October 7, 1953
W. F. Libby
Institute for Nuclear Studies
University of Chicago
Dear Professor Libby:
In my work Ages in Chaos (Doubleday) I present a reconstruction of ancient chronology from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt to the advent of Alexander. I place the end of the Middle Kingdom in ca. -1500 (instead of conventional -1680): the time of the Hyksos from -1500 to ca. -1040 (instead of-1680 to-1580): the New Kingdom from then on. Accordingly the dates of the Middle Kingdom are reduced by about 200 years; and those of the Eighteenth Dynasty by ca. 500 years: the dates of the Nineteenth Dynasty by 650 years; and of Twentieth Dynasty by over 700 years. The Hittite Empire, contemporary with the Nineteenth Dynasty, is also reduced by almost 700 years.
In your radio-carbon analysis, Alisar III is reduced by 800 years which is very close to my dating. I also assume that if analyses of organic objects dating from the time of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, III, or Akhnaton were made, the results will indicate a reduction by as much as 500 years from the conventional figures; and over 650 years for objects of Seti or Ramses II or Marneptah.
Ages in Chaos was repeatedly read by Prof. Robert H. Pfeiffer, Head of the Department of Ancient History at Harvard University, beginning with its first draft in 1942 to its final form, and he always gave me his encouragement. The first volume was published in 1952, covering the time from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the end of the 18th Dynasty (Akhnaton). Prof. E. Drioton, the renowned Egyptologist (Director of Louvre Egypt. Dept.) wrote me that in his opinion the chronology of Egypt and the ancient East will need a drastic revision in the light of my work. A copy of my book will reach you in a few days, and I like to hope that you will find time to look into it. The second volume is set, however not yet published.
At present I work on geological chronology and I anticipate that some of fossils ascribed to the Pleistocene Age will be found, like the roots associated with Pleistocene mammals of Tepexpan, in sediments only 3500 years old. However, I wonder whether the supplanting of organic carbon by lime carbon in fossil hones allows their radioactive dating.
Finally, I would suggest a radio-carbon analysis of petroleum; if it is of organic origin, as generally assumed, and if some oil deposits are of a relatively recent dating, radio-carbon analysis may produce some unexpected results.Very sincerely,