21 Egyptian Zodiacs

Egyptian zodiacs are nothing other than symbolic maps representing, in a specific "ancient" Egyptian style, astronomical objects on the sky. If we look upward at the sky on a clear night we will have an impression that the sky is a great hollow spherical shell with the Earth at the center. It is sometimes called celestial sphere. This celestial sphere is gradually and continuously changing its orientation, which is caused by the rotation of the Earth. However, a careful observer can notice that some stars do not rise or set. There seems to be a point in the sky about which the whole celestial sphere appears to turn. A star at this point would appear motionless in the sky. The North Star is within 1o of this pivot point. An observer at the North Pole of the Earth would see the stars appear to circle about the sky parallel to the horizon. It was already known to ancient Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks that the Sun changes its position on the celestial sphere. Of course it is impossible to see the position of the Sun with respect to the stars in the daylight but nevertheless it is possible to observe the exact position of the Sun among the stars twice per day. The first time, just before the sunrise when the stars are still visible, we can determine the position on the celestial sphere of the point on the horizon where the Sun will appear (expecting that the Sun will rise in the same point as yesterday). Similarly, we can observe the position of the Sun just after the sunset. In the course of one year, the Sun completes a circle on the celestial sphere. This apparent path of the Sun is called ecliptic (because eclipses can occur only when the Moon is on or near it). Of course, the Sun's motion on the ecliptic is an illusion produced by the Earth's annual revolution about the Sun. It was noticed by the ancients that the ecliptic does not lie in a plane perpendicular to the line between the celestial poles, but is inclined at an angle of about 23^ to that plane. This angle is called the obliquity of the ecliptic. The individual paths of the Moon and planets in the sky all lie close to the ecliptic, although not exactly on it. The planets and Moon are always found in the sky within a narrow belt 18o wide centered on the ecliptic, called the zodiac. This zodiac belt is a celestial highway where the motion of all the planets as well as of Sun and the Moon take place when observed from the Earth. Twelve zodiac constellations are placed along the ecliptic filling the zodiac belt. Their names are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each of the twelve zodiac constellations is located in a sector 30o long on average. In modern astrology, instead of zodiac constellations, there is usually used an equal partition of the zodiac belt into regions of exactly 30o long, called zodiac houses and named after constellations, with the starting point being the spring equinox of the date, i.e. the position of the Sun on the ecliptic when day and night become equal in the spring, which nowadays happens approximately around March 21. Since the spring equinox is moving along the ecliptic with the speed around 1o in 70 years, the zodiac houses do not coincide exactly with the corresponding zodiac constellations and, in fact, after about 2100 years their positions shift.

The key concept in astrology is a horoscope, which is a chart that shows the positions of the planets in the sky with respect to zodiac constellations. The ancient Egyptians knew about the planets moving within the zodiac belt and attributed great importance to their positions with respect to the zodiac constellations and, unknowingly, were able to encode in the horoscopes specific dates which with today's technology can be easily deciphered. However, not necessarily with a unique result. Contemporary astrology constructs horoscopes based on the position of the planets with respect to the zodiac houses which are calculated, but, in ancient times the horoscopes were made according to the actual view of the constellations in the sky. The visual positions of the planets were determined by the light rays from Earth passing through the planets. As was mentioned above, all these rays lie approximately in the same plane, which is the common plane for all planets' orbits in the solar system. In fact there are some slight differences in planes of orbital movements but they are very close to each other. This means that all the rays from the Earth to the planets and the Sun and Moon meet the celestial sphere somewhere inside the zodiac belt. An Egyptian horoscope is nothing else than a representation of the positions of planets (including Sun and the Moon) with respect to the zodiac constellations. In ancient times the Sun and Moon were also included in the list of planets because they change their visual positions on the celestial sphere (contrary to the stars). Therefore, the ancient horoscopes contained the total number of seven planets: the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury.

At any time, there are 12 possible zodiac constellations where each of the seven planets may appear. Positions of the Moon, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are independent of each other. However, due to the inner orbits with respect to the Earth's orbit, the visual angle distance from Mercury and the Sun cannot be larger than 28° and the angle distance from Venus to the Sun must be smaller than 48°. This means that for each fixed position of the Sun in the zodiac there are only 3 possible positions for Mercury and 5 possible positions for Venus. It is not difficult to compute that there are exactly

different horoscopes. Since an average horoscope remains on the sky for about 24 hours, there are about 365 different horoscopes every year. Therefore, a specific horoscope reappears only after 10 thousand years in average. However, in reality some horoscopes may reappear two or three times after 8 or 9 hundred years and later disappear for more than several dozens thousands of years. One can easily perceive that from the point of view of its universality and accuracy, a horoscope is a perfect tool to record dates, with a precision of one or two days in average, which is independent of any particular dating system. Therefore, if a symbolic representation of the zodiac constellations contains symbols or names of the planets, we have reason to believe that it is not only an artistic object (painting or sculpture) but it should be considered to be a horoscope that can be dated.

The Egyptian zodiacs contained specific ancient symbols to illustrate astronomical objects, which today can be analyzed in order to answer the most intriguing question: When exactly did the ancient Egyptian live and when were the famous ancient Egyptian temples constructed?

In other words, the dating of the horoscopes shown on ancient Egyptian zodiacs provides a suitable, according to the present scientific standards, method for establishing milestone dates for the chronology of the Ancient Egypt. We can reveal that the analysis of all the ancient Egyptian zodiacs leads only to medieval dates with the majority of them located after the twelve century and even later. These results match very well the New Chronology (see [98],[100],[101],[112]), according to which the most ancient events of the documented history took place not earlier than in the eleventh century A.D. (see 1.8).

We would like to observe that commemoration of certain dates by horoscopes was very widespread in the ancient Egypt. Even today, imitations of ancient horoscopes are popular in Egypt, where tourists can find them without trouble in almost every souvenir store among other "ancient" Egyptian artifacts. One of these papyrus drawings, that was purchased in year 2000 in Luksor is illustrated on Figure 2.1.

In many such stores, a tourist can even order his or her own "ancient" Egyptian zodiac with a horoscope to be drawn on a papyrus. Nowadays there is no need to observe the locations of the planets but it is sufficient to have a computer and an astronomical software that can be easily downloaded from the Internet, and the whole task of making an "ancient" Egyptian zodiac is reduced to arranging appropriately the "ancient" Egyptian symbols. Therefore, any of would-be ancient Egyptian zodiacs should be studied with great caution because it could be a forgery or simply a zodiac that was made in eighteenth or nineteenth century when this ancient tradition was still alive in Egypt. It will be explained later, with more details, that the zodiacs in Egypt were connected to burial rituals. These burial traditions could be cultivated by Egyptians much longer than usually assumed. Moreover, many fake horoscopes could also be fabricated in nineteenth century when the ancient Egypt became fashionable among reach Europeans. Therefore, when working on dating of an ancient horoscope, we should be prepared for a possibility that the obtained date could be much later than expected. For example, it is quite possible that the date of an "ancient" Egyptian zodiac could indicate the nineteenth century even if it was discovered in a very "ancient Egyptian tomb." There is a problem that the present dating methods of archaeological findings from ancient Egypt are very imprecise, erroneous, and often leading to the wrong conclusions. For example, using these methods, a tomb dated as a very ancient burial place could turn out, as it sometimes really happens, to be constructed in the nineteenth century.

Very often, the fact that an Egyptian picture represents a zodiac may not be evident at the first glance. However, there are some definite features which can be used to recognize easily such pictures

Egyptian Zodiac Rectangular
Figure 2.1: Modern Egyptian papyrus with a picture of an old zodiac.

as zodiacs. For example, on almost every Egyptian zodiac there is a dominating female figure with raised hands, and her body usually shaped in form of an arc symbolizing the sky. This figure is commonly recognized as the "Egyptian goddess Nut" (see Figure 2.2). One can easily identify this symbol on Figure 2.1.

Let us present several examples of Egyptian zodiacs. All these zodiacs will be discussed in details later in this book, but for now we would like only to give an idea about possible different appearances of Egyptian zodiacs. On Figure 2.3 we show an ancient Egyptian zodiac that was found in the Kings Valley near Thebes. This picture was made during the Egyptian expedition of Napoleon and published in the Napoleonic edition of the album La Description de l'Egypte.

On Figure 2.4 we show a part of the low relief depicting a zodiac which was found on the ceiling in an ancient Egyptian temple in Denderah. It is big relief of dimensions 2.55 x 2.53 meters, that is considered to be the most famous Egyptian zodiac. It is called the "Round Denderah Zodiac" (because of it's round form) in order to distinguish it from the "Long" or "Rectangular Denderah Zodiac" which was discovered in the same temple in Denderah. The Round Denderah zodiac was found by Europeans in 1799 during the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and later removed and taken to Paris. Today the original Round

Figure 2.2: "Ancient Egyptian goddess Nut." (Taken from [7], p.10)
Ancient Egyptian Famous Figures
Figure 2.3: Zodiac found in the Kings Valley near Thebes. (Taken from [2] - "Tableau Astronomique peint au plafond du premier tombeau des Rois a l'Ouest", plate 82)

Denderah zodiac is displayed in Louvre museum in Paris while a copy decorates the ceiling of the Denderah temple.

The central part of the Round zodiac is shown on Figure 2.6, where it is possible to see better some of the figures representing zodiac constellations and planets. We will discuss in detail all these symbols later in Chapter 5.

A drawing of the complete Round zodiac is presented on Figure 2.7 and the drawing of the Round zodiac taken from the Napoleonic Album "La Description de l'Egypte" is shown on Figure 2.5.

This picture looks very nice and it is clear that the artist tried to be accurate in the smallest detail. However, in the same time, it is easy to notice that its style was modified following eighteenth century fashion — the original is much more primitive. It is not hard to recognize on the Round zodiac the symbols of all twelve zodiac constellations, which are placed inside the central circle of the zodiac. It is strange that these symbols appear exactly in the same way as in the European medieval astronomical books. Leo is represented by a figure of lion, Sagittarius is a shooting an arrow, Capricorn is a fantastic creature with a fish tail and goat head, etc.

Figure 2.4: Round Denderah Zodiac. (Taken from [115] p.115)


Figure 2.6: Central part of the Round Denderah Zodiac. Taken from [13], p.255)

Nikolai A. Morozov, who throughly studied the Round zodiac at the beginning of the twentieth century, wrote: "Look at ... the symbols of zodiac constellations ... They are drawn in a fine and clear manner outlining the zodiac belt, in exactly the same way it is placed in the real sky. It is not concentric with ... the celestial equator but it is raised noticeable around the area of the summer constellations of Cancer and Gemini and lowered on the opposite side near the winter constellations of Sagittarius and Capricorn. These symbols are not much different from those we can find on Bayer's astronomical charts or even in the nineteenth century astronomical books."1 So, it is evident that the author of the Round zodiac was quite competent in astronomy.

We will explain later that practically every symbol in the Round zodiac has definite astronomical meaning. As we mentioned earlier, in the same temple in Denderah, beside the Round zodiac, there was also found another zodiac, called the Long or Rectangular Denderah zodiac. It was a low relief on a ceiling of much larger size than the

Large Round Zodiac Chart
Figure 2.5: Drawing of the whole Round Denderah Zodiac with two Nut Goddesses on its side. (Taken from [10], p.71)

Round zodiac. The Long zodiac consists of two rectangular parts, each of them about 25 m long. The Long zodiac is illustrated on Figure 2.8.

These two parts of the Long zodiac are placed on the opposite sides of a large rectangular ceiling of the main hall in the Denderah Temple. All the space between these parts is covered by pictures with astronomical meaning. The size of this impressive ceiling is 25 m x42.5 m. The view of the whole ceiling is presented on Figure 2.10. The Long zodiac depicts all twelve zodiac constellations in their correct order as they appear on the sky. Among the symbols of the constellations there are also shown other symbols. We will prove in the subsequent chapters that all these symbols have a precise astronomical meaning associated with the definite and unique date. Some details of the Long zodiac are illustrated on Figure 2.9.

The two Denderah zodiacs were objects of interest for many scientists who were trying to to interpret and date them. Several famous mathematicians and astronomers of the 19th century, such as Ch. Dupuis, P. Laplace, J. Fourier, A. Letronne, K. Helm, J. Biot, etc., attempted to decode the horoscopes shown in these zodiacs and tried to date them astronomically. They made calculations for the possible dates from very ancient times to the year 300 A.D. but could not find any satisfactory solution. In spite of the fact that the horoscopes had all the attributes of a genuine astronomical picture, they stopped the calculations and reluctantly made a conclusion that these two horoscopes are not depicting a real astronomical data from any time and are the product of pure fantasy. This was a gross mistake, because in fact, if they had continued their efforts they would have obtained some satisfactory solutions for both zodiacs. In fact several reasonable solutions were found in the 20th century by N.A. Morozov2, N.S. Kellin and D.V. Denisenko3, and T.N. Fomenko4. Strangely, all these solutions refer to the medieval dates which were not earlier than sixth century A.D. We will argue that there is more astronomical information contained in the Denderah zodiacs which was not recognized by the previous investigators. With the use of the full astronomical information the solution turns out to be unique (see Chapter 7).

One can ask the question, 'what was the reason for these astronomers to halt all further computations after reaching the year 300 A.D.?" This is an interesting story. The first Egyptologist who analyzed the archaeological site of the temple, dated its approximate construction to be 15 000 B.C. However, later, during the eighteenth century this date was changed to 3 000 B.C. and finally to the first century A.D. In such circumstances the astronomers did not see the reason to look for the date after third century A.D. As we have already mentioned, at that time, when everything had to be done by hand, these calculations were extremely long and te-

Zodiac Denderah
Figure 2.7: Round Denderah Zodiac from the Napoleonic Album. (Taken from [2], A. Vol. IV, Plate 21)
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