The circumpolar constellation, the Big Dipper, in the shape of a bull's leg. Source: Ahmed Amin

Ancient Egyptian Temple Restoration Unveils Unknown Constellations

The temple of Esna is in perfect condition even though it's thousands of years old.

Egypt is full of rich and vibrant history. Only a few areas have been excavated as of yet. Archaeologists believe that multiple significant areas are still buried underneath the sand. Experts are constantly trying to uncover the secrets of ancient Egypt and its culture.

Egyptian constellations on the ceiling of the temple of Esna. Source: Ahmed Amin
Egyptian constellations on the ceiling of the temple of Esna. Source: Ahmed Amin

German archaeologists have recently unearthed an ancient temple in Esna, Egypt. The said temple depicts a fascinating tale. Experts who initially found it back in the 1900s could not understand the language or engravings of the temple. Hence, the temple was forgotten over the years. However, it recently came into the limelight when Germans restored and deciphered its walls.

The restoration work in the temple of Esna. Source: Ahmed Amin
The restoration work in the temple of Esna. Source: Ahmed Amin

The said temple is in perfect condition even though it’s thousands of years old. Moreover, the restoration of the temple has unveiled the previously unknown names of the ancient Egyptian constellations. Experts believe that the temple of Esna was made for the Egyptian God called Khnum.

As stated above, the temple is in excellent condition. Experts and archaeologists successfully managed to restore the original colors of the walls of the temple. As per various reports, the temple of Esna was painted approximately 2000 years back.

The structure is at least 37 m long, 20 m wide, and 15 m tall. It was decorated during the 1st to 3rd century CE. The temple roof is supported by 18 columns with stunning floral capitals in the form of palm leaves, lotus buds, and papyrus fans. The columns are also adorned with astronomical scenes, while the pillars are covered with records of temple customs and rituals.

Workers that restore ancient walls generally use alcohol and distilled water to remove multiple soot and dirt layers. Upon cleaning the walls, archaeologists declared that the paintings and engravings of the temple were well preserved.

“it looks like it was painted yesterday. We are not repainting anything and are just removing the soot.” project leader Christian Leitz.

Researchers found several carved scenes representing the ancient constellations, including the Big Dipper (known as Mesekhtiu) and Orion (known as Sah). They also spotted various engravings about previously unknown constellations, including “Apedu n Ra,” or “the geese of Ra.” The details are not accurate, though. Archaeologists could not find complete pictures or descriptions of these constellations mainly because the temple itself is in pieces.

“In Egyptian temple architecture, this is an absolute exception. The work on the elaborate decorations probably took up to 200 years.” Dr. Daniel von Recklinghausen, a researcher in the Department of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen.

Moreover, during the latest renovation process, researchers discovered peculiar engravings that are difficult to decipher. When ancient Egyptians decorated the temple, they would first draw a design in black ink, then have an artisan carve the relief, and then paint it. Experts concluded that many of these peculiar inscriptions or engravings were drawn in ink but not carved or painted.

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