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Hathor Temple Hathor Temple
Photo by Raymon Kondos © 2009 Your Egypt

Dendara is few kilometers to the west of Qena. The main attraction of Dendara is the temple dedicated to HathorWho is this deity?, goddess of love, music and dancing. The site was first used by Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom but was later reused and modified by Ptolemies and Romans.

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The approaching path is bounded by two fountains that date to the Roman era. The enclosure wall of the temple itself belongs to the Romans.
The whole complex was originally dedicated to different deities but the temple of Hathor is the only one survived. Though evidences tell us about early dynastic activity, the Hathor temple is actually built by Ptolemies and Romans, perhaps over an early temple.

An interesting relief on the exterior of the temple to the south shows famous queen Cleopatra VII with her child Caesarion, from Julius Caesar, as she presents offerings to the deity Hathor.

The hypostyleWhat does it mean? hall has 24 columns with the capitals formed of the shape of Hathor's head. The ceiling is divided into sections bearing beautiful colored astronomical drawings of vultures, winged sun disc, stars and figures of NutWho is this deity?, Egyptian goddess of sky and heavens, extending her hands and feet on the ends of the world. There are also signs of the Egyptian Zodiac and a representation of the time.

Next is the inner hall of appearance or the small hypostyle hall. It is surrounded by six rooms:
Treasury room for holding metals - A Nile room for priests to bring water from the Nile that is open to outside the temple - Room with direct access to inside the temple to make it easier for the priests to move without the need to pass through the main door - Storage and lab room for perfumes and incense - Harvest room - Libation room.

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Next is the hall of offerings where priests were presenting sacrifices to the deities. The hall is lightened by 4 ceiling vents. At the eastside of the hall there are staircases that lead to the roof. Beyond is the hall of EnneadWhat does it mean? where statues of gods and kings were stored to the season of ceremonies.

The sanctuary lies at the end. The entrance was of course restricted to the Pharaoh or priests on his behalf. Around the sanctuary there is a corridor linked to 11 chapels dedicated to a variety of deities. The roof has suites reserved for the rituals, with wall depictions featuring OsirisWho is this deity?, god of underworld, the dead and fertility.

The IseumWhat does it mean?:
This is a small temple dedicated to IsisWho is this deity? to the south of the main temple. It probably dates to the era of Roman Emperor Augustus. It comprises several rooms and has scenes of goddess Hathor suckling the child HorusWho is this deity?.

Sacred Lake:
This was the water source for the priests required for their rituals. The lake is southwest to the main temple. It's rectangular in shape and has stairs on

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each of its four sides.

SanatoriumWhat does it mean?:
Some distance north of the lake is the Sanatorium where the priests were doing their magical spills to heal the patients.

Nectanebo's Birth HouseWhat does it mean? (MammisiWhat does it mean?):
The Birth House was begun by Nectanebo I of the 30th dynasty and was later finished by the Ptolemies and the Romans.
This was to celebrate the labor of Hathor to her child, the Pharaoh, as she was considered mother of the kings and in turn they were imbibing divinity from her. It has colonnadedWhat does it mean? court connected with screen-walls and other regular rooms. It's located north of the Sanatorium.

Coptic Church:
The next site to the north is the ancient Coptic Church dated to the 4th or 5th century. It's one of the earliest in Egypt and it provides a good source for scholars studying Christianity in the country.

Roman Mammisi:
To the extreme north near the gates is another Birth House. This one was built by Roman Emperor Trajan and his successors.

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