The Zodiac of Dendera
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Zodiac of Dendera
zoom inVivant Denon published the first drawing of the Zodiac in his Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Égypte (Paris, 1802). Since the zodiac was on the ceiling of a dark chapel, he had to lie on his back and draw by candlelight.

From the Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Égypte

The Zodiac of Dendera is a large carved stone slab showing the constellations of the zodiac. It was discovered in a small chapel at Dendera by Vivant Denon in 1799. Denon made a drawing, and subsequently another was made by Prosper Jollois and Edouard Devilliers. In 1822, the zodiac was wrested from its chapel ceiling and taken to Paris, where it became an object of intense interest to astronomers, who hoped to use the star positions to date the artifact.

Zodiac of Dendera
zoom inProsper Jollois and Edouard Devilliers were members of a surveying team who were supposed to be studying irrigation techniques in Upper Egypt. When they learned about the Zodiac from Denon, they visited Dendera and made a more careful measured drawing of the artifact, which was later published in the Description de l'Égypte. The large figure on the right is Nut.

From Description de l'Égypte Antiquités, v. 4

See also: Learn more about the Zodiac

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This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the J.E. Dunn Construction Company.