The Restoration Stela of Tutankhamen sample essay
The ancient Egypt was full of solemn mysteries and intriguing stories that have colored its past. Mainly it involves the prestigious and exquisite hieroglyphs that were used by the ancient Egyptians to record the important things that had happened in their time. One of these important facts that have led some of our contemporary scholars to the discovery of the ancient way of life of Egypt was the Restoration Stela of Tutankhamen, that was prominently known for it had depicted a period in ancient history wherein much have been said.
For all we know, there are several historians, archeologist and egyptiologist who became very interested with this Stela or gigantic stones that are full of different carvings. Each of this people has their own interpretation and perspective about the meaning of the hieroglyphs found in the monumental stone.
Whatever their interpretation maybe is then subjected to the personal whims and biases of the reader, thus the meaning of the whole stela is dependent on the reader as well as to the interpreter or translator. For all this, there are two known translators of the Stela, one is Jan Assman and the other is Charles Pope. Although there are common themes present in their translation, a difference with a single word means a whole lot difference in the reading of the text as a whole.
The Stela was believed to be written on the time of Tutankhamen’s nine years regime. The stela is said to be a written history of the reactions against the heretical tyranny of the past king and a description of the nation on his reign, it was then followed by the would-be projects and developments that the then present king Tut would impose.
Accordingly, the young boy, who is controversially aged around nine or twelve was not in any position to have had the knowledge and enough skill in able to have authored the said Stela since aside from his being immaturity to rule on his own, he did not had a chance to see what was really happening during his time and what was the actual reasons on why things turned to be the way it had, which is what the Stela contains.
Indeed it must have been reported to him, or there must have been someone who has been guiding him to think as such. In line with this, it must be justifiable to assume that the authorship of the Stela was not of Tutankhamen but of someone else.
As far as my knowledge goes, every young prince or king for that matter, needs to have a guardian, usually a senior officer or a relative who have lived long enough to know how to guide the young child to rule on his own. In case of Tutankhamen, it cannot be his mother, Kiya, since she died short time after his birth, neither can it be Nefertiti, who was the crowned queen of Egypt and the first wife of Tut’s father Akhenaton because they were also dead during Tut’s reign. Thus, it can be assumed that the author of the Stela was either a senior government official or a priest.
In Tut’s time, there are two prominent figures who are a possible candidate as the author of the Stela, Ay and Horemheb. Although, it is hard to argue if they or one of them had been the real author of the document, it is more reliable to give them the title. Specifically in the case of Horemheb, since he was the one who claim the throne after Tutankhamen’s death. Aside from that, the decrees made by Horemheb were similar to the eloquent and powerful words that were used in the Stela, along with the similarities in the policies and regulations.
The general theme of the Stela shows Chaos and the need for a reformation. According to the data, it was written that Nefertiti had a prophecy which states that “the gods would turn away from a land that breaks its own system of order”. This prophecy was highlighted in able to emphasize how the rule of Akhenaton had led to a disorder that was the main theme of the Stela.
Akhenaton had ordered the change of the Supreme God of Egypt when he moves the capital from Memphis to Amarna. The change of capital had led people to abandon their old homes and culture and to embrace the new God that was favored by the king. With respect to this, the king had ordered to destroy and erased the entire inscription of the names of other Gods especially that of Amon and to delete all that contains the name of the Gods and even the term Gods itself. For according to Akhenaton, the only god was Aten or Aton.
This event had catered several changes not only in place of habitat and religion but also to the feelings of the citizens or the people towards the ruler or the king. The Stela shows that the temples were forgotten or neglected up to the point that the conditions of the holy places were described as “collapse”. This indicates the affirmation of Akhenaton’s change of Supreme God, because the temples of the previous Gods and goddesses where in a bad and deserted situation. This must have had angered many priest that are supporters of Amon. The priests, by the way, are also powerful figures in the ancient Egypt.
It was also mentioned using the translation of Assman, which “their divine dwellings were as though they had never existed”. Here we can see that the people have not been in the temples of the old gods and goddesses. This illustrates that Akhenaton had enforce military action in able to control religion.
Another phrase says “the land was in extreme distress” which seems to show that the lands along with its people are suffering from something. The mention of the word distress seems to inculcate in my mind a scenario wherein there is a famine, a drought or a disease. There is also a phrase that states that the “Gods had turned away from this land”, that adds to my presumption, that indeed the land was suffering something that is inexplicably horrible.
An event of war with Syria or Djhay was also mentioned and is according to the Stela “was not granted the slightest success”. I believe this is due to the fact that because there had been so many problems within the administration and with the presence of “distress” among the land and the people, the war was really impossible to be a success.
Other things that are mentioned in the Stela include the rights of the King, a short history and the mention of the Gods and its relation to the king. There was also a statement that tells the reader of what the current ruler or king would want to do. Thus, with relation to the current generation, we can equate the Stela with the State of the Nation Address that were commonly made by the Presidents or Prime Minister every year. It states what was wrong in the system and then it lay downs the ideas and projects that would tend to resolve the problem.
The Stela can be related to the other documents or monumental slates that were used during that time, because it contains the usual depiction of Chaos. It also mentions the relation of Gods and Goddesses and it is a vital stepping stone to the provisions and programs that are present in the Edict of Horemheb. According to Assman, Horemheb had indeed used what Tutankhamen has accomplished and started in able to start his own political propaganda which largely includes the “bringing back of the Gods and Goddess” (385). By doing so, they believe that the years of “distress” would end because the Supreme Beings would once again be pleased. In this way Maat or order will once again rule the land and Chaos will end.
It can be related to earlier text such that of the erased or deleted inscriptions that I have mentioned above, for indeed, the previous king, Tut’s father had forbidden anything that has any relation with other Gods except Aton. The prophecy that was also mentioned above would tell us that there had been a warning from the priest or from the Gods that those who would change the order would suffer. The mentioned of weeds growing in the temples of Gods tells us that the temples were abandoned and the broken statutes and monuments proves that the destruction of the temples had actually happened.
Typical to the period was the mention of wars and subduing enemies along with the so many gods and goddess, the power of the king and the eminence of the royal family. The pleasing of the Gods in their temples is also typical. Moreover fighting off chaos and renewing the light or the right is the most typical of all. Every leader has mention this statements in their addresses or speech. Also, the building of temples and the advent of offerings along with the notion of more wealth and more power over the lands was present in many other ancient writings.
What made it different from other Stela’s is the fact that instead of focusing on praising the administration or the works and achievement of the ruler, it also indicates several misfortunes and incidence that do not expose the good side of the government. Instead it shows how incompetent and how bad the government was run. Aside from that, the mention of defeat in Syria instead of the battles that have been one was a little strange than usual.
All these can be asserted through the presents of evidences that show that there are actual theft and bribery present. There are many paintings in the walls and potteries that show military men beating citizens and taking bribes. Also there was a picture of the Queen beating a captive from war.
The text was actually discovered in 1905 inside the Great temple of Amun, Ipet-sun, by an archeologist named George Legrain. Since it was in the temple of Amun, it must have been a sort of sealing contract or a pact between the government of Tutankhamun and the priest of Amun in able to remind the king and to show and convince the people that the king intend to go back to please the old gods and goddess and to dispose the current religion that was made by the late king.
In this way, the citizens, most of who are in favor of the god Amun would support the young king because he was siding with their Gods. The improvement in the economy and in the relationship of the government and the citizens proves that the Stela was effective. It can also be seen in the continued support that Horemheb had when he took over the throne.
The temple of Amun is the best place for the Restoration Stela, because being there shows that this is how the restoration starts, by bringing back the name of the God into which temple it belongs. Aside from that, it also serves as an apology to explain what had transcribed during the past years. In this way, the current ruler could clean his name as well as save himself from the criticism of the religious sector.
The Stela would be read by the supporters of Amon, being so, they would also be aware of the different things that had happened and what the current administration, most especially, the ruler would intend to do, in order to “restore” what had been done in the past.
All in all, the Restoration stela of Tutankhamen had provide us with several information about what had happened in the past that have greatly affected the rule and role of religion and the Tutankhamen. It shows us how the temples and shrines of the Gods and Goddesses where left in vain and how a change of religion had affect the empire’s economy along with the daily living. (Ruiz, 154)
It also gives a brief overview of the battle that happened between Egypt and Syria, which even was false or cannot be proven true, can somehow manifest in our minds the hardships that the military had experienced in ancient times. It also tells us that the King although he was still very young was able to administer or declare war with other nations or empires.
The “distress lands” that was discussed in the earlier part of this paper represents severe problems that had affected the lands. Although it was not specified, what makes the land distress; it would be justifiable to account this to the consecutive deaths of the royalties and several other citizens that they relate to the reaction of the gods and goddesses due to the disregard of the late regime.
In context of the death of Tutankhamen, which was recently related to an injury of the knee that was fractured during a battle, it cannot be ignored that the prince although young in age was involved in wars or even hunting.
Politically speaking, the Restoration Stela of Tutankhamen had been a medium for the people who crave for power to ensure a place for them upon manipulating the young king and taking advantage of the situation by making it visible in the public eye what was done and what can be done.
Aldred, Cyril. (1986). Egyptian Art. Thames and Hudson.
Assman, Jan (2002).The Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharoahs. Harvard University Press.
Bunson, Margaret. (1991). A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New Jersey.
Desroches-Noblecourt, C.(1987). Tutankhamun. New York: Penguin Paperbacks.
Freed, Rita E. (1981). Egypt’s Golden Age, The Art of Living in the New Kingdom, 1558-1085 B.C.
Mysliwiec, Karol (2000). The Twilight of Ancient Egypt: First Millenium B.C.E. Cornell University Press.
O’Connor, David B (1998). Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. Michgan: University of Michigan Press.
Pope, Charles (2001). A Twisted History. Retrived from the World Wide Web on July 24, 2007, from: http://www.dwij.org/forum/future_link/future1.html
Romano, James F. (1984). Daily Life in Egypt of the Pharaohs. New York.
Ruiz, Ana. (2001). The Spirit of Ancient Egypt. New York: Algora Publishing.
White, J.E. Manchip. (1970). Ancient Egypt: Its Culture and Its History. New York.
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