3,300-year-old Egyptian carving bears scars of religious revolution under Akhenaten
Archaeologists have announced the discovery of an ancient Egyptian carving, which had once adorned a temple dedicated to Queen Tiye but was later defaced under the reign of Akhenaten, who unleased a religious revolution throughout the region. However, following the death of the rebellious pharaoh, the carving was restored, probably under the rulership of King Tutankhamun.
The Nubian sandstone carving, which measures 1.8 metres tall by 0.4 metres wide, was recently found in two-pieces in a tomb at the Sedeinga archaeological site in what is now Sudan, according to a report in Live Science. The relief depicts the god Amun, along with his name in hieroglyphics.
Researchers discovered that the relief had once adorned the walls of a temple dedicated to Queen Tiye, Akhenaten’s mother, who died in 1340 BC, but was later reused as a bench in a tomb.
The tomb where the relief was discovered. Credit: V. Francigny, Sedeinga Mission
Analysis of the carving reported in the journal Sudan and Nubia revealed that at one stage in history, the face of Amun and his name had been hacked out from the panel. The order to deface the carving came from the pharaoh Akhenaten, a revolutionary king who set about to reform the religion of the time by transforming faith in Amun Ra to the god of Aten (the Sun Disc), thereby creating the first monotheistic religion. Originally born under the name Amenhotep IV, he later changed it to Akhenaten, meaning ‘the glory of Aten’. Under his reign, images of Amun were obliterated throughout all Egypt-controlled territory.
Ahenaten’s revolutionary actions weren’t taken easily by the priesthood and the Egyptians followers of Amun Ra. It was difficult for such a traditional culture to reject their old gods, and the priesthood—which held a great deal of power—would not allow something like this. As a result, Akhenaten’s actions faced resistance, and it wasn’t very long before his son, Tutankhamen, restored the old religion, disregarding his father’s actions.
Archaeologists believe that it was around this time that the god's face and hieroglyphs on the carving were restored.
The carving of Amun was restored following the death of Akhenaten. Credit: Photo by V. Francigny, Sedeinga Mission