The Hypostyle Hall of Hator Temple in Dendera

3d model and reconstruction

The Hypostyle Hall of Hator Temple in Dendera

Apart from the photographs of the hall and the plans and reliefs, of fundamental importance for our reconstruction were the tables in the Description de l’Égypte, published in Paris between 1809 and 1829, showing the development of the friezes, ceilings and columns in the temple.

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The Hypostyle Hall of Hator Temple in Dendera

The large hypostyle hall of the Hathor temple in Dendera is supported by 24 “hathoric” columns. The front row, connected by six intercolumn walls, serves as façade. It is surmounted by a moulding at the centre of which the winged sun disc stands out. On the architrave there is a frieze divided into two specular halves by a head of the goddess Hathor: a series of deities bear gifts to Hathor and her spouse Horus with a hawk’s head.

More deities appeared in the trabeation of the granite door inserted in the facade. The external and internal surfaces of the intercolumns are decorated with offering scenes surrounded by inscriptions. Reliefs and inscriptions cover also the lateral wings and the remaining surfaces. The inside of the hall is particularly fascinating: in the half-darkness the face of Hathor, from the top of the columns, meets the eyes of the visitors wherever they turn; offering scenes framed by texts completely cover the walls and trunks of the columns.

The ceiling of the hypostyle hall in the Dendera temple is divided by the architraves into seven sections containing astronomic images. In the central sector there are flying vultures and various images of the sun. The symmetry on both sides is careful: the lunar phases (to the west) and the sun phases (to the east); the sun’s route during the day and night in the central rows; finally, in the external spaces, the sky goddess Nut, covered by the waves of the celestial ocean, with zodiac figures and boats with personified stars under her body, which covers the whole length of the hall wall. Nut gives birth to the morning sun whose nine rays meet the Dendera temple, shown like a building surmounted by a large head of Hathor; the winged evening sun, on the other hand, comes in from the goddess’ mouth.