'Creation of the cosmos in Dendera.'
Some of the most famous images from the Hathor Temple at Dendera can be found in the crypt beneath its southern wall. The reliefs here portray human figures next to bulb-like objects reminiscent of oversized light bulbs.
What we witness here is the creation of the cosmos, in the from of an elongated bulb. It springs from a lotus-flower on a boat, the lotus being the first object that floated on the primordial sea, according to Egyptian cosmology. From the flower also appears a snake, which is equated to the rising sun and the god Harsomptus and which is enveloped by the cosmos. Harsomptus is also present in human form, standing behind the bulb and his ka (living essence) is kneeling beneath the bulb.
In the representation on the left the cosmos-bulb with its sun-snake is supported by the God of infinity, Heh, kneeling on a square base. The bulb on the right is supported by a Djed pillar with arms, symbol of stability and continuity.
A similar sun-snake emerging from a lotus flower can be found on the astronomical ceiling of the outer hypostyle hall (see pictures 29527 and 29528.)
It is in this crypt that the golden statue of the ba (soul) of Hathor (mother of Harsomptus) was kept. And it was probably here that the sacred procession started on the eve of the first day of the New Year, bringing the statue of the goddess to the roof of the temple, just as the newly created sun rose from the abyss on the First Day.
This part of the Dendera Temple was built during the later Ptolemaic period (first century BC). Photo Mick Palarczyk.