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Manetho, Egyptian historian (about 305-285 BC)

The Aegyptiaca, written by the Egyptian priest and historian Manetho, forms the basis for the division of Egyptian history into dynasties. Little is known about Manetho, but he served as a priest in the temples at Sebennytos and Heliopolis during the reigns of Ptolemy I Soter and Ptolemy II. His dedication of his historical work to the latter king suggests that it was compiled in the first half of the third century BC.

As a priest, Manetho had access to temple libraries containing lists of kings and many other types of documents. Despite his diligence, the Aegyptiaca contains mistakes, not all of which can be attributed to later copying errors and revisions. In some cases the names and sequences of kings do not match the evidence from monuments, and he made no allowance for contemporary dynasties or co-regencies.

Unfortunately, the Aegyptiaca has not survived intact, but fragments are preserved in the works of later historians. Excerpts appear in the work of Josephus, a Jewish historian writing in the first century AD. Sections of an abridged version, consisting of lists of dynasties with notes on important kings and events, were also used by the Christian chroniclers Africanus and Josephus in the third and fourth centuries AD.

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