'Setting of the sun in Hathor Temple at Dendera.'
A winged setting sun is swallowed by the sky goddess Nut on the astronomical ceiling in the outer hypostyle hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera. The ceiling consists of seven separate strips but here we are looking at the southern end of the EASTERNMOST STRIP. The entire strip is enveloped by the outstretched body of the sky goddess Nut but we only see the upper part of her body in this picture. The wave pattern on Nut's dress (visible in the left lower corner) symbolizes the cosmic river on which the sun will travel during the night.
On the left we see the beginning of the two registers which make up the rest of this strip.
The upper register begins with a standing woman with a star on her head; she is the goddess of the first hour of the night. The bull-headed god named 'Horus-Bull' personifies the planet Saturn. The falcon-headed god standing on a goose personifies a star or constellation north of the Ecliptic (the astronomical location is known from the famous round zodiac of Dendera which is kept in the Louvre).
The lower register has a falcon-headed god and an ibis-headed god in boats. These are the decanal stars nr 18 and 19.
In fact, the lower register of the easternmost strip is entirely filled with figures who are standing or sitting in boats. These are the decans, 36 stars or star groups near the ecliptic whose rise or transit could be used to tell the time during the night. Eventually they were also used by astronomers as place-markers in the sky to divide up the Ecliptic in equal portions. Decans first appear during the Middle Kingdom on the inside of coffin lids, providing the deceased with his own private start clock. Unfortunately, during the subsequent centuries many different lists of decanal stars were developed and very few of these stars can be identified on a modern star map. The decans in this register were listed by Neugebauer and Parker as stars 18 till 35 of the Tanis decan family. Stars 1 till 17 and 36 can be found on the westernmost ceiling strip.
For an overview of the ceiling strip of which a detail is portrayed in this photo, see picture 29526.
This part of the Dendera Temple was built during the Roman period (first century AD). Photo Mick Palarczyk.