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Dr. Aurore Ciavatti

Research Interests:

Egyptian Old Kingdom Chronology (chronographical and epigraphical sources, dating criteria); Egyptian Calendars and Religious Feasts (time, ritual and actors); Egyptian Administrative Archives; Egyptian Old Kingdom Administration (institutions, economy, work organization).


Aurore Ciavatti was a researcher at the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) and collaborates on several excavations in Egypt. She received her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the Sorbonne University in 2018 and taught there at the Institute of Art History and Archaeology. As part of the Meryt Project (ANR-19-CE27-0010), she carried out a thorough reassessment of the attested dates of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. She is currently investigating the system of timekeeping during the Old Kingdom and how this system was synchronized with other normative practices (i.e., weights, measures, and labor organization) in order to extend the control of royal power.

Project Abstract

"Time to Set the Record Straight": Synchronizing Time and Power in Egyptian Old Kingdom

To establish calendars means to impose a rhythm on a human group in order to regulate and control it religiously, socially, and politically. In this respect, the timekeeping systems of ancient Egypt are no exception. During the Old Kingdom, we observe two simultaneous systems. The "civil calendar" adds days and months within a single year. The supra-annual time is measured according to a device specific to this period, based on two references: the reigning king himself and the "census of all cattle". The king's name as a link to taxation confirms that the measurement of time is indeed instrumentalized by the royal authority as a practice of power.

Even if this is semiologically evident, the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain for the time being. In recent decades, an intense debate has revolved around the identification of a synchronicity regulating the alternation of census and post-census years. More recently, new thinking about lunar and lunisolar parapegmata has opened a new field of investigation, but always based on unverified chronometric data.

Based on a thorough reassessment of the attested dates of the Old Kingdom, my project aims to rethink the synchronicity regulating the alternation of census and post-census years in coordination with the original lunar calendar, the pseudo-solar annus vagus of the "civil year", as well as the stellar and flood cycles. 

This study of the emergence and evolution of year-counts and calendars will highlight their synchronization with other reforms concerning practices of social cohesion (i.e., weights, measures and organization of work), allowing the expansion of the state's control over its territory and its population. Focusing on the perception of time from this perspective could therefore offer a new socio-historical approach to questioning the periodization of the Old Kingdom.

Curriculum vitae


EC-Chronoi Fellow


Director of the study mission Masons' Marks of the Pyramid of Snefru in Maidum.


Post-doctoral Researcher, IFAO, Meryt Project (ANR-19-CE27-0010).

Since 2021 

Area Supervisor, Wadi Sannur archaeological excavation.

Since 2018

Associate Researcher, CNRS UMR 8167.


Assistant Professor qualification, by the french Ministry of Research and Education.


Lecturer (full time) in Egyptology, Sorbonne University.


Valvasor Award, National Museums of Slovenia.


Co-author of the exhibition "Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia", in Ljubljana, Slovenia (10/10/2019 – 24/05/2020).


PhD in Egyptology, Sorbonne University ("La fin de la Ve dynastie au regard des archives d'Abousir“. Summa cum Laude). 


Louis de Clercq Foundation Award, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.

Since 2012

Area Supervisor, Wadi Jarf archaeological excavation. 

Selected Publications

In Press. "De Giza à la mer Rouge : une équipe d'ouvriers du règne de Khoufou au ouadi Sannour." BIFAO 123.

2022. "Le règne de Snéfrou: nouvelle analyse des sources chronologiques." BIFAO 122, 107-154.

2021. "Rdw ‘ ḥr sštȝ…’: Nouvelle lecture des décrets royaux du temple funéraire de Rêneferef." In Les Archives Administratives de l’Ancien Empire, Orient & Méditerranée 37, edited by Philippe Collombert and Pierre Tallet, 55-68. Leuven: Peeters Publisher.

2019. "L'octaétéride et la chronologie de l'Ancien Empire: prolégomènes." BSFE 202, 8-18.

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