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May 14th, 1975

Mr. G. B. Morris
The British Museum
London WC1B 3DG

Dear Mr. Morris,

Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to answer my letter about radiocarbon dating of putative XVIIIth Dynasty material. Are you not, however, begging the question rather than resolving it? As I understand it, Tutankhamun’s tomb had never been disturbed, by robbers or anyone, until it was discovered; presumably all the precious contents were most carefully catalogued. Surely, then, you either knew or you did not know, already, whether those palm kernels (etc.) came from the tomb; the question of their origin - if it was really in doubt - quite obviously could not be resolved by dating. Contemporaneity would be the utmost that radiocarbon dating — or any other method, indeed — could possibly prove.

I suggest that there were no serious doubts about the origin of the material UNTIL the results of radiocarbon dating.

One can only suppose that so much painstaking scholarship and so many reputations are bound up with accepted ancient Egyptian chronology that the archeological Establishment will go to almost any lengths to preserve it intact; anything that doesn’t fit — palm kernels or whatever — is quickly jettisoned.

But what about those chips of Cedar-of-Lebanon from Tutankhamun’s casket? As you are no doubt aware, radiocarbon dating showed that the wood could not have started to grow as a sapling for at least two centuries after Tutankhamun’s death. On the other hand, if Tutankharnun actually died about 850 B.C. — and was buried with the palm kernels —, the Cedar-of-Lebanon used for his casket could easily have been two centuries old or more at that time.

I’m afraid I still think suppression is rife in this field, but the truth cannot be suppressed indefinitely.


Yours faithfully,


J. D. H. Iles, M. D.