News Release

New analysis on problems between archaeology and pharaonic chronology, based on radiocarbon dating

Article by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev professor published in Science magazine

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL June 17, 2010 -- In a just published article in Science magazine (June 18, 2010), Prof. Hendrik J. Bruins of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev presents novel implications related to new developments in the radiocarbon dating of Pharaonic Egypt.

The article reports that, for the first time, it is possible to relate the Minoan Santorini eruption with Egyptian Historical Chronology solely on the basis of radiocarbon dates. Thus, it appears that the eruption preceded the 18th Dynasty and occurred during the Hyksos Period. Moreover, conventional association of Egyptian history with archaeological phases at Tell el-Dab'a, the ancient capital of the Hyksos, located in the northeastern region of the Nile delta, do not fit in terms of radiocarbon dating.

Bruins is a researcher in the University's Department of Man in the Desert at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and is affiliated with the Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. His research focuses on the 2nd millennium B.C.

"Major problems exist here in relation to the Santorini eruption between archaeological dating, radiocarbon dating and association between archaeological strata in the field and Egyptian Historical Chronology," said Bruins.

In 2006, Bruins received the Dutch Royal Award – Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau – in the name of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix for achievements in policy-oriented studies on drought, hazard assessment and contingency planning in drylands, geo-archaeological desert research and innovative chronological studies about the ancient Near East.

He first came to Ben-Gurion University in 1976 as an instructor in the Department of Geography, then worked in the early 1980s for the Israel Antiquities Authority in the framework of the Negev Emergency Archaeological Survey. Bruins developed novel geo-archaeological research techniques, pioneered excavations in ancient agricultural terraces in the Negev highlands and discovered extensive tsunami deposits in Crete (Palaikastro), related to the Minoan Santorini eruption.

He also carried out research at the Ein el-Qudeirat oasis of northeastern Sinai, associated by some scholars with biblical Kadesh-Barnea. There, he became aware of the vital need to measure time in both archaeological and environmental studies with the same methodology: radiocarbon dating. This was the beginning of innovative research in cooperation with one of the best radiocarbon labs in the world situated at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Several major archaeological sites in Israel are currently under investigation, as well as rural desert sites in the Negev.


For more information, contact Prof. Hendrik Bruins,; office: 972-8-6596863; cell: 972-52-3930392

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit

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