Defacer of Ancient Carving May Have Been King Tut's Father

A newly discovered Egyptian carving, which dates back more than 3,300 years, bears the scars of a religious revolution that upended the ancient civilization.

The panel, carved in Nubian Sandstone, was found recently in a tomb at the site of Sedeinga, in modern-day Sudan.

Originally, it adorned the walls of a temple at Sedeinga that was dedicated to Queen Tiye (also spelled Tiyi), who died around 1340 B.C. Several centuries after Tiye's death — and after her temple had fallen into ruin — this panel was reused in a tomb as a bench that held a coffin above the floor.

Archaeologists found that the god depicted in the carving, Amun, had his face and hieroglyphs hacked out from the panel. The order to deface the carving came from Akhenaten (reign 1353-1336 B.C.), a pharaoh who tried to focus Egyptian religion around the worship of the "Aten," the sun disk. In his fervor, Akhenaten had the name and images of Amun, a key Egyptian god, obliterated throughout all Egypt-controlled territory.

This included the ancient land of Nubia, a territory that is now partly in Sudan.The carving was originally created for the temple of Queen Tiye — Akhenaten's mother — who may have been alive when the defacement occurred. Today, only one column and a plethora of blocks survive from Queen Tiye's temple, which has not been excavated, Francigny said.

Egyptian carving
Here, the upper part of the Egyptian carving, showing the hieroglyph of Amun (top left); the hieroglyph and the god's face were hacked out on orders of pharaoh Akhenaten (reign 1353-1336 B.C) and were later restored. V. Francigny / Sedeinga Mission

The archaeologists also found that, after Akhenaten's death, the god's face and hieroglyphs on this carving were restored. This restoration may have been done during the reign of the boy king Tutankhamun (reign 1336-1327 B.C.), who is famous for his rich tomb.

Akhenaten's religious revolution did not last. Shortly after his death, Tutankhamun, who may have been Akhenaten's son, assumed the throne and returned Egypt to its former polytheistic religion.

-- Owen Jarus, Live Science

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