jueves, 3 de abril de 2014

Evidence from Tempest Stela may shift Pharaoh chronology (Egypt)



Broken pieces of what is known as the Tempest Stela were found in the 3rd Pylon of the Temple of Karnak at Thebes between 1947 and 1951 by French archaeologists. The stela dates back to the reign of the Pharaoh Ahmose, the first Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. His rule marked the beginning of the New Kingdom, a time when Egypt’s power reached its height.
A new translation of a 40-line inscription on the nearly 2m-tall calcite block describes rain, darkness and “the sky being in storm without cessation, louder than the cries of the masses.”

Massive volcanic explosion

Two scholars at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute support the belief that the unusual weather patterns described on the slab were the result of the massive volcanic eruption at Thera—the present-day island of Santorini in the Mediterranean Sea. Volcanic eruptions on the scale of Thera would have had a widespread impact on weather in Egypt and the rest of the eastern Mediterranean.
The new translation suggests the Egyptian Pharaoh Ahmose ruled at a time closer to the Thera eruption than previously thought—a finding that could change scholars’ understanding of a critical juncture in human history when Bronze Age empires in the region realigned. The research from the Oriental Institute’s Nadine Moeller and Robert Ritner appears in the spring issue of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.

Altering the dates of Pharaoh Ahmose

If the stela does indeed describe the aftermath of the Thera eruption, the correct dating of the stela itself and Ahmose’s reign, currently thought to be about 1550 BC, could actually be up to 50 years earlier.
“This is important to scholars of the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean, generally because the chronology that archaeologists use is based on the lists of Egyptian Pharaohs, and this new information could adjust those dates,” said Moeller, assistant professor of Egyptian archaeology at the Oriental Institute, who specializes in research on ancient urbanism and chronology.
In 2006, radiocarbon testing of an olive tree buried under volcanic residue placed the date of the Thera eruption at 1621-1605 BC. Until now, the archaeological evidence for the date of the Thera eruption seemed at odds with the radiocarbon dating, explained Oriental Institute postdoctoral scholar Felix Hoeflmayer, who has studied the chronological implications related to the eruption. However, if the date of Ahmose’s reign is earlier than previously believed, the resulting shift in chronology “might solve the whole problem,” Hoeflmayer said.
The revised dating of Ahmose’s reign could mean the dates of other events in the ancient Near East fit together more logically. It would realigns the dates of important events such as the fall of the power of the Canaanites and the collapse of the Babylonian Empire, said David Schloen, associate professor in the Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations on ancient cultures in the Middle East.
“This new information would provide a better understanding of the role of the environment in the development and destruction of empires in the ancient Middle East,” he said. For example, the new chronology helps to explain how Ahmose rose to power and supplanted the Canaanite rulers of Egypt—the Hyksos—according to Schloen. The Thera eruption and resulting tsunami would have destroyed the Hyksos’ ports and significantly weakened their sea power.
In addition, the disruption to trade and agriculture would have undermined the power of the Babylonian Empire and could explain why the Babylonians were unable to fend off an invasion of the Hittites, another ancient culture that flourished in what is now Turkey.

‘A tempest of rain’

Some researchers consider the text on the Tempest Stela to be a metaphorical document that described the impact of the Hyksos invasion. However, Ritner’s translation shows that the text was more likely a description of weather events consistent with the disruption caused by the massive Thera explosion.
Ritner said the text reports that Ahmose witnessed the disaster—the description of events in the stela text is frightening. It describes the “sky being in storm” with “a tempest of rain” for a period of days. The passages also describe bodies floating down the Nile like “skiffs of papyrus.” Importantly, the text refers to events affecting both the delta region and the area of Egypt further south along the Nile. “This was clearly a major storm, and different from the kinds of heavy rains that Egypt periodically receives.”
In addition to the Tempest Stela, a text known as the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus from the reign of Ahmose also makes a special point of mentioning thunder and rain, “which is further proof that the scholars under Ahmose paid close and particular attention to matters of weather,” Ritner said.

Compared to known weather patterns

Marina Baldi, a scientist in climatology and meteorology at the Institute of Biometeorology of the National Research Council in Italy, has analysed the information on the stela along with her colleagues and compared it to known weather patterns in Egypt. A dominant weather pattern in the area is a system called “the Red Sea Trough,” which brings hot, dry air to the area from East Africa. When disrupted, that system can bring severe weather, heavy precipitation and flash flooding, similar to that reported on the Tempest Stela.
“A modification in the atmospheric circulation after the eruption could have driven a change in the precipitation regime of the region. Therefore the episode in the Tempest Stela could be a consequence of these climatological changes,” Baldi explained.

Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2014/evidence-from-tempest-stela-may-shift-pharaoh-chronology

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