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Thread: Reconsideration of the Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty

  1. #1 Reconsideration of the Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty 
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    Reconsideration of the Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty

    E. Lin


    The chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty is not completely satisfactory.

    It is currently accepted that Meritaten ruled Egypt for three years after the death of Akhenaten. It seems that the strongest evidence came from Manetho, who gave certain daughter of the king a reign of twelve years and one month. Unfortunately, Manetho’s twelve years was cut down to three, allegedly because the highest attested date was merely three years based on the finding of TT139. I suspect that the real reason is that the chronology, either high or low, was unable to accommodate the twelve-year period without causing major disturbance. Hence, the so-called “spurious decade” might not be any more spurious than the current three-year reign assigned to this Lady of Two Lands, unless it could be demonstrated that adding a decade to the reign had been an established practice of Manetho’s time, or he had a special motivation for doing so in this instance.

    In reality, it might not be so difficult to find an answer to all the confusions. Remember the name of the fourth daughter of Akhenaten? It is Neferneferuaten Tasheri, thus her mother must be Neferneferuaten, and that was, of course, Queen Nefertiti. As matter of fact, Akhenaten moved to the new capital Akhetaten (Amarna) in his Year 5. In the same year, Nefertiti adopted the name “Neferneferuaten”. Neferneferuaten Tasheri was born in Year 7. From Akhenaten Year 5 until Akhenaten Year 17, when he died, was exactly twelve years. This period is probably what Manetho referred to when he mentioned the twelve year reign. Of course, it would be coregency starting from the date when they moved to the new capital. As far as the title of king’s daughter, Nefertiti is said to be Princess Tadukhipa from Mitanni, according to some. If that is true, she is certainly entitled to this title. In any event, her facial feature does not resemble that of Ay, if the plaster of Ay is indeed his. Furthermore, Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet do not look like sisters even though they are suppose to be. I suspect that Nefertiti was merely adopted by Ay, if they got anything with each other at all.

    At this point, I should mention the Coregency Stela, where Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Meritaten have been identified. The name of Nefertiti was later changed to Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten, while the name of Meritaten was changed to Ankhesenpaaten. This is consistent with the known name change of Nefertiti to Neferneferuaten, although it is more difficult to explain why the name of Meritaten needs to be replaced.

    Regarding the widely quated “graffito” from the Theban Tomb of Pere (TT139), which reads "Year 3, 3rd month of the Inundation, day 10. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the Two Lands, Ankhkheprure - beloved of Aten, son of Re, Nefereneferuaten beloved of Waenre (Akhenaten) ... ", “Ankhkheprure” most likely refers to the new pharaoh Smenkhare, since his full name is Smenkhkare Djeserkheperu Ankhkheperure, as far as I know, while Nefereneferuaten (Nefertiti) is his step-mother. Apparently, Smenkhare ruled at least for three years after Akhenaten, while Nefertiti was still alive. Nefereneferuaten obviously means Nefertiti. In this case, the two of them seems to appear together.

    The rumor of Nefertiti’s death in Year 14 of Akhenaten is pure speculation. Her disappearance accompanied by the rise of Smenkhkare must be the result of Akhenaten’s decision to pass the throne his own son Smenkhkare rather than her. Another factor to be considered is that Nefertiti would have been merely over thirty years of age if she died in Year 14 of Akhenaten while her celebrated bust suggests an lady over forty. If she survived until the Restoration of Tutankhamun, she would be the right age to account for the statue of the “most beautiful woman in human history”.

    Finally, it is not likely that Smenkhkare died immediately after Akhenaten. If his health had been as bad as that, he probably would never be chosen as the successor. All these arrangements look very contrived. It is more convincing if Smenkhkare survived the old pharaoh for a few years. Hence, I suggest assigning the three years between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun to this poor fellow. Thus, the revised chronology would be as follows:

    Akhenaten 1353-1336
    Neferneferuaten 1349-1336
    Smenkhkare 1335-1333
    Tutankhamun 1333-1324


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  3. #2  
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    History is not all about kings and queens. Nonetheless, it would not be fair if we are not allowed to challenge the establishment in this field after so many Egyptologists spent so much time writing about the alleged murder of Tutankhamun and all those stuff for self-promotion.it seems that very few are interested in the real hard work.

    Taking Tentopet as an example. She is often described as the queen of Ramesses IV and a daughter of Ramesses III. Sometimes she is described as the queen of Ramesses X and a daughter of Ramesses IX. But why all the uncertainties? Because all we know is that she held the titles of King’s Daughter, King’s Wife and King’s Mother, and was buried in QV74. Is that a sufficient ground for placing her in the Twentieth Dynasty? I doubt it. She was dragged into that position simply because there was “vacancies available”. If you look at the map, her tomb was literally surrounded by the tombs from the 18th Dynasty and 19th Dynasty; the two tombs next to hers both belonged to the daughters of Ramesses II. Overall speaking, the QV tombs show a clear trend of clustering by dynasties and by kingships. It is hard to believe that the tomb of Ramesses III’s daughter would be left there while all the other daughters of Ramesses III were placed closed together in the west side of the valley. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that she couldn’t be married to a 20th Dynasty king; I am just saying that she must be the daughter of a 19th Dyansty king. Therefore, she cannot possibly be the daughter of either Ramesses III or Ramesses IX. As matter of fact, we don’t even know whether Ramesses X is related to Ramesses IX at all, nor do we know about his relation to Ramesses XI. We could place them under any branch of the Ramesses III super-family.

    I personally do not consider any of these late-20th Dynasty kings are important, but that doesn’t give one an excuse to come up with a spurious family tree to deceive the beginners. Now, is this a sign that the scholarship in Egyptology has fallen into a new low? We don’t need to sweep all the dirt under the carpet, do we?


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    Just to consider another possibility of accounting for the missing 12-year period. It was found that the highest attested year of Horemheb based on the wine jars labels in his tomb (KV57) was Year 14, according to Dr Jacobus van Dijk (University of Groningen). Thus, Horemheb might have died in late Year 14 or early Year 15, instead of Year 27/28 as the current low chronology gives him, and that would leave a 12-year period to be assigned to someone else. This could allow the unknown King's Daughter, whoever she might be, to rule by herself for 12 years. If that is the case, she is probably Maritaten. But we do not have a convincing evidence for her adopting the name of her mother Nefertiti. It is impossible if this happened while the latter was still alive! On the other hand, if Nefertiti died in Year 14 of Akhenaten and her age was well over 40, she must be much older than the king. In that case, she might be his step-mother since it has been proposed that Mitanni Princess Tadukhipa married to Amenhotep III, and then to Akhenaten. Unfortunately, this scenario looks unlikely since it would not allow Tutankhamun to die at the age of 18. I don't think it is very likely that Tutankhamun's age of death could be increased again after so much medical studies.

    The question of how to assign the 12-year period left by a shorter reign of Horemheb remains – that is the implication of Dr Jacobus van Dijk’s finding if it stands up to the test of time. The solution could come from the Flavius version of Manetho’s kinglist, where we find that Acencheres I & II each ruled for 12 years after Rathotis (Tutankhamun), followed by a 4-year reign of Harmais and a quarter of a year under Ramesses of the 19th Dynasty. In the Africanus version and the Busebius version, there are also three rulers between Rathotis and Ramesses, while the current kinglist only gets two. Could the current list miss a ruler?
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    There is a reason why there should be another ruler between Ay and Horemheb. We know that Ay was buried in WV23 and then desecrated in a later date. These two acts are unlikely to be carried out under the same ruler. If Horemheb was responsible for the latter act, there should be another king to allow Ay to be buried with honor. Who would this king be? It was probably Nakhtmin, whose tomb and mummy was never found. When Manetho named Acencheres I, Acencheres II and Harmais as the three kings between Rathotis and Ramesses, he suggests a kinship between the first two kings, which fits well with Ay and Nakhtmin, while Harmais might be the Graecized form of Horemheb. For this reason, the kinglist could be modified as the following:

    Akhenaten (17 y)
    [Neferneferuaten (12 y)]
    Smenkhkare (3 y)
    Tutankhamun (9 y)
    Ay I (? y)
    Ay II (Nakhtmin) (? y)
    Horemheb (Harmais) 14-15 y
    Ramesses I
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    I am updating for a recent publication by Zahi Hawass et al. regarding their DNA test. According to the paper, “Genetic fingerprinting allowed the construction of a 5-generation pedigree of Tutankhamun's immediate lineage. The KV55 mummy and KV35YL were identified as the parents of Tutankhamun.” (Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family, JAMA. 303:638-47.) If the results are correct, the implication is very profound. This means there is not enough evidence for a male Smenkhare, which was primarily based on the widely accepted assumption that the KV55 mummy belongs to Smenkhare, a brother of Tutankhamun. Now it seems that the KV55 mummy belongs to Akhenaten, his father. In that case, a male Smenkhare would simply vanish into the blue, and we are left with none other than Nefertiti herself to rule Egypt between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. There is no evidence to suggest that Meritaten ever adopted the name “Neferneferuaten”. Nefertiti might have ruled for 12 years if there was a coregency; otherwise it is hard to explain the number. Her title “king’s daughter” was simply based on the fact that she was the daughter of King Ay. My previous analysis has virtually ruled out the possibility that she was first married to Amenhotep III, which means she must have lived for a while after the death of Akhenaten to account for the mature age reflected by her bust. Although her shawabti – if that is what it is – suggests she might be dead, the contradictory evidences are overwhelming.
    In one word, both Neferneferuaten and Smenkhare are just other names of Nefertiti, she simply imitated Hatshepsut by assuming a male title and attire, and we all got confused. The real difficulty is not about this part of the chronology but the last part, after King Tut died. We need some evidence that Nakhtmin has become Ay II and ruled Egypt before he was overthrown by Horemheb.
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    There has also been a debate on Hypography with Modest, which has been occupied by the issue of how to interpret the Egyptian phrase “living forever and ever” on an alleged funeral statue of Nefertiti, which has been used by some to prove her death in Amarna period. Normally, the phrase “living forever and ever” is used as a good wish to the kings and queens in Egypt (e.g., the Hyme to Aten) and other cultures. I have not looked into every culture, but in my culture they made a clear distinction. Apparently, similar phrases have been used for the dead royalties. The presence of multiple phrases in hieroglyphs already suggests some fine distinctions, so did the reference given by Modest despite certain ambiguity caused by the phrasing (“the same”). Only one case (no. 319) could be clearly identified as the deceased since the rest all refers to no. 317, which is similar to no. 316 except the separated ankh, an example associated with the living kings and queens. This is the debate about how to interpret the words. It has minimal implication in establishing the time of Nefertiti’s death, unless you want to argue that Ay also died in Amarna because of his tomb there.

    The real issue is the finding by Zahi Hawass that the KV55 mummy and KV35YL were identified as the parents of Tutankhamun. KV35YL is Kiya while KV55 must be Akhenaten instead of Smenkhkare. It was also suggested that the parents of Tutankhamun are siblings, indicating the possibility of Kiya as a child of Amenhotep III. Hence, the strongest evidence for a male king Smenkhkare has vanished without a trace. What is left are just a few names: Ankhkheprure-Neferneferuaten, Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, Nefertiti, etc. All these names would have been considered as one and the same person were it not for the identification of the KV55 mummy as Smenkhkare. James Thompson pointed out that Nefertiti also functioned as a king by making offering to the gods, being depicted in the scene of “smiting the enemies” and occasionally waring the Atef crown. In the last instance he was probably referring to a statue of the couple holding hands with questionable authenticity. So she could be a coregent with Akhenaten. If the coregency started from Year 5 of Akhenaten, it lasted for 12 years until the death of Akhenaten. But this is not the reason why I think she survived Akhenaten; it was because of the following two statues: her Berlin bust indicates a lady over forty years of age while her full length statue (also from Berlin) suggests a lady in her fifties. I only saw the frontal view of the later in recent days. She probably survived his father king Ay. It seems the king “Acencheres” in Manetho’s list (Flavius version) refers to her, while “Acencheres I” and “Acencheres II” refers to her father Ay and her brother Nakhtmin. All these make sense. it makes no sense if Acencheres refers to Meritaten - which would become a necessity in the case of the assumed death of Nefertiti in Year 14 - since Meritaten is not a member of the Ay family.



    The other critical issue is the finding by Dr Jacobus van Dijk of Horemheb’s death in Year 14 or 15 instead of year 27 or 28. It seems that all the 12 years space created could be nicely filled in by Acencheres II (Ay II), possibly with an iron lady Nefertiti behind the scene. If she died at the end of this 12-year reign of Acencheres II, she would be in her fifties (Akhenaten would have been 58 if he had been alive). My interpretation is that her death caused the eruption of the hatred between Ay II and Horemheb since the later probably considered himself as the legitimate ruler after Tutankhamun. The situation spun out of control, a coup took place even before the burial of Nefertiti, Ay II was probably killed in the coup, thus neither Ay II or Nefertiti got their mummification completed. But the cause of the Ay family was not all lost since the celebrated Queen Nefertari of Ramesses II was a member of the Ay family as Ay’s cartouche was found in her tomb. I guess she was Nefertiti’s granddaughter; even her name resembled that of Nefertiti. This would explain why the statues of Horemheb were beheaded, and his tomb desecrated.


    The kinglist created before the benefit of the paper of Hawass just needs a minor modification by deleting Smenkhkare:

    Akhenaten (Orus) 17 y
    Neferneferuaten (Acencheres) (12 y)
    Tutankhamun (Rathodis) 9 y
    Ay I (Acencheres I) 7 y
    Ay II (Acencheres II/Nakhtmin) 12 y
    Horemheb (Harmais) 14-15 y




    This list matches up completely with the Manetho’s list in term of the kings. Manetho is probably not so much off the mark, after all. I believe that the theory above provides a reasonably coherent explanation of all the critical events. To prove this theory, we need to find some evidence of Nakhtmin becoming the pharaoh. On the other hand, we cannot expect to find the mummies of Nakhtmin and Nefertiti.
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  8. #7  
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    The proposed chronology:
    Akhen-aten (Nefer-kheperu-re/Amenhotep IV/Amenophis IV/Orus) 1353-1335 BC [KV55]
    Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten (Nefertiti/ Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti/Smenkh-ka-re/Acencheres) 1348-1335 BC
    Tut-ankh-amun (Heqa-iunu-shema/Neb-kheperu-re/Rathotis) 1335-1326 BC [KV62]
    Ay I (Ay/It-Nejer/Kheper-kheperu-re/Acencheres I) 1326-1319 BC [WV23]
    Ay II (Nakhtmin/Acencheres II) 1319-1307 BC*
    Hor-em-heb (Mery-amun/Djeser-kheperu-re Setep-en-re/Harmais) 1307-1292 BC [KV57]
    * Ay II remains hypothetical.
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    The alleged king Smekhkare has disappeared of due to the DNA work. I know some still insists that the mummy in KV55 is Smekhkare, not Akhenaten. Someone has offered a genetic analysis to demonstrate that this is virtually impossible. The comments in [] are mine.
    For the moment we must assume that the DNA is correct. This shows that Amenhotep III could not have been Tutankhamun’s father. In two of the 8 markers the former has neither of marker alleles found in Tutankhamun. [correct]
    So what if we assume that Tutankhamun’s (abbrev. to T) father was Akhenaten?
    The DNA data gives a full match for T’s father/mother being KV55/KV35L. True this “only” shows a relationship, but it shows that KV55 was as closely related to T as T’s own father. So the simplest solution is that KV55=Akhenaten. [correct]
    I have done some “back-of-the-envelope” Mendelian calculations on the possibility that another son of Amenhotep III and Tiye could have actually been T’s father, which would allow the attribution of KV55 to Smekhkare and Akhenaten to the other brother (B2) who was actually T’s father.
    I examined two possibilities:
    1. That B2 (not KV55) was married to KV35YL and that they were T’s parents – but there was only a probability of 1.3% of another brother fulfilling this condition. [should be 2.3%]
    2. That we make no assumption about B2’s wife, only that B2 was the father of T. This had a probability of 8.7%, but each candidate B2 would impose restrictions on the genotype of his possible wives. This would doubtless reduce the probability. The relationships in the known tree are so tight that I would be surprised if we didn’t again need a sister to fulfill the restrictions on the wife’s genotype in these cases as well. So we would have 2 brothers and 2 sisters who could pair off with each other so either pair could have been the parents of Tutankhamun.
    Sorry this is confusing, but my impression is that unless the data is wrong, KV55=Akhenaten looks a pretty good bet (although anything is possible).
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