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The Tempest Stela

2 April 2014

At www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2014/evidence-from-tempest-… … the so called Tempest Stela is causing a bit of a stir. It was originally found at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes by French archaeologists 60 + years ago, and it dated to the reign of Ahmose, first pharaoh of dynasty 18 (credited with driving out the Hyksos foreigners). A new translation of part of the text is at the centre of a new theory. It describes rain, darkness, and 'the sky being' in storm without cessation, louder than the cries of the masses' (but quite what that really means is open to conjecture). Two scholars from the University of Chicago claim these unusual weather patterns were induced by the Thera volcano, a nice theory when you take the darkness into account (a pall of volcanic debris). It has been thought for some time that the volcano would have had an impact on weather in Egypt – and Hans Goedicke famously took advantage of the possibility (but dated the event to mid dynasty 18). Ther Moeller and Ritner article is in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies (spring, 2014). This requires redating the reign of Ahmose – advancing it by some 50 years. We may note this theory has been put forward as a result of C14 dating of an olive tree branch under volcanic residue from the Thera volcano, which is dated 1621-1605BC. However, the C14 date has been challenged – by a number of people and organisations (see Bob Porter in SIS 'archaeology news' reports and at the Yahoo New Chronology Group). Orthodox historians have also challenged the link between the C14 date and Thera as they have generally dated the eruption to mid dynasty 18 (as a result of pumice turning up in archaeology of that period, presumably floating across the eastern Mediterranean). Hence, a theory developed that the Tempest Stela was 'metophorical' – a way of describing the unwelcome Hyksos invasion (assuming an actual invasion occurred rather than a surge of refugees from the Levant, or a piecemeal invasion that took place over a long period of time, the newcomers eventually gaining ascendancy in the delta). Now, it is being suggested, the stela should be taken literally – and I see no problem with this interpretation. So, what does it tell us? The sky was in storm, there was a lot of noise, and it became dark for a pronounced period of time. One can see an obvious parallel here with the Biblical account of the Exodus, but that is not mentioned in the press release. It is the 'tempest of rain'that differs from the Biblical story – and it is said to have lasted for days. In addition, bodies are depicted as floating down the Nile, and the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, also dating from the reign of Ahmose, it is thought, also mentions thunder and rain.

The link with the volcano is conjecture, we may note. A nice link to be sure but not the only possibility. A meteor storm, or an atmospheric explosion in a nearby region might also have caused the loud noise, darkness, and heavy rainfall (for Egypt). This may have a connection with the low growth tree ring event dated 1628-23BC (dendrochronology rather than C14) while we also have the possibility that C14 calibration is in error by some 100 to 150 years – see www.informath.org. That would bring down the date of the olive tree (and we don't know how old it was before it was covered in ash and debris) so the whole question is open to argument – and those arguments will eventually be aired. On top of that, and being a trifle cynical if you like, the idea of associating Ahmose with Thera (rather than a mid dynasty 18 pharaoh) does go some way to solve a conundrum for mainsteam Egyptologists (who have manned the barricades against the idea of adjusting their chronology to fit the olive tree C14 date) as it only requires an adjustment of 50 years. If Thera erupted in mid dynasty 18 it would involve a much bigger adjustment – an adjustment too far for most of them. It also makes a little more sense of the chronology of Crete as Thera is normally dated to LMI (too early for mid dynasty 18). All in all, a welcome addition to the chronology debate. Unwelcome by some no doubt but something to be gnawed at over the next few months. I like the similarity between Ahmose and Moses – but this is probably circumstantial.

The same story is at www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2595535/Is-weather-report-How-3-…

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