Ancient Egyptian weather report tells of volcanic eruption

A translation of text on a six foot tall Egyptian calcite block dating 3,500 years old, known as the Tempest Stela, may refer to the massive volcanic eruption at Thera, modern day Santorini.

The inscription speaks of rain, darkness and “the sky being in storm without cessation louder than the cry of the masses.” Not only is the translation making waves with the weather, but also the dating of it. According to Heritage Daily, Pharaoh Ahmose was in power during the eruption, but was thought to be a later date. This means that the pharaoh, who brought in the New Kingdom, actually reigned 30 – 50 years earlier than previously thought.


The new date may answer a lot of unanswered question that have stumped archaeologists in the past, just like the Thera eruption. The new date allows events to fit together more logically.

But back to the stela. The block was found in Thebes, modern day Luxor, where Ahmose ruled and was discovered in pieces.


Some scholars thought the translation referred to a metaphorical description of the Hyksos invasion, but the new research done by two scholars at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute suggest otherwise. The text also speaks of the “sky being in storm” and a “tempest of rain” for days on end. The huge explosion at Thera could definitely have sparked some weird weather across the Mediterranean – like that Iceland one that no one can pronounce.

Climatologist Marina Baldi explains that there is a weather system called the Red Sea Trough which brings hot and dry conditions to Egypt. But when disrupted (which is what the volcano likely did) it can cause extreme conditions of rain and flash floods.


One thought on “Ancient Egyptian weather report tells of volcanic eruption

  1. Pingback: Weekly archaeology roundup 4/4/2014 | Unearthed

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