Monday, August 24, 2009

Using Scarabs to Build Chronologies

As I have mentioned several times in the past, I am not a big fan of using scarab styles and decorations to reconstruct the history of Egypt's Second Intermediate Period. My concerns are based on:

1) Style and decoration are very subjective criteria to use
2) It has been done several times in the past and none of the scholars involved agree with each other (Stock and Ward among others). This is probably caused by #1.

The reason I raise this issue is that another scholar has tried to construct a sequence of Kings for the the Second Intermediate Period based in large part on scarabs. Dr. K. Ryholt has proposed that Mayibre Sheshi be put into the Fourteenth Dynasty (rather than the Fifteenth as most scholars place him) and bases this, in part on the style and decoration of Sheshi's scarabs.

Dr. Ryholt's arguments are plausible and cannot be easily refuted, but as long as they are based on scarab seriation, I am going to be a little sceptical. Hopefully more evidence will be found in the future to decide this one way or the other. In the meantime, interested readers should check the sources listed below to follow the arguments being made.

Ryholt, K. The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 1997.

Stock, H. Studien zur Geschichte und Archaeologie der 13 bis 17 Dynastie Aegyptens, unter besonderer Beruecksichtigung der Skarabaen dieser Zwischenzeit (AF 12, Gluckstadt 1942).

Tufnell, Olga. Studies on Scarab Seals II, Warminster, 1984.

Ward, W. Studies on Scarab Seals, I, Warmister: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1978.

No comments:

Post a Comment