The Zodiac of Dendara


denderazodiac

The Zodiac of Dendera decorated the ceiling of a chapel in the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, where the mysteries of the resurrection of the god Osiris were celebrated..

The vault of heaven is represented by a disc, held up by four women assisted by falcon-headed spirits. Thirty-six spirits or “decans” around the circumference symbolize the 360 days of the Egyptian year..

The constellations shown inside the circle include the signs of the zodiac, most of which are represented almost as they are today. Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn, for example, are easily recognizable, whereas others correspond to a more Egyptian iconography: Aquarius is represented as Hapy, the god of the Nile flood, pouring water from two vases.

The constellations of the northern sky, featured in the center, include the Great Bear (Ursa Major) in the form of a bull’s foreleg. A hippopotamus goddess, opposite Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, represents the constellation of the Dragon..

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