Koch Pyramids Radiocarbon Project now has us thinking about forest ecologies, site formation processes, and ancient industry and its environmental impact--in sum, the society and economy that left the Egyptian pyramids as hallmarks for all later humanity. Koch Pyramids Radiocarbon Project is a collaborative effort of Shawki Nakhla and Zahi Hawass, The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities; Georges Bonani and Willy Wölfli, Institüt für Mittelenergiephysik, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule; Herbert Haas, Desert Research Institute; Mark Lehner, The Oriental Institute and the Harvard Semitic Museum; Robert Wenke, University of Washington; John Nolan, University of Chicago; and Wilma Wetterstrom, Harvard Botanical Museum.The project is administered by Ancient Egypt Research Associates, Inc.Three of the eight dates from samples taken here are almost direct hits on Menkaure's historical dates, 2532- 2504 B. The other five, however, range from 350 to 100 years older.Our radiocarbon dates from the site suggest that, like those from the pyramids, the dates on charcoal from the settlement scatter widely in time with many dates older than the historical estimate.That's the finding of the West Turkana Archaeological Project (WTAP) team -- co-led by Stony Brook University's Drs.Sonia Harmand and Jason Lewis -- who have found the earliest stone artifacts, dating to 3.3 million years ago, at a site named Lomekwi 3 on the western shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.The 1984 results left us with too little data to conclude that the historical chronology of the Old Kingdom was in error by nearly 400 years, but we considered this at least a possibility. During 1995 samples were collected from the Dynasty 1 tombs at Saqqara to the Djoser pyramid, the Giza Pyramids, and a selection of Dynasty 5 and 6 and Middle Kingdom pyramids.
For Khufu, they scatter over a range of about 400 years.
Ancient Egypt's population was compressed in the narrow confines of the Nile Valley with a tree cover, we assumed, that was sparse compared to less arid lands.
We expected that by the pyramid age the Egyptians had been intensively exploiting wood for fuel for a long time and that old trees had been harvested long before.
Archaeologists believe it is the work of the Old Kingdom Dynasty 4 society that rose to prominence in the Nile Valley from ca. In dealing with the 374-year discrepancy, we had to consider the old wood problem.
In 1984 we thought it was unlikely that the pyramid builders consistently used centuries-old Egyptian wood as fuel in preparing mortar.