Most believe this to be of the New Kingdom. The relief, which John H. Rogers characterized as “the only complete map that we have of an ancient sky.
A detail of the Dendera Zodiac displayed at the Louvre, Paris.
I wonder if someone knowledgeable could comment about the seeming lack of precession by Sirius as viewed at the latitude of Dendera? Is it so? and if so what causes this?
The fact that Sirius seems to maintain its position relative to the position of the sun was a surprise to most scientists (aware of precession), when it was first noticed by the French scientific community following the Egyptian discoveries of Napoleon (and the Dendera Zodiac) in the early 1800’s. Physicist, astronomer, mathematician Jean-Baptiste Biot (21 April 1774 – 3 February 1862) proclaimed that this phenomenon was an oddity of the latitude and horizon around Dendera, meaning it just seemed as if Sirius was immune to the effects of precession.
The Dendera Zodiac was discovered on the ceiling of an ancient temple complex near the town of Dendera in Egypt by Napoleon’s invading army. It shows illustrations of the constellations of the zodiac – the band of stars in front of which the Sun passes during the year – with the illustrations sometimes the same as the western drawings of the constellations and sometimes different. A drawing of it was published in Paris in 1802 and created great interest among the city’s scientists. Most of them assumed that they were looking at a representation of the sky as on a planisphere at a particular date and set out to calculate that date.
Each year the Sun is in particular constellations during the summer and winter solstices and during the spring and autumn equinoxes. These constellations change over periods of thousands of year due to the precession of the equinoxes. This phenomenon in turn is caused by a slow wobble of the Earth’s axis that takes 26,000 years for a complete cycle. As a result every 2000 years or so, the Sun appears to have moved by one zodiac constellation at the time of each equinox and solstice.
Scientists such as Jean-Baptiste Biot took a guess at the location of the equinoxes and solstices depicted on the Dendera Zodiac and then calculated using precession how long ago it was created. A wide results were obtained that were generally many thousands of years in the past. These results were most upsetting to people with religious beliefs as the proposed times for the Zodiac were not in accord with the biblical time scale.
Egypt’s Dendera Temple
I find it a bit strange that the famous Dogon Tribe from Mali, Africa was not mentioned in this article, since most people in general growing up read and watched documentaries (translated in a few languages) about their ancient mysterious legend or fact regarding Sirius. I find the Star Sirius very interesting.-Sola