Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Denderah

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DENDERAH, an Arab village in Upper Egypt, about 28 miles north of Thebes, marking the site and preserving the name of the ancient city of Tentyra, which was the capital of the Tentyrite nome and the seat of a famous temple dedicated to Athor, the Egyptian Venus. The temple, which is remarkable as the first well-preserved and unencumbered building of the kind to be seen on a voyage up the Nile, lies about a mile and a half from the left bank of the river, within a square inclosure formed by four crude-brick walls, each 1000 feet in length, and entered by means of a stone-built gateway, adorned with sculptures representing Domitian and Trajan engaged in acts of worship. The portico of the temple is about 135 feet in width, and is architecturally one of the richest and most beautiful structures of its class. It is supported by 24 columns, four deep, nearly 50 feet in height, and having a diameter of more than 7 feet at the thickest part. The capitals have sculptured on each of their four sides a full face of Athor, crowned by a small shrine or temple. The sculptures, which are of less merit than the architec ture, represent offerings made by some of the earlier Coesars; and on the ceiling are various mystical subjects, probably of an astronomical import, and the famous quadrangular zodiac, which will be referred to again in the latter part of this article. Passing through the back wall of the portico (which was at one time the front wall of the temple) the visitor enters a hall supported by three columns on each side, with cup-shaped capitals beneath those formed by the temple-crowned faces of Athor; and thence, pro ceeding right onwards through two similar halls, he reaches the sanctuary, which is isolated by a passage running all round. On each side of the temple are many small apart ments, and two entrance-ways from the exterior, as well as singular inclined passages in the walls, two of which are entered from the sides of the portico. All the chambers and passages, except the two last mentioned, are profusely covered with sculptures and inscriptions of a religious character, chiefly depicting and narrating the piety of the sovereigns by whom the temple was erected. The royal names have not always been filled in, but, where they have been sculptured, they are generally those of the last Cleopatra, and Csesarion, her son by Julius Cassar. A staircase on the left-hand side of the second chamber, behind the portico, conducts to the roof of the temple. Here are a sort of chapel and some small chambers, one of which is very interesting, because its sculptures relate to the story of Osiris. The exterior of the temple is as completely covered with sculptures as the interior. Among the figures represented there are those of Cleopatra and Csesarion; but they cannot be supposed to bear any re semblance, since they belong not alone to a conventional art, but almost to its lowest period. There are two smaller temples within the same inclosure as the great temple of Athor, one dedicated to Isis in the thirty-first year of Augustus, and the other usually known as the Typhoniiim, from the representations of Typhon on the capitals of its columns, but probably connected with the worship of Athor.

The name Denderah, in Coptic Tentore, and in Greek Teniyra, or Tentyris, used to be regarded as equivalent to Thy-n Athor, " the abode of Athor;" but, according to an hypothesis started by Brugsch, and since proved by the investigations of Diimichen, it is now explained as " the Land of the Hippopotamus " (Tan-ta-rer), in allusion to the use of this animal as a symbol of the goddess Isis, who is regularly identified with Athor in the Denderah inscrip tions. The sacred name was An, and a list is still extant of 136 substitutes or epilheta ornantia, such as the house of enlightened souls, the house of gladness, the house of the weeping and laughing of the sun-god Ha. Though, as already indicated, the present temples of Denderah belong to the latest period of Egyptian art, the original occupation of the site for sacred buildings dates from the earliest times. According to an inscription discovered and published by Diimichen, who spent three months in personal explora tion of the ruins, a restoration of the temple was effected >y Thothmes III. of the 18th dynasty, in keeping with au ncient plan belonging to the reign of Chufu, which had een found, in the time of Pheops, " in the interior of a wall of the Southern House."

The people of Tentyra were remarkable for their hostility o the crocodile and its worshippers; and in their attacks n the reptile they displayed so much audacity and skill bat the Romans in the time of Strabo brought a number f them over to Italy as a new attraction for the amphitheatre. In modern times the name of Denderah has become especially famous on account of the two designs known respectively as the circular and the quadrangular zodiac, which have been the subject of the most elaborate iscussion among Egyptologists. The former was disovered by General Desaix about the end of last century, nd at length in 1820 removed by M. Lelorrain to Paris, vhere it was purchased by the Government for 150,000 rancs, and deposited in the Bibliotheque Imperiale; the atter, first observed by M. Dupuis, a member of the French ommission, is still in its original position, as, instead of ccupying a comparatively small and portable disk, it orms, as already indicated, the decoration of two extremities of the temple portico, and thus consists of two orresponding halves. Copies of both the zodiacs have requently been made, and are easily accessible in F. C.,auth's Les Zodiaques de Denderah, Munich, 1865, a nemoir in which he maintains that both designs are commemorative calendars of the Greco-Roman period.

See also Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians; Letronne, Observations ur I objct dcs representations zodiacalcs de I antiquite, Paris, 1824; lalma, Examcn et explications dcs Zodiaques tfgypticnncs, 1822; .epsius's Zeitschrift fur ^rjyptische Sprachc und Altcr/humsknnde, mssiin; Chabas, Sur I antiquite de Dendcruh; and especially Dlunichen's Neucste MMhtilungen mis Acgypten, and Bnuurkunde ier Tcmpelanlayen von Denderah, 1864.