Dendara is few kilometers to the west of Qena.
The main attraction of Dendara is the temple dedicated to Hathor,
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
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
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.
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 Nut,
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.
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 Ennead
where statues of gods and kings were stored to the season of
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 Osiris,
god of underworld, the dead and fertility.
This is a small temple dedicated to Isis
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 Horus.
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
each of its four sides.
Some distance north of the lake is the Sanatorium where the
priests were doing their magical spills to heal the patients.
Nectanebo's Birth House
The Birth House was begun by Nectanebo
I of the 30th
dynasty and was later finished by the Ptolemies and the
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 colonnaded
court connected with screen-walls and other regular rooms.
It's located north of the Sanatorium.
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
in the country.
To the extreme north near the gates is another Birth House.
This one was built by Roman Emperor Trajan and his successors.