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Dendera – The Temple of Hathor

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Hathor Temple : outstanding preservation

60 km north of Luxor, the Hathor Temple is located in the small city of Dendera. Hathor is the mother and feeder goddess. Its temple is one of the most well preserved of all Ancient Egypt. Made of sandstone and limestone, its construction is attributed to King Ptolemee XII (also called Neo Dionysos) in the 1st century BC. Still having its enclosure (even if it has been restored) in its entirety, its rooftop, its crypts and all of its columns, Hathor Temple is also one of the most decorated temples in Egypt. Let’s put it simply: if you have the chance to visit this temple, wherever you look, your mind will be blown away!
Egypte - Dendera - Le Temple d'Hathor
Egypte - Dendera - Le Temple d'Hathor

After passing the monumental gate, you will find yourself in the imposing hypostyle room. In this room, the ceiling is supported by 18 columns in sistrum shape, Hathor’s favorite musical instrument. Each pillar is decorated at its top with four faces of the goddess representing the four cardinal points and the four aspects of the goddess according to the mythology :

1) Hathor, the lion goddess who fights Sun’s ennemies
2) Goddess of love and rebirth
3) Protector of love and home, the feeder goddess
4) Youth and beauty

Baptized by Horus and Thot

A lot of reliefs decorate the walls of this room. You can see many scenes like the baptism of the king by the gods Horus and Thot themselves, the gift of two sistrums in order to dissipate the wrath and the violence of the world, the sacrifice of the oryx and the crocodile to make vital and discoordinated pulsions sacred or the erection of Min’s mat, referring to the creative virility. The ceiling has also numerous ornaments like the sun’s 12 hours journey, mothered by the goddess Nout and then swallowed at dusk.
Egypte - Dendera - Le Temple d'Hathor
Egypte - Dendera - Le Temple d'Hathor

Going deeper in the Temple will lead you to the Room of Apparition in which Hathor appeared to the initiates, as a statue in a boat. This room is connected to 6 smaller ones, both in pair based on their purpose:

The Laboratory and the Room of the Treasure, where alchemists work
The Chamber of the Treasure and the Chamber of the Nil, where the sacred time and season’s divine rhythm are measured.
The Chamber of offerings linked to the room of offerings

After the Room of Apparition, the Room of Gifts is the place where gifts were given on altars. Then, you go enter the Holy of Holies where the Naos stands (much like Aswan’s Elephantine Island), throne where the divinity sits. The granite Naos has a superb conservation status and questions the technical means used for its completion. The Holy of Holies represents the human space where rituals are celebrated by the Pharaoh. In this place, two other chapels are reachable.
Egypte - Dendera - Le Temple d'Hathor
A simple question comes to mind: how Egyptians managed to enlighten themselves when they went down those Crypts? Guides will automatically answer “with torches”. Yes, but no marks of smoke could be found on any of the crypts ceilings. Moreover, the oxygen rate is way too low to keep a fire alive in this underground. It is the very same problem as in Saqqara’s Serapeum… But let’s get back to the lightbulbs that strangely remind of Bagdad Batteries. According to the traditional theory, these lamps are simple lotus flower to which a snake was added in reference to Osiris. These lamps are usually dedicated to Osiris’ cult, and no one is looking for any other explanation…

Electricity at the age of Egyptians ?

Alternative theories propose that the lotus flower is in fact an electric wire as the interior of the lamp would be the conductor. Also, why is the lotus flower shown this way, with a gigantic bulb? We note, in these representations, the presence of god Thot handling knives, which is symbol of danger. Why would a simple lotus flower be dangerous? Also, the snake facing the knives shifts away from them while the two in the two other “Dendera light bulbs” stay still.

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