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The Stela

  The Tempest Stela was commissioned by Pharaoh Ahmose about 3500 years ago. This flat stone contains the same hieroglyphic text on both sides. The text describes in about 20 lines the consequences of a terrible storm which devastated Egypt,  and then the action taken by the King to repair the damage and to make offerings to the gods. It describes how the sky turned black and violent storms caused catastrophic floods, both of which call to mind two of the Plagues of Egypt.


   In the words of Claude Vandersleyen, who was the first person to translate the text in 1967 – at which time he could not have made a connection with the eruption of Thera the volcano on Santorini – the Stela “reads as soberly as the minutes of a meeting, and only uses imagery to convey how violent the hurricane was; only once does the king's astonishment show through the  dry account,  the technical nature of which is far from being its least interesting  feature”.  He goes on to say  “the account of events as they occurred in time and space is remarkably rigorous”. And he stresses its exceptional character : it is “undoubtedly the most detailed account of a weather event in Ancient Egypt, and in this case the rain is described as calamitous”.