One of the problems facing archaeologists in the late 19th century was how to date their findings. Heinrich Schliemann, for example, could provide a relative chronology for the seven successive 'cities' he uncovered at Troy (the one below is older than the one above it), but he had no means of dating them; he couldn't say with any certainty at what time in history each city had existed. In fact, there were vehement disputes between 1880 and 1890 about the dating of Schliemann's finds at Mycenae.
The problem of dating was solved in an article by the British archaeologist and Egyptologist Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), "The Egyptian Bases of Greek History" in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, 11 (1890): 271–277), which established an absolute chronology of the Greek civilization on an Egyptian basis. At Kahun, in the Fayum, and elsewhere in Egypt Petrie had found Mycenaean vases together with Egyptian objects which could be dated to a period spanning the reigns of two Egyptian rulers, from Amenophis III to Rameses VI, whose dates were otherwise known (1400-1050 BCE).
The dating of Egyptian finds is largely accomplished through reference to the reigning pharaoh. A chronology of the order of succession of Egyptian pharaohs has been more or less established using "king lists" which were compiled mostly in the period of the New Kingdom. One of the most important was written on papyrus during the reign of Ramesses II (19th Dynasty; 1279Ð1213 BCE) and is now in the Turin Museum. The Turin Papyrus provides not only the order of succession but the length of reign, though the latter especially often seems fantastical. While a workable relative chronology can be established, an absolute chronology, the actual dates of a pharaoh's reign, remains imprecise.
However, disagreements remain among scholars regarding Egyptian Chronology.
The excavations of Arthur Evans at Knossos showed that the site was not Mycenaean but part of separate civilization that existed on Crete during the Bronze Age. Among the evidence for this was pottery, especially the type known as Kamares ware, with its rich polychrome decoration on a dark ground, which was clearly not Mycenaean. As the stratification of the palace sites became known (example of archaeological stratigraphy), Evans used pottery and pottery styles to plot the whole history of the Bronze Age on Crete. He identified three main phases - Early, Middle, Late - each of which was split into three numbered sub-divisions. This system became the basis for dating the whole Bronze Age Aegean.
To this relative chronology, Evans was able to attach an absolute chronology using correspondences based on finds of Minoan objects in dated Egyptian deposits or of dated Egyptian objects on specific levels of Minoan sites. For example, a first phase in the second palace at Knossos is dated by Evans's discovery of an alabaster lid inscribed with the cartouche and name of the Egyptian Hyksos king named Khyan (c. 1600 BCE).