Hathor Temple of Dendera

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Situated just outside the town of Qena, Dendera is a site of the remarkably well-preserved Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor known for its beautiful wall-reliefs and sculptures.

Among the most important Egypt’s temples may also be counted Dendera, which provides examples of a particularly rich variety of later temple features. Dendera is situated just outside the town of Qena close to Luxor in the region of Middle Egypt. The whole complex covers some 40,000 square meters and is surrounded by a brick wall. The features in the complex include: Hathor temple, Temple of the birth of Isis, Sacred Lake, Sanatorium, Mammisi of Nectanebo II, Christian Basilica, Roman Mammisi, a Bark shine, Gateways of Domitian & Trajan and the Roman Kiosk. The Chapel of the New Year is situated just to the right of the Sanctuary in the Temple of Hathor. It was opened only once each year during the New Year festival. There is also a necropolis that includes tombs of the Early Dynastic Period, the end of the Old Kingdom and the 1st Intermediate Period. On the west end of the site are brick-vaulted catacombs of Late Period animal burials, primarily birds and dogs. Among the many other structures here are the remains of a 5th-century Christian basilica, an excellent example of early Coptic Church architecture. There is also a sanatorium, where pilgrims could bathe in the sacred waters or take holy water.
The main temple namely Hathor is oriented, as usual, toward the Nile and it is one of the best preserved temples in all Egypt. The temple construction is estimated at the 1st century BC. Subsequent additions were added in Roman times by the Roman emperor Trajan. Hathor was the goddess of peace, love, happiness, music, and dance. The stone steps of the spiral staircase are time worn but still used to ascend to the roof, where there is a small chapel decorated with Hathor-headed columns. Depictions of Cleopatra VI which appear on temple walls are good examples Ptolemaic Egyptian art. The sculptured Dendera zodiac, a widely known Egyptian relief was removed from the temple to France in 1820.

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