Dendera

3d model and reconstruction

Dendera

We show here the walls of Hator during the Roman age with specific attention paid to the topography reconstruction of the time, with the fencing and structures which led to the Nile. Around the walls were houses and cultivated fields because the area close to the river was very fertile.

Of fundamental importance for the purposes of our reconstruction, apart from the archaeological remains, were the tables and drawings in the Description de l’Égypte, published in Paris between 1809 and 1829.

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Short history of

Dendera

During the pharaoh period, the city of Iunet Tantere was the capital of the of the VI nome in Upper Egypt. The ancient name gave rise to the Greek abbreviated form (Tèntyris) and to the modern arab version (Dendera, or Dendara).

Its remains are found on the western bank of the Nile, more or less at the height of the city of Qena, where there is a wide bend in the river. Three rows of crude bricks were originally consecrated to the deities of the area: Hathor, her spouse Horus of Edfu and their son Ihi. Only the walls of Hathor, the most important, are preserved. The Horo walls, to the west no longer exist; as for those of Ihi, to the east, only a decorated monumental door is left.

The temple of Hathor in Dendera stands at the centre of a large sacred area, delimited by a row of crude brick walls, nearly intact and almost square. The main entrance was to the north: the monumental door, made of sandstone, dates back to the age of emperors Domitianus (1st cent. A.D.) and Traianus (2nd cent. A.D.). A second door is on the eastern side: it was erected by the emperors Augustus and Tiberius (1st cent. A.D.). Within the row of walls you find the temple of Hathor and, perpendicular to it, the Roman mammisi, a coptic church and the mammisi of Nectanebo I of the XXX dynasty; then, on the western side, you find of the Hathor temple, the sacred lake and the sanatorium, for those who went to sleep in the temple and then asked the priests in charge of this to interpret their dreams. To the south stood the small temple of Isis, also known as “southern Temple”.

The temple of Hathor is made of sandstone is oriented towards the Nile; in this point the river flows from east to west, therefore the entrance is on the northern side and the orientation is only “symbolically” to the east, as usually happens. The courtyard in front of the temple – with the rows of columns and the pylons of the nothern door – was never completed. The temple was erected in the 1st century B.C. under the last Ptolemaic ruler and while Augustus was prince, on the site where, probably since the Old Kingdom, another building stood which was expanded during later periods. The decorations were completed by Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero (I cent. A.D.). It consists of a first large hypostyle hall, followed by a second one which was used as vestibule. The second ipostila room, flanked by six small warehouses – three on each side -, led to the innermost rooms in the temple: one for the offerings, another vestibule and the sacrarium (sancta sanctorum) which contained a tabernacle (naos) including the statue of the goddess. A corridor around the sacrarium linked 11 small rooms which were used as chapels or warehouses. The walls of the various rooms are completely covered with reliefs and inscriptions. From the offering room two staircases lead to the temple ceiling. Also the external walls of the building are decorated.