Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt’s Dendera Temple complex completed

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As part of a plan by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to preserve the Dendera Temple complex in Upper Egypt’s Qena and develop the area around it into an open-air museum, the second phase of restoration and development has been completed. The work includes the restoration and cleaning of the great hall, the entrance façade, and the birth kiosk.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities




The Temple of Hathor at Dendera contains a number of small crypts on its eastern, southern, and western sides. These are thought to have served as warehouses or treasuries for ritual furnishings, sacred and ceremonial equipment, and the divine images used in celebrating various feasts and holidays.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has said that three of the 12 crypts found beneath the temple have been opened. The crypts are small, however, and they likely did not serve as spaces of formal rituals.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

The crypts can only be accessed through small openings and have low ceilings and walls decorated with ancient Egyptian scenes. Only one of the crypts was previously open to the public. The rooftop of the temple was also not previously accessible to visitors, but after restoration, visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of Qena from the top of the building for the first time.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities




Abdel-Hakim Al-Sagheer, head of the Dendara Temple said that the temple conservation project had originally started in 2005, but had stopped in 2011 and then resumed in 2017.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

In 2019, in collaboration with a French archaeological mission, blocks, stelae and statues that were uncovered in the area and left in situ since their initial discovery were restored and put on newly fabricated mounts in the open-air area of the temple. The displays include artefacts from the area’s store galleries.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Newly fabricated blocks have been placed in the open courtyard at the entrance of the temple, where a collection of statues of ancient Egyptian deities has been installed. Among these are statues of the goddess Hathor, the god Bes, and the falcon god Nekhbet Waawet.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities




The Dendera Temple, one of the best-preserved ancient Egyptian temples, was built mainly of sandstone, and was uncovered in the mid-19th century by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

In its present form, the Temple of Dendera is largely Ptolemaic and Roman, its reconstruction having taken place under the Greek Ptolemies, the last dynasty of ancient Egypt (305-30 BCE), and completed some 185 years later under the Roman emperor Tiberius. In dedicating a temple to Hathor, the Ptolemies honoured one of Egypt’s most popular deities.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Under Greek and Roman rule, Egyptian temples continued to have mammisi (birth houses), and the surviving mammisi at Dendera was reconstructed by the Roman Emperor Augustus near the ruins of the one built by the Pharaoh Nectanebo and is adorned with reliefs added by the Roman Emperor Trajan relating to the birth of the god Horus.

Second restoration phase of Upper Egypt's Dendera Temple complex completed
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

It was converted into a church in the fifth century CE, and a Christian basilica was built in the area between it and the original birth house of Nectanebo.

Author: Nevine El-Aref | Source: Ahram Online [March 03, 2021]

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1 COMMENT

  1. LOOK AT the nearby Temple of Seti I! In his book Om Sety: The Search for Eternal Love, the author describes in an interview with Dorothy Eady her accidental discovery of of a huge treasure corridor accessed by a ramp on the roof of the temple, which she fell down after hitting a stone which opened the huge offerings storage vault in the wall of the temple (like at Dendera). She was ill at the time and and after seeing row upon row of statuary and gold offerings, she wandered out of the area and could not find her way back in. She immediately told the head archaeologist about her find, but the vault could not be located. If found she told Cott, it would be a discovery greater than the tomb of Tutankhamen. Dorothy had located the temple ramp used for the periodic airing of the temple treasures on the roof, if found again, it would be an easy 10 days work for a group camped on the roof to find that opening, and no excavation required. Consider as well the temples in the immediate area. The temple of Seti I apparently ceased active operation in the Late Period so that there was no major temple in the area until the Temple of Hathor was built a little further upriver during late Ptolemaic times. Why was it built? One theory might be that the temple priests saw an opportunity to catch the boatloads of pilgrims coming up the Nile and divert them to Dendera before they arrived at Karnak and Luxor further up river, and so that they could help the temple not only spiritually but economically. Archaeologists have found huge corridor-like storage spaces with remnants of gold offerings and are now investigating other storage areas in the temple. Now the closest temple to Dendera by land is the Seti temple. Could it be that the architects of the Hathor temple took their cue for designing storage areas from the storage area at Seti, and designed their new storage areas accordingly? Remember also, that the Temple of Hathor is the only temple known, so far, that had these corridor like storage areas. They are unique in Egypt. Or are they? Finally, imagine the bang for Egypt and tourism if such a discovery were made! They might have to put another wing on the Egyptian museum.

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