High-precision dendro-14C dating of two cedar wood sequences from First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom Egypt and a small regional climate-related 14C divergence

Sturt W. Manning, Michael W. Dee, Eva M. Wild, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Kathryn Bandy, Pearce Paul Creasman, Carol B. Griggs, Charlotte L. Pearson, Andrew J. Shortland, Peter Steier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Cedar (Cedrus sp.) wood from two archaeological contexts in Egypt - (i) the First Intermediate Period coffin of Ipi-ha-ishutef, (ii) a funerary boat at the pyramid of Middle Kingdom king Senusret (or Sesostris or Senwosret) III - form floating tree-ring sequences. Since one of the sample sets had been mounted with Elmer's glue products in core-mounts for dendrochronological examination, we investigate whether pretreatment can remove this potential contaminant before 14C dating. We find that even in (unrealistic) cases of extensive glue contamination this can be largely/successfully removed - making it likely that the samples in this study, where, moreover, only wood samples without traces of glue were employed, can provide accurate 14C dates. Dendro-14C-wiggle-matching was then employed to provide precise calendar dates for the two tree-ring sequences. The last extant ring of the Ipi-ha-ishutef coffin lies ca. 2081-2064BC (95.4% probability), supporting, but refining, its assumed date. In the case of the Senusret III boat, we find a temporary, small, but important offset within the period ca. 2200-1900BC in contemporary 14C ages between the Levant and central and northern Europe. It is suggested this is likely a result of exaggeration of normal seasonal variations in the uptake of 14C and its latitudinal distribution caused by climate change in the 2200-1900BC/4200-3900Cal BP (y2k) interval. A date for the last extant ring of the Senusret III boat is probably around 1898/95-1879/76BC (95.4% probability) - more consistent with a high Middle Kingdom Egyptian chronology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-416
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Cedar
  • Climate change
  • Dahshur boats
  • Dendrochronology
  • Egyptian chronology
  • Ipi-ha-ishutef
  • Radiocarbon-wiggle-matching
  • Senusret III
  • Senwosret III
  • Sesostris III

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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