Perhaps causing harm to them in real life wasn’t enough, which may have been why the carving of a couple on a 3,500-year-old shrine in Tell Edfu, Egypt, was purposely damaged in a further attempt to hurt them in the afterlife.
As Live Science reports, the limestone carving of the couple shows a man and a woman next to each other with both their names in life and their earthly occupations written in hieroglyphs. However, this writing was later mostly blotted out so it couldn’t be read, and Nadine Moeller, director of the Tell Edfu Project, explained, “The faces of the couple were damaged.”
According to Moeller, simply erasing the name of a person in ancient Egypt generally implies that this person should be completely erased from history forever, not to mention the afterlife, which ancient Egyptians spent the entirety of their lives preparing for.
“Erasing a private person’s name in ancient Egypt is usually a sign of someone wanting to erase the memory of this person and therefore obliterate their existence in the afterlife. For the ancient Egyptians, being remembered after death was very important, so they would receive offerings in the netherworld. By erasing someone’s name, you are also taking away their identity and the good deeds they did during their lifetimes for which they will be remembered after death.”
— Live Science (@LiveScience) January 16, 2019
Because the Tell Edfu hieroglyphs were so very thoroughly scratched out, archaeologists are currently working hard to try and decipher what has been left behind. What they have discovered so far is that the man was given the title of “major,” while the woman was known as a “noble woman,” and the couple both “belonged to the administrative elite of the town of Edfu.”
Whoever was intent on erasing this couple from both history and the afterlife is unknown, as they left no indication of who they might be behind, nor did they give any motive for their vandalism. It is also not known at this time just when the damage was done to the ancient Egyptian shrine in Tell Edfu.
One of the things that is known about this shrine is that it was originally built between 1500 BCE and 1450 BCE, and was placed within a very large villa. Close to the shrine, archaeologists have recovered a tiny statuette that was fashioned out of black diorite stone, and the scribe who engraved hieroglyphs upon it was called “Juf.”
While the vandalism to the couple carved onto the 3,500-year-old shrine in Tell Edfu, Egypt, still puzzles archaeologists, it is hoped that by deciphering the hieroglyphs written upon the limestone, the mystery may one day be closer to being solved.