Dendera is a small town in Egypt on the west bank of the Nile about 5 km south of Qena and 60 km north of Luxor. It was the capital of the 6th nome of Upper Egypt Dendera temple represents one of the most complex mysteries of antiquity. The Temple is, structurally, among the best preserved of all Egypt Although texts attest to the existence of the city as early as the Old Kingdom (2647-2150) and the importance of this important place of worship, the site is best known for its temple dedicated to the Goddess Hathor, begun in the late Ptolemaic Period (305-30) and completed in the Roman Period under Emperor Nero (54-68). It is located, rather isolated, on the edge of the desert, about 2.5 km southwest of the city where the temple complex is located.
Dendera was the main place for the worship of Hathor, who in Egyptian mythology was the goddess of heaven and paradise, patroness of earthly love, goddess of healing and great female source of human nourishment; daughter of the sun god Ra and bride of the sky god Horus, she was the goddess of fertility and protected women and marriage. But she was also the goddess of love and beauty, so much so that she was often identified with the Greek Aphrodite. The main temple, dedicated to the Goddess Hathor, is the largest, covering some 40,000 square meters, and it is also one of the best, if not the best, preserved temples on the site in all of Egypt. It is also one of the best-decorated temples of the Ptolemaic Period (305-30). It was surrounded by a thick brick wall. The present building dates back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty and was completed under the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37).
The sculpture is known as the Zodiac of Dendera" is the most widely known of the pronaos ceiling sculptures. It was originally on the ceiling of a chapel dedicated to Osiris on the roof of the temple of Hathor. The chapel was begun at the end of the Ptolemaic Period (305-30) and its pronaos was added during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37). This representation of a circular zodiac is unique in ancient Egypt. The celestial vault is represented by a disc supported by four pillars of the sky in the shape of women, between which are inserted genii with falcon heads.
To the east of this temple lies part of the city, with a temple dedicated to Horus of Edfu in the middle. Between these buildings is a Coptic Basilica, probably built in the 5th century, and in the southwest corner of the main building is the sacred lake, which is one of the best-preserved in Egypt. It was used for the ablutions of the clergy and the celebration of the mysteries connected with the death and resurrection of Osiris. It is close to the lake that a treasure was unearthed which is preserved partly in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and partly in the Louvre Museum.