Our knowledge of the succession of Egyptian kings is based on kinglists kept by the ancient Egyptians themselves. The most famous are the Palermo Stone, which covers the period from the earliest dynasties to the middle of Dynasty 5; the Abydos Kinglist, which Seti I had carved on his temple at Abydos; and the Turin Canon, a papyrus that covers the period from the earliest dynasties to the reign of Ramesses II. All are incomplete or fragmentary. We also rely on the History of Egypt written by Manetho in the third century B.C. A priest in the temple at Heliopolis, Manetho had access to many original sources and it was he who divided the kings into the thirty dynasties we use today.
It is to this structure of dynasties and listed kings that we now attempt to link an absolute chronology of dates in terms of our own calendrical system. The process is made difficult by the fragmentary condition of the kinglists and by differences in the calendrical years used at various times. Some astronomical observations from the ancient Egyptians have survived, allowing us to calculate absolute dates within a margin of error. Synchronisms with the other civilizations of the ancient world are also of limited use.
Department of Egyptian Art. “List of Rulers of Ancient Egypt and Nubia.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/phar/hd_phar.htm (October 2002)