Dendara: Temple of the Lady of Drunkenness – Egypt

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Hathor is a goddess of many things within the ancient Egyptian story.

She was known as “The Lady of the West” (the sun sets in the west); so the protector of the dead.

The approach to the Hathor Temple in Dendara.
The approach to the Hathor Temple in Dendara.

But also Hathor was a maternal figure and often portrayed as the Divine Mother of the reigning pharaoh.

ruined gate dendara hathor temple egypt

Moreover Hathor was also the babe of love and sensual pleasures, and of music and dancing.

pillar painted interior hathor dendara temple egypt
In sea of pillars. Note the single intact Hathor face (bottom-right) the rest had been defaced by early-Christians, as it later served as a church.
smoking pipe relief dendara hathor temple egypt
Pass that opium pipe (?) Outer wall sculpture that reminded me of Angkor Wat finery in Cambodia.

But to the everyday people, Hathor was known by a range of titles: “The Golden One”, “She of the Beautiful Hair” and as “The Lady of Drunkenness”, for the joyful swirl of intoxication was part of her worship.

Let me say now, it was a sober day. Hellishly hot. No beer in sight.

ancient light bulb relief dendara hathor temple egypt
In the innner crypt walls – a real crawl down a gap into a passage to this tomb at the rear of the temple – shown by gate-keeper. The famous “lightbulb” carving; did they have electricity ?

The Hathor temple at Dendara is amazingly well-preserved.

Intact stone roofs. Carved pillars. Painted ceilings. For me, jaw-dropping. Intense. Overwhelming. In love.

stone pillars whirling dendara hathor temple egypt
Got dizzy looking up – trying to photograph this awesome ceiling art

This gorgeous temple was constructed during the late Ptolemaic period and completed during Roman-occupied times. 

old male egyptian villager dendara
Walking back from the temple in the countryside in the searing mid-day with an elderly villager (who was partially blind) on route to a road to hitch back to Qena mini-bus station, to then get to Luxor.

Unlike many (older) Egyptian monuments, she’s had close-to-zero reconstructive surgery.

So at about 2000 years of age, Dendara’s Hathor temple is still a stunner.


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