A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Conservation Work Reveals Ceiling of Egypt’s Temple of Esna
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
CAIRO, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that a team of Egyptian and German researchers has removed layers of soot and dirt from the ceiling of Luxor’s Temple of Esna to reveal images of the 12 Babylonian zodiac signs; the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars; deities; animals; and depictions of constellations known as the seven arrows that the ancient Egyptians used to measure time. “It is the first time to see these inscriptions and reliefs in Esna Temple,” said Hisham El-Leithy of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Christian Leitz of the University of Tübingen explained that the Greeks likely introduced the Babylonian zodiac to Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, from about 300 to 30 B.C. Construction of the temple, which was dedicated to the ram-headed god Khnum and his divine consorts, was completed during the Roman period, around A.D. 250. Images from the Babylonian zodiac became popular on Egyptian tombs, sarcophagi, astrological texts, and horoscopes, but they have rarely been found in Egyptian temples, Leitz concluded. To read about the Egyptian temples of Philae in Nubia, go to "When Isis Was Queen."
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