10345875.stm

Egypt: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2008: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Egypt.aspx#1E1-Egypt

Carbon Dating: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-carbondating.html

Van Sertima, Ivan, 1994 “Egypt Child of Africa,” New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers