The origins of ancient Egypt lie in prehistory, a millennium before the pyramids were built. Current understanding of how and why the Egyptian state developed is based solely on archaeological evidence. Proceedings A has published the results of a new study which introduces more than 100 fresh radiocarbon dates relating to the period of Egyptian state formation, and uses mathematical modelling to suggest that the process unfolded more rapidly than previously thought. The paper provides a new timeline for the period between 4500 and 2800 BC and give the most robust chronology so far for the first dynastic rulers of Egypt. In this podcast we talk to two of the authors of the paper about some of the work involved in this study.