Setting of the sun in Hathor Temple at Dendera.
"A winged setting sun is swallowed by the sky goddess Nut on the astronomical ceiling in the outer hypostyle hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera. The ceiling consists of seven separate strips but here we are looking the southern end of the WESTERNMOST STRIP. The entire strip is enveloped by the outstretched body of the sky goddess Nut but we see only the upper part of her body in this picture. After swallowing the sun it will travel through her body and she will give birth to it in the morning at the other end of the strip.
On the right we see the beginning of the two registers which make up the rest of this ceiling strip.
In the upper register the two standing goddesses who have a star above their head are personifications of the first and second hour of the night. The goat-headed fish between them is the zodiac sign Capricorn.
There are six zodiac signs depicted in the entire westernmost strip and the other six can be found on the easternmost ceiling strip of the hall. These signs are of Babylonic-Greek origin and are not found in Egypt before it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.
The bull-headed bird above the fish-goat personifies the planet Saturn.
The god in the boat is decanal star number 17. In fact, the lower register of the westernmost strip is entirely filled with figures who are standing or sitting in boats. These are the decans, 36 stars or star groups near the ecliptic whose rise or transit could be used to tell the time during the night. Eventually they were also used by astronomers as place-markers in the sky to divide up the Ecliptic in equal portions. Decans first appear during the Middle Kingdom on the inside of coffin lids, providing the deceased with his own private start clock. Unfortunately, during the subsequent centuries many different lists of decanal stars were developed and very few of these stars can be identified on a modern star map. The decans in this register were listed by Neugebauer and Parker as stars 1 till 17 and 36 of the Tanis decan family. Stars 18 till 35 can be found on the easternmost ceiling strip.
This part of the Dendera Temple was built during the Roman period (first century AD).”
Photo Mick Palarczyk.