The sculptured bas relief of the star map was found carved into a sandstone slab mounted in the ceiling of the portico of the Osiris chapel at
In 1802, during Napoleon’s occupation of
The sandstone slab was removed from the ceiling of the chapel by master mason Jean Baptiste Leloraine using masonry drills, chisels, saws, jacks and, according to one report, even explosives. The zodiac of Dendera was transported to
In modern days, visitors to
The artwork of the bas relief is of a very high standard. As previously mentioned, the original slab was sandstone, a more difficult medium for fine sculpture than limestone which forms the basis for the beautiful bas relief sculptures in the temple at Abydos and in other sites.
The night sky is represented by a disc, held up by four female figures assisted by falcon-headed beings. The thirty-six divisions around the circumference each represent 10 days totalling the 360 days of the Egyptian year. The additional five days making up the full year were always considered to be the days “outside the year” won by the sky goddess Nut. The constellations within the circle include the signs of the zodiac, most of which are seen as they are today. Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn are readily recognized, whereas other forms are more Egyptian: Aquarius is shown as Hapy, the god of the
Two eclipses are represented exactly where and when they occurred. The solar eclipse of 7 March 51 BC is depicted as the goddess Isis holding a baboon (the lunar god Thoth) by its tail, signifying her attempt to stop the moon from hiding the sun. The lunar eclipse of 25 September 52 BC is represented by a udjat-eye. The five planets (in addition to Earth) that were known at the time are associated with certain signs of the zodiac. Venus, the morning star is behind Aquarius; Jupiter is near Cancer; Mars the red planet is directly above Capricorn; Mercury and Saturn are shown in this particular configuration that occurs only about once every thousand years. It has been dated between 15 June and 15 August 50 BC.
It is clear that a date in mid 50BC had particular significance, but what that significance may have been has been lost over time. One credible suggestion is that it may have been the date of the completion of the construction of
The Dendara zodiac was removed and transported to
Egypt’s claim on the Dendara Zodiac
It would seem that
The French may claim that by exhibiting the zodiac in the
What would the Supreme Council of Antiquities in