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The Temple of Hathor at Dendera, on the Nile north of Luxor, is one of the latest Egyptian temples. Dedicated to the wife of the god Horus, it was built in Roman times and its decorations include Roman emperors alongside Egyptian gods. Along with Abydos further north, Dendera is a popular day trip from Luxor. . The Temple of Hathor was built between 30 BC and 14 AD, making it one of the youngest Egyptian temples. However, it was built on top of an older temple, the date of which remains unclear. It is probable that the design of the later temple is based on that of the older one. Dendera was an ancient healing center, comparable to a Greek Asklepion or the Catholic Lourdes Hathor, wife of Horus, was the goddess of the sky, fertility and healing, and the rituals performed by her priestesses included the use of a sistrum, or rattle. What to See The Temple of Hathor is boxy in shape and surrounded by a portico with thick columns and walls about half as tall as the roof. There are many reliefs of figures and rituals on the exterior of the temple, including pharaohs, Egyptian deities, and Roman emperors. Inside, the most fascinating sight is the roof chapel dedicated to Osiris, which contains a sundial and circular zodiac. The zodiac, a replica of the original that is now in the Louvre, consists of two superimposed constellations. One is centered on the geographical north pole, the other on the true north pole. An axis passes through Pisces, confirming what we know from archaeological evidence: it was built in the age of Pisces, just over 2,000 years ago. Interestingly, two hieroglyphs on the edge of the zodiac seem to indicate that another axis passed through the beginning of the age of Taurus (about 4,000 BC; a thousand years before dynastic Egypt). This may be a clue to the great age of the first temple that stood here. Among the many other structures here are the remains of a 5th-century Christian basilica, an excellent example of early Coptic church architecture. There is also a sanatorium, where pilgrims could bathe in the sacred waters or take holy water - which had been run over magical texts to infuse it with power - home with them.
For the Ancient Egyptians, Abydos was one of the holiest sites in the world. As the cult center of the god Osiris and gateway to the underworld (believed to lie under the nearby hills), it was a popular place of pilgrimage and burial. Today, Abydos is a large archaeological site in northern Upper Egypt, often visited in conjunction with nearby Dendera. Today the pilgrims are New Age devotees following in the footsteps of Dorothy Eady (d. 1981), who believed herself to be the reincarnation of an Abydos temple priestess. The main monument at Abydos is the Temple of Seti I, built around 1300 BC by Seti and his son Ramses II. It is especially notable for its fine reliefs, considered among the best of the New Kingdom. Abydos has been used as a burial site and sacred site since predynastic history. It was originally sacred to the jackal-headed god Wepwawet, who "opened the way" to the realm of the dead. Anhur appeared in the XI Dynasty at Abydos; Anubis rose to importance in the Middle Kingdom then vanished in the XVIII Dynasty. The worship of Osiris in his various forms appeared at Abydos in the XXII Dynasty and became increasingly important, until the entire site was considered sacred primarily to him by the XIX Dynasty. The Temple of Seti I at Abydos was begun during the reign of Pharoah Seti I (1318-1304 BC) and completed by his son Ramses II (1304-1237 BC) during the XIX Dynasty of the New Kingdom. The temple represents an artistic revival of Old Kingdom forms and was part of Seti's attempt to consolidate the Ramessid dynasty after the losses under Akhenaten. By identifying himself with the great gods and previous rulers of Egypt, Seti added legitmacy to a ruling family that had been mere warriors just a few generations ago. Pharaoh Merneptah added a great Hypogeum of Osiris to the temple of Seti. The final building to be added was the Temple of Nectanebo I in the XXX dynasty, but various additions to the site were made through the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Thanks to its impressive carvings, the Temple of Seti I has been a tourist attraction since the 1830s. Abydos began to be excavated in the early 20th century by Flinders Petrie and excavations still continue today. In more recent times, Abydos was the home of New Age practitioner Dorothy Eady from 1946 until her death in 1981. Mrs. Eady believed herself to be a reincarnation of an Abydos temple priestess and lover of Seti I, was known as Umm Seti (Mother of Seti), experienced trances and uttered prophecies. More details can be had in her book Abydos: The Holy City in Ancient Egypt and the biography by Jonathan Cott, The Search for Omm Sety.
Esna is about 485 miles (776 Km) south of Cairo and lies on the west bank of the Nile. It was the ancient city of Senat, called Latopolis by the Greeks. The "city of the fish" where the Nile perch was worshipped. Today it is very famous for its river barrage and as a result, it is a stop over for most of the cruise boats. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the centre of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat, through the local market. To reach the Temple you have to descend a flight of steps, but be careful! They are very steep! The admission fee is EGP 35. The Temple is dedicated to the ram headed God Khnum, the God of creation. Tuthmosis III laid the foundations of the Temple in the 18th Dynasty, but Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors, from 40-250 A.D, completed it, and their names are recorded all over the Temple walls. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns, with 24 pillars, beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. The walls are covered with 4 rows of relief's, showing Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes, sacrificing to the God of the Temple. On both sides of the Temple entrance there are chambers that were used by the priests and keepers of the Temple as storerooms. Flanking the entrance to each room, you will notice the Emperor Trajan, carried in a litter by six Priests, with jackal and hawk masks of the Gods. The most interesting scenes in this Temple are the ones you will find on the roof, which is decorated with astronomical representations. On the left side of the gateway of the Temple you can see the sky Goddess Nut, the Dog Star, Orion's belt, and Alpha Draconis (or the Dragon Star). On the western wall of the fašade of the Temple you can see the God Horus, God of victory, and the God Khnum, dragging a net full of fish from the Nile, as well as relief's of birds. Significantly at the foot of this representation is the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded, completed by the Roman Emperor Dios in 250 A.D
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