March 25, 2012

The Royal Canon of Turin | Egyptian Chronology

Egyptian chronology : The Royal Canon of Turin
The finest record of the chronology of the Egyptian kings is unfortunately the most damaged and now incomplete. It is a papyrus known as the Royal Canon of Turin, in which museum it is to be found. Originally the property of the king of Sardinia, tragically, it was badly packed and severely damaged during transportation. The list of the kings, originally over 300 of them, is written in a fine literate hand in the hieratic script on the back of a long Ramesside papyrus which has accounts on the front, or recto side. This dates it to having been written about 1200 BC. Like the scraps remaining from Manetho, and the first line of the Palermo Stone, it begins with dynasties of gods which are followed by those of earthly kings. A useful aspect is that it gives the exact lengths of each reign in years and even months and days. Its condition is such that piecing the fragments together is like solving a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing, so that what would have been the premier source for Egyptian chronology is an epigraphist's nightmare.

Seti I and his young son, the future Ramesses II, worship the cartouched names of their ancestors in the Hall of Ancestors or Records in the temple of Abydos. Unacceptable ancestors such as Queen Hatshepsut and the 'Amarna' pharaohs (pp. 120-39) are conveniently omitted from the list.

The Maladjusted Calendar
The discrepancy between the Egyptian civil year of 365 days and the true year of 365% days led to some curious anomalies. One inscription from the reign of Amenemhet III (1842-1797 BC) records a visit by the king’s treasurer Harurre to Serabit el-Khadim, in Sinai, to extract turquoise ore in the third month of what was, according to the civil calendar, winter. However, the actual weather conditions prevailing were those of high summer because the calendar was some seven months out, and Harurre records how he and his men suffered badly from ‘the mountains that brand the skin’ with the very great heat.

As a Ramesside papyrus records in the 13th century BC, ‘Winter is come in Summer, the months are reversed, the hours in confusion’.

Turin King List

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