Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2000 Nov 16;408(6810):320-4.

Ancient Egyptian chronology and the astronomical orientation of pyramids.

Author information

1
Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, UK. kes1004@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The ancient Egyptian pyramids at Giza have never been accurately dated, although we know that they were built approximately around the middle of the third millennium BC. The chronologies of this period have been reconstructed from surviving lists of kings and the lengths of their reigns, but the lists are rare, seldom complete and contain known inconsistencies and errors. As a result, the existing chronologies for that period (the Old Kingdom) can be considered accurate only to about +/-100 years, a figure that radiocarbon dating cannot at present improve. Here I use trends in the orientation of Old Kingdom pyramids to demonstrate that the Egyptians aligned them to north by using the simultaneous transit of two circumpolar stars. Modelling the precession of these stars yields a date for the start of construction of the Great Pyramid that is accurate to +/-5 yr, thereby providing an anchor for the Old Kingdom chronologies.

PMID:
11099032
DOI:
10.1038/35042510

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center