The restoration of Amen under Tutankhamen: The Restoration Stela
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Tutankhamen's Restoration

The Restoration Stela, ca. 1334 BCE
Restauration Stela Year 1, Akhet (month) 4 , day 19, under his majesty of Horus "Strong Bull Beautiful of Births", the Two Ladies "Effective of Laws who Pacifies the Two Lands", Golden Horus "Young of Appearance Satisfying the Gods", king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nebkheperure, Son of Re Tutankhamen, ruler of Heliopolis of the South, who is given life for all eternity like Re, beloved of Amen-Re, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands from Ipet-esut, beloved of Atem. Lord of the Two Lands, the Heliopolitan, of Re-Harakhte, of Ptah south of his Wall, Lord of the life of the Two Lands, of Thoth, lord of the words of the gods, who appeared on the Horus throne of the living daily like his father Re. The Good God, son of Amen, child of the Bull of his mother; useful seed; holy egg created by Amen himself; father of the Two Lands, creator of the one who created him and former of him who had formed him. The bas of Heliopolis were assembled in order to form him to make a king for eternity, Horus existing forever.
After Helck, Wolfgang, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie. Übersetzung zu den Heften 17-22, Berlin, 1984, pp. 365-368
The good ruler, performing benefactions for his father (Amen) and all the gods, for he has made what was ruined to endure as a monument for the ages (5) of eternity and he has expelled deceit throughout the Two Lands, and justice was set up [so that] it might make lying to be an abomination of the land, as (in) its first time. Now when his majesty appeared as king, the temples of the gods and goddesses from Elephantine [1] [down] to the marshes of the Delta [had... and] gone to pieces (or fallen into neglect). Their shrines had become desolate, had become mounds overgrown with [weeds]. Their sanctuaries (or chapels) were as if they had never been. Their halls were a footpath (or trodden roads). The land was topsy-turvy and the gods turned their backs upon this land.
If [the army was] sent to Djahi [2] to extend the frontiers of Egypt, no success of theirs came at all.
If one prayed to a god to seek counsel from him, he would never come [at all]. If one made supplication (or petition) to a goddess similarly, she would never come at all.
Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Princeton, 1969, pp. 251-252
Now when some days had passed his majesty appeared on the throne of his father. He ruled the Banks of Horus, the Black Land and the Red Land were under his rule. Every land bowed before his might. But his majesty was in the palace which was in the domain of Akheperkare [4] like Re in the sky. Then his majesty made plans for this land and the daily needs. Then his majesty thought in his heart and searched for something magnificent useful for his father Amen. He created his holy statue from genuine electrum. He gave him more than had been done since the beginning. He formed his father Amen on 13 carrying poles (Davies [3]: 13 poles long), and his magnificent statue was made of electrum, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and all kinds of precious stones. Formerly the majesty of this holy god had been on 11 poles.
He created Ptah-south-of-his-Wall, the lord of Lives-of-Both-Lands, and his holy statue was made of electrum on 11 poles and his magnificent image was made of electrum, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and all kinds of precious stones. Formerly this holy god had been on only 7 carrying poles (Davies: 7 poles long).
His majesty made monuments for the gods by making their holy statues of genuine electrum of the best of the foreign lands (Davies: electrum from the tribute of the foreign lands). He recreated their sanctuaries as monuments until the limits of eternity, exquisitely equipped with offerings for all eternity, by endowing them with divine offerings as regular daily sacrifices and endowing them with provisions on earth (Davies: bread from the earth). He gave more than had been formerly. He surpassed what had been done since the times of his ancestors. He introduce
wab-priests and prophets of the children of the officials of their city, as the son of a man of note whose name was known (Davies: whose reputation is established). He multiplied their altars of gold, silver, bronze and copper (Davies: enriched their tables with gold ...) and there was no end to all things. He filled their workhouses with male and female slaves (Davies: workers) from the supply of booty of his majesty. He increased all the taxes to the temples (Davies: He has added to the wealth), doubling, trebling and quadrupling the silver, gold, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and all kinds of precious stones, royal linen, white linen, coloured linen (Davies: ordinary linen), utensils, resin, fat, ... incense, frankincense, myrrh, without there being a limit to all the good things.
His majesty, life, prosperity, health, built barks (Davies: quays) on the Nile from new cedar wood of the best of Lebanon, from the pick of Negau, mounted with gold of the best (Davies: tribute) of the foreign lands so that they brighten the Nile. His majesty , life prosperity, health, assembled male and female slaves, female singers and dancers, who had been milling slaves in the king's house. The cost of their labour was charged to the palace and to the treasury of the lord of the Two Lands. I had them protected and freed (Davies: guarded) for the forebears, all gods, hoping to satisfy them by doing what their
kas, who are protecting the land of Egypt, wish.
The gods and goddesses who are in this land, their hearts were full of joy and the lords of the sanctuaries were jubilating. The lands rejoiced and exulted. Laughter was (heard) throughout the land as beautiful things had happened. The Ennead in the sanctuary, (raised) their arms in adoration, while their hands were filled with
heb seds for all eternity. All their life and health was (from) the nose of the mighty king , the Horus, who repeats births, the beloved son of Amen-Re, king of the gods, who had begotten him so that he would be created, of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt ... beloved of Amen, his verily his eldest beloved son, who protects the father who has begotten him, whose kingship is the kingship of Osiris, of the son of Re ... of the son, who is beneficial to the one who has begotten him, the one rich in monuments, with many marvels, who makes monuments in probity for his father Amen, beautiful of births, of the sovereign who founded Egypt.
After Helck, Wolfgang, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie. Übersetzung zu den Heften 17-22, Berlin, 1984, pp. 365-368


    It is difficult to estimate just how badly the temples in general and the Amen temples in particular fared under Akhenaten. Tutankhamen's inscription describes their lot as one of utter destruction. Unfortunately rulers everywhere, and not least the pharaohs, have been known to embellish the truth, aggrandize themselves and their accomplishments, detract from their enemies' worth, claim the achievements of others as their own or simply copy somebody else's inscriptions. A king who needed the support of the priesthood might well have talked of the 'desolation of the shrines' to make his own contribution to the temples more impressive.
    But in the absence of any evidence to the contrary we should accept the essence of the stela's inscription and not lose ourselves in speculation, while always remembering that the stela's statements are very general and largely unsupported by independent evidence. That Amen represented something especially odious to Akhenaten can be deduced from the erasure of his depictions and those of his family, while other gods and their followers were mostly left untouched [5]. Some oppression of his priests and temples is not unlikely.
    Worship of other gods went on even in Akhetaten itself. Amulets and figurines of Hathor, Isis, Bes, the wedjat and even inscriptions bearing the name of Amen have been found [6].
Picture source:
[  ] Restoration Stela: Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
Two almost symmetrical depictions of the pharaoh bringing offerings to Amen who wields the was sceptre. (Use mouse-over to see a line drawing of the scene)
[1] Elephantine: At the southern border of Egypt.
[2] Djahi: region in Canaan, possibly in the Judean hills.
[3] Benedict G. Davies, Egyptian Historical Records of the Later Eighteenth Dynasty, Fascicle VI, Translated from W. Helck, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Heft 22, Warminster, 1995
[4] Akheperkare: Thutmose I (1527-1515), according to Gardiner the domain of Akheperkare was in Memphis (Alan Gardiner Egypt of the Pharaohs, 1961, Oxford University Press).
[5] Parennefer, buried at Akhetaten, was supervisor of the prophets of all the gods.

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© August 2000
Update: October 2004