The Tempest Stele (alt. Storm Stele) was erected by Ahmose I early in the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, circa 1550 BCE. The stele describes a great storm striking Egypt during this time, destroying tombs, temples and pyramids in the Theban region and the work of restoration ordered by the king.
Broken pieces of this stele were found in the 3rd Pylon of the temple of Karnak at Thebes between 1947 and 1951 by French archaeologists. It was restored and published by Claude Vandersleyen in 1967 and 1968.
Unfortunately, the part of the stele that describes the storm, itself, is the most damaged part of the stele, with many lacunae in the meteorological description. The other parts of the stele are much better preserved.
Here are some descriptions of the storm.
(8) ... The gods (made?) the sky come with a tempest of (rain?); it caused darkness in the Western region; the sky was
(9) unleashed, without ... ... more than the roar of the crowd; ... was powerful... on the mountains more than the turbulence of the
(10) cataract which is at Elephantine. Each house, ... each shelter (or each covered place) that they reached...
(11) ... were floating in the water like the barks of papyrus (on the outside?) of the royal residence for ... day(s) ...
There are Egyptologists who believe the stele to be propaganda put out by the pharaoh, the "tempest" being the depredations of officials of the embattled seventeenth dynasty of Egypt drawing upon the financial resources of the temples during the escalating conflict with the Hyksos. This would constitute an official re-writing of history, for which there are other parallels, such as Hatshepsut's Speos Artemidos, which records "storms" that similarly destroyed temples[not in citation given], which she restored during her reign, while pointedly cursing the Hyksos and "toppling what had been made" there.
The argument has been made that there was "a meteorological event of far-reaching proportions, one of the major aftereffects, we strongly suspect, of the Thera eruption" and that the stele reflects an eye-witness account of the eruption. Others argue that given the description in the stele, this is unlikely. Radiocarbondating suggests a date between about 1628 and 1600 for the eruption with 1628 being a possible date.
In 2014, Nadine Moeller and Robert Ritner offered a new translation of the Tempest Stela. They believe the unusual weather patterns described on the slab were the result of a massive volcano explosion at Thera. They also suggest that the Egyptian pharaoh Ahmose I ruled at a time closer to the Thera eruption than previously thought.
- Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. p. 209−210 Oxford University Press. 2000. ISBN 0-19-280458-8
- Claude Vandersleyen, « Deux nouveaux fragments de la stèle d’Amosis relatant une tempête », RdE 20, 1968, p. 127-134.
- Claude Vandersleyen, « Une tempête sous le règne d’Amosis », RdE 19, 1967, p. 123−159.
- A Storm in Egypt during the Reign of Ahmose Description and translation of the stele.
- The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut at the Wayback Machine (archived April 13, 2005), accessed May 26, 2013.
- Wiener, Malcolm H.; James P. Allen (1998). "Separate Lives: The Ahmose Tempest Stela and the Theran Eruption". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 57 (1): 1–28. doi:10.1086/468596. JSTOR 545324.
- PDF file Foster, Karen Plinger; Ritner, Robert K.; Foster, Benjamin R. (1996). "Text, Storms and the Thera Eruption". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 55 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1086/373781. JSTOR 545376.
- Walsh, Kevin (2013). The Archaeology of Mediterranean Landscapes: Human-Environment Interaction from the Neolithic to the Roman Period. Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0521853019.
- Ancient stormy weather: World's oldest weather report could revise bronze age chronology. sciencedaily.com, April 2014
- Ritner, Robert K.; Nadine Moeller (April 2014). "The Ahmose ‘Tempest Stela’, Thera and Comparative Chronology". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 73 (1). doi:10.1086/675069.
- Davis, E. N., "A Storm in Egypt during the Reign of Ahmose" in D.A.Hardy and A. C. Renfrew, eds.,"Thera and the Aegean World III", Volume Three: "Chronology" Proceedings of the Third International Congress, Santorini, Greece, 3–9 September 1989. The Thera Foundation, 1990, ISBN 978-0-9506133-7-6
- English Translation of the Tempest Stele describing the storm itself (Internet Archive)
- Professor Donald B. Redford - Penn State University department page