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Dendera's Temple of the Goddess Hathor

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Qina, Egypt.

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Similar to other temple sites in Egypt, Dendera marks the location of a very old holy place. An indication of the antiquity of the site is given by the astronomical alignment of the main temple to Gamma Draconis before 5000BC. Early texts refer to a Pre-dynastic temple which was rebuilt during the Old Kingdom and further developed by New Kingdom pharaohs. The present structure dates to the Greek and Roman periods, with the sanctuary built by the Ptolemies in the 1st century BC and the Hypostyle Hall by the Romans in the 1st century AD. Dendera was the primary shrine for the worship of Hathor, a patroness of earthly love, a goddess of healing, and a great feminine source of nourishment.

Recent studies indicate that the temple of Dendera had several interrelated functions. It was a venerated place of pilgrimage where miraculous cures were caused by the goddess; it was a hospital where different physiological, psychological and magical therapies were practiced; and it was the scene of great processions and festivals throughout the astrological cycle. Enclosed within the Dendera complex are a sacred lake, a temple of the goddess Isis, and a sanatorium where divine healing was practiced. Within the main temple it is interesting to study the beautiful and highly detailed astrological calendars carved and painted upon the ceilings. Visitors may wonder about the blackened condition of some ceilings in the temple. When Napolean's scholars first visited Dendera they found a centuries-old Arab village established inside the temple; the villagers' cooking fires had blackened the ceilings over the centuries.

Photo: Temple of the Goddess Hathor, Dendera

More about Dendera.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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