Denderah (anc. Tentyra), a ruined town of Upper Egypt, near the left bank of the Nile, in lat. 26° 10' N., Ion. 32° 37' E., 40 m. E. S. E. of Girgeh. Its antiquities are among the most interesting and complete in Egypt. The principal building is a magnificent temple, enclosed with some other edifices, in a space 1,000 ft. square, by a wall of sun-dried brick, 15 ft. thick and 35 ft. high. It was dedicated to the goddess Athor or Aphrodite, or, as some believe, to Isis. A richly sculptured gateway faces it in the enclosing wall, on which the emperors Domitian and Trajan, whose names occur in accompanying inscriptions, are represented in the act of worship. The portico of the temple is 135 ft. wide, and has 24 columns arranged four deep, each 32 ft. high and nearly 22 ft, in circumference. The capitals have a full face of the presiding divinity on each of their four sides; the architrave is covered like the portal with sculptures representing a religious procession, and the projecting fillet of the cornice bears an inscription in Greek setting forth that the portico was added to the temple in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in honor of the goddess Aphrodite. On the ceiling of the portico is the famous basso-rilievo, at first supposed to represent the signs of the zodiac and to be of very remote antiquity, discovered in 1799 by the French savants under Bonaparte; and on the ceiling of one of the inner chambers was a small and somewhat similar planisphere, which was removed to Paris in 1821. But the supposed zodiac lacks the sign of Cancer, and all scholars are now agreed that it is not older than the Ptolemies, and that a zodiac was not used under the Pharaohs. In the portico or on the front of the temple may be distinguished the names of Augustus, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Ptolemy Caesarion, and his mother Cleopatra. The last two are also represented by rude portraits.
The interior consists of three large halls, an isolated sanctuary, and several small chambers. Rows of columns stand in some of the rooms, displaying on their capitals the budding lotus, and all the apartments but two are profusely sculptured. The roof is flat and formed of oblong masses of stone. Small holes cut in the ceiling or sides admitted the light, and some of the rooms on the ground floor were lighted only by the few rays which found their way through apertures communicating with the rooms above. There are two smaller temples of Roman date near that of Athor, one dedicated to Isis.
Ruins at Denderah.