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Dating the Dead: Chronology and Context at Saqqara's Sacred Animal Necropolis

This is an ambitious project and will to draw together a diverse range of dating and other evidence, thereby filling a gap in our understanding of the development of the animal cults and transforming understanding of them as a vital but hitherto under-researched aspect of ancient society and economy.


For the first time a single project will integrate data collected over many years by those who have worked at, or visited, what is now known as the Sacred Animal Necropolis at Saqqara. By integrating the chronological evidence from previous exploration of the site, including published and archived material by the PI and targeted radiocarbon dating and the use of Bayesian statistical analysis a more detailed and reliable chronology for the animal cults at will be developed.

The novel methodology developed will be made available for others to use so that in future we have a much better and more robust understanding of the development of animal necropoli in Egypt. This new chronology will revolutionise our understanding of the relationships between the catacombs/cults at Saqqara and allow a more complete understanding of their role within society.

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust.

Principal investigator

Picture of Paul Nicholson

Professor Paul Nicholson

Professor in Archaeology, Director of Recruitment and Admissions

+44 29208 74582