I would like to know more about this little news item: a seal of the Babylonian king Hammurabi, found in Egypt. The seal itself is not what intrigues me, it is the reference to a similar seal, which has been discovered (at an unspecified moment) in the tomb of the Egyptian king Khayan.
I am always interested when disciplines interact, but this may turn out to be truly special – at least, if the statement is correct that the Hyksos ruler Khayan was king of Egypt from 1653 to 1614 BCE. (I am not an Egyptologist, and the last time I ventured into the Hyksos age, many dates were still in doubt.)
But if we assume that Khayan’s regnal dates are correct, then we may finally come within reach of the solution of the main chronological problem of Babylonian history, where four chronological systems are possible. According to these, Hammurabi’s reign can be dated to 1848-1806 (“high chronology”), 1792-1750 (“middle chronology”), 1728-1686 (“low chronology”), and 1696-1654 (“ultra-low chronology”).
Now this seal must have been attached to a document or an object sent from Babylonia to Egypt. I do not know how long correspondence was kept in ancient archives, but if the Amarna Letters are a valid comparison, we must think of no more than thirty years. Calculating wildly, I’d say that the year 1653+30=1683 BCE ought to be within the series of regnal years of Hammurabi, which brings us to the ultra-low, or possibly the low chronology.
Again, I am not a specialist, and I may be completely wrong. For the time being, I will cling to the conventional “middle chronology”. Yet, about one thing we can be certain: ancient historians ought to be interested in all ancient cultures. They never have access to sufficient sources to solve even the most basic problems, like the chronology of second millennium Mesopotamia, so they cannot afford to become specialists, studying only one civilization.