manetho's dynasties

Manetho wrote the King Lists for Ptolemy I (305 - 282 BC). Assuming a starting date at the beginning of this period (305 BC) and working backwards, an approximate date of 5341 BC for Menes can be arrived at by averaging Africanus' and Eusebius' stated time periods for the Pharonic dynasties. In our calculations, we cannot count the obvious double up of 151 years on the Hyksos rule in XVIIth Dynasty which could be attributed to a scribal error. This dating for Menes also places Khufu's reign to 5543 - 4477 BC, during which time the great alignment of the major celestial planes and Betelgeuse occurred, information which was encoded in his pyramid. This time period fits in with the popular notion of erosion that dates the Sphinx to between 5,000 - 7,000 BC (approximately).

sitaddaluA point of archaeoastronomical interest is Manetho's referral to the Hyksos as Shepherd Kings. The Babylonians knew Orion as Sitaddalu, the Great Shepherd, thus identifying the Hyksos as Babylonian in origin. The greatness of Babylon during Hammurabi's time has already been related to the Second Intermediate Period of Egyptian history by historians. However, the time frame would have to be pushed back to a period coinciding with Shepherd King rule, as stated by Manetho, to approximately to 2589 - 1636 BC.

The legendary period of the gods and demi-gods, as listed by Manetho totals 12,843 years, is very close to one half of a precessional cycle and only 39 years off the mark of 25, 725 years. It is also interesting to note that the length of the demi-gods' reign, divided by 12 produces the precessional rate of movement of 71.5 years per degree. This may account why a figure 39 years short of the true precessional cycle was chosen. Thus it might be said that these ages cited not only represent general information about the nature of the precession by which ages could be dated, but also which reflected stellar patterns in the different ages before Egypt was united under Menes. The general information relayed in the reign of the gods would have been simple, visual and important to those early inhabitants whose descendants were the Egyptians. Taking the starting point of 5341 BC, the following Ages and datings are produced:

The Age of Ptah

It was during Ptah's reign that man was molded into his current form, certainly reflecting the truth of the matter when the first races of man emerged around 10,000 BC. As the Greek god Hephaistos is related to the Roman god Vulcan, both of whom were associated with destructive fire and volcanoes, it can be seen that this period representinig the birth of the world was one very similar to that described by modern science. Whilst the earth's beginnings are much more ancient than 18,000 BC, the time figure quoted for Ptah's reign reflected time beyond memory for early civilised man. Their concept of the earth's nature was essentially correct, although the time frame was not, understandably due to lack of knowledge. This period may also have represented the memory of the unstable geological area in the Great Rift Valley from whence the ancestors of the Old Kingdom emanated.

As Ptah's reign extended 9,000 years according to Manetho, a number of different constellations would have occupied that all important heliacal position at the spring equinox. The most important position of Ptah would have been when he gained ascendancy at the start of his reign in 18,184 BC. At this time, the magnificent constellation of Scorpio rose heliacally then and must be associated with Ptah. Such an association also adds strength and unity to the legends of the "Scorpion King." In fact, Scorpio may have been chosen as a symbolism for Egyptian power by its early Pharaohs because it largely symbolises the course of the Nile through Egypt, with the head of Scorpio representing the Delta region. The astrological symbolism of Scorpio is one of power, life, death and rebirth, and so this constellation is appropriately associated with this time period.

The Age of Re

During Re's reign, we have the end of the last Ice Age, so it is quite appropriate to assign Re's rulership to this period. To those inhabitants dwelling on earth during this time, the Sun's apparent power increased, reflecting the magnified power of their sun god, Re. It was during this era that the vernal point of the northern spring equinox was in Leo, eventually giving rise to the astrological rulership of Leo by the Sun.

The Age of Shu

It was during the reign of Shu that, according to legend, Egyptian records were first kept. It was also during this time that the closest star to the North celestial Pole was that constellation associated with Shu, the modern Hercules. In fact, Shu's constellation dominated the circumpolar region as it tightly rotated around the north celestial pole, even though Shu was no longer entirely circumpolar. It is also important that Shu culminated at dawn during the summer solstice during this era. Shu's Age gave birth to civilisation as man in the warmer regions entered the Neolithic Age. This was the age of the Atlanteans or, the ideal age, as indicated by the Greek name given to this period. It was the Age of the "Good Spirit".

The Age of Geb

Geb's reign brought the recognition of Saturn at a time when Saturn was closely conjunct Jupiter in Capricorn, so this dating is very precise. In fact, this conjunction which occurs once every 20.6 years and sometimes produces the fabled "Star of Bethlehem" when the conjunction is also exact by declination, was associated with kingship in Egypt and Israel. Its conjunction cycle also represents the value of inches per cubit, and the approximate value of two decans, a measurement reflected within the structure of the Great Pyramid.

Geb was associated with Kronos by Plutarch. The Romans themselves considered Saturn to be an imported god, and some associated him with the Greek Kronos. The god Saturn was named from the Latin word "satus" past participle of "serere", meaning "sow", and it is thus interesting that this conjunction and discovery of Saturn-Geb occurred during Akhet, the Egyptian season of sowing and Inundation. It can also been seen why Jupiter is thus associated with Nut. Geb married her against the will of Re and produced five children related to the residual five days at the end of the synodic year. This period may thus have given birth to an awareness of the epagomenal days and, certainly, a Sothic cycle association exists during this particular period, supporting this possibility.

The Age of Osiris and Isis

It was during the Age of Osiris and Isis that, at the northern summer solstice dawn, Osiris' constellation, Orion, was culminating to the south, with Isis-Sirius at his right hand. As the summer solstice is the time when the ancient Egyptians celebrated their New Year and Osiris was Lord of the Inundation, this visual association of Sirius and Orion with Manetho's dating is quite appropriate. It is also in this position only, and not its heliacal position, that Isis' star Sirius can be seen adjacent to Osiris at a prominent time during an important time of the year. This is an significant consideration when such emphasis has been placed on the Osiris-Isis partnership. In support of these associations, it can be said that Maspero stated it was Sirius and not its heliacal rising which was referred to in Pyramid times.

It was during the Age of Osiris and Isis, and subsequent ones that the solar light of dawn at the spring equinox began to seriously encroach upon Orion. Thus the battle began with Seth (Sagittarius) who brought on an age of darkness and civil war. It was during the Age of Seth that the archer, Sagittarius, was prominent in the eastern skies before dawn at the autumn equinox, whilst Orion-Osiris was not completely visible at the spring dawn. It was also during this age that Anubis (Canis Major) stood on the western horizon at sunrise of the Autumn equinox, promoting the association of Anubis, the recumbent dog-jackal, and the western horizon with death.

The Age of Horus

During the Age of Horus, his constellation assumed importance at the northern spring equinox as it rose in the east before dawn. His constellation was a combination of the modern Taurus and Auriga, resembling a great falcon, with whom he was associated.

These findings are the original work of Alison Moroney and were first published on the internet on 8th November 2001. Astronomical drawing generated by Skychart III.

Copyright Alison Moroney, 1999