April 6, 1964
Dear Dr. Ralph:
Your kind letter of March 5 made it clear to me that we need to subtract from the date 1030 + 50 B.C., or resp. 1120 + 52 B.C., not only the years that have passed from the day the trees were cut to the day they were used for the tomb but, what is even more significant, also the years from the formation of the rings in the examined samples till the cutting of the trees. In the case of Lebanese cedar, famous for its longevity, no saplings would have been cut for export.
More tests on suitable objects from the New Kingdom are needed, preferably hide, mummy, grain, papyrus, or linen. How good it would be if the Cairo Museum would agree to sacrifice a little piece of the mummy of Ramses III: it is a dream, but it could solve fundamental questions in Egyptian chronology . . .
A correspondent from overseas drew my attention to a paper by II. S. Smith in Antiquity (vol. 38, March 1964, pp. 32-37) in which the author-Egyptologist underlines the agreement between the radio-carbon and the historical dates back to 2000 B.C.. and the generally satisfactory sequence of dates before that. . , It was printed about the time you let me have the results of Tutenkhamons test.
In an earlier issue (vol. 37, 1963, pp. 213-219) Antiquity reprinted Libbys article in Science (April 19, 1963). Libby claimed agreement in historical and carbon dates for the New and Late Kingdoms, a period of over twelve hundred years, on the basis of one single test, that of Setis wood; you have, however, in your report counted with the possibility that the wood had been re-used by Seti; even so, there was some disagreement between the carbon and the accepted dates; to it comes also the element of incertitude connected with the age of the tree-rings.
Libby counted with the possibility that the whole historical Egyptian chronology is interlocking and subject to possible systematic errors.
The statement by Smith creates the impression that the radiocarbon analysis decided for the accepted dates, especially for the period under discussion in my work of reconstruction (Ages in Chaos), namely (in conventional chronology) from 1580 (or even 1680) to 330 before the present era, and that, therefore, my work is proven wrong. Under those circumstances I, of course, am desirous to see the result of the test on Tutenkhamons wood made known.
May I inquire for when is the publication of the result planned? Would you possibly consider communicating it to Science before it is printed in the American Journal of Science (Radiocarbon)
Very cordially, Immanuel Velikovsky