Senenmut’s tomb

Astronomical Ceiling from Chamber A, TT353

The astronomical ceiling from Senenmut's tomb

This image from the second tomb built by Senenmut leaves no doubt that ancient Egyptians had great knowledge of astronomy. The ceiling is divided into two sections representing the northern and the southern skies. The southern – upper part shown in the picture above – is decorated with a list of decanal stars, as well as constellations of the southern sky belonging to it like Orion and Sothis (Sopdet). Furthermore, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus are shown and associated deities who are traveling in small boats over the sky. Thus, the southern ceiling marks the hours of the night.

The northern – lower part – shows constellations of the northern sky with the large bear in the center. The other constellations could not be identified. On the right and left of it there are 8 or 4 circles shown and below them several deities each carrying a sun disk towards the center of the picture. The inscriptions associated with the circles mark the original monthly celebrations in the lunar calendar, whereas the deities mark the original days of the lunar month (after Meyer, 1982).

The astronomical ceiling is divided along its east-west axis by a text band composed of five registers. The central line which is wider than the other four registers bears together the titles of Hatshepsut and some titles as well as the name of Senenmut. The text reads from the right to the left :

“Live, Horus powerful of k#s, Two- Ladies flourishing of years, Horus-of-Gold divine of appearnances, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maat-ka-Ra, beloved of Amun-Ra, living; the sealbearer of the king of Lower Egypt (sD#wtj-bitj), the steward of Amun Senenmut, engendered of Ramose, justified, born of Hatnefret.

Dendera’s Zodiac

Dendera's ZodiacThe Egyptian Temple of Dendera, dedicated to the goddess Hathor, is thought to have been constructed by the Ptolemies in the first century BC, but on the site of an earlier temple. It contains two zodiacs: a rectangular zodiac, carved in the ceiling of the hypostyle hall, and a circular zodiac, about 8 feet across, found on the ceiling of a chapel on the temple roof.

The zodiacs have been the subject of great controversy and have been interpreted in many different ways. They were probably intended to record more than one important date.

Archeologists consider the ‘Circular Zodiac’ to have been crafted c 30 BC, and hence it is an Egyptian representation of the Greek astrological view.

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