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. It is about 5.8 feet (1.8 meters) tall by 1.3 feet (0.4 m) wide, and was found in two pieces.
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. [See Photos of the Egyptian Carving and Sedeinga Tomb.
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.
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