Zodiaque Denderah

Figure 5.39: The fragment of the Big Esna zodiac showing figures of Venus and Mars.
Figure 5.41: The fragment of the Round Denderah zodiac showing figures of Venus and Mercury
Zodiaque Namorozov Brugsch

sibly, the reason for it was the absence of an inscription near the heads of these two figures. H. Brugsch, in his attempt of decoding of the planetary symbols, was guided by the meaning of hieroglyphic inscriptions without putting too much attention to the analysis of the Egyptian symbols. Indeed, near the two female planetary symbols there are no hieroglyphs, contrary to the other planetary symbols. But anyway, this is the only one occurrence of female planetary symbols on the whole Round zodiac. Instead, Brugsch suggested that Venus is represented by a male(?) planetary figure with a double face. On the Round zodiac this figure is located between Pisces and Aquarius, and on the Long zodiac between Aries and Taurus (see Figures 5.41 and 5.42).

Henry Brugsch, in his investigation, found on the Long zodiac near the double-faced figure a hieroglyphic inscription, which he read as "Pnouter-Ti" and translated as "God/Goddess of the Morning"35. He interpreted this inscription as the name of Venus but he didn't realize that from the astronomical point of view it could also be Mercury. N.A. Morozov, while checking the Brugsch's identification found this mistake. Let us explain why the inscription "God/Goddess of the Morning" could also refer to Mercury as well as to Venus. It is known that in ancient Egypt Mercury and Venus were both called "morning star"36. They are inferior planets -those with orbits smaller than the Earth orbit and that is why for an observer on the Earth they can only be visible in the evenings or mornings, when the Sun is not too deep under the horizon. But Mercury is even closer to the Sun than Venus, in fact it is never more than 27o45' of angle away from the Sun and thus it is seen only as a "morning" star just before sunrise or an "evening" star just after sunset. The angular distance of Venus from the Sun is less or equal to 48o, so it can be seen also in the beginning and the end of a night. In fact, the name "God of the Morning" fits better Mercury than Venus. Moreover, there are other more appropriate planetary symbols for Venus on the both Denderah zodiacs. Namely, as we've already explained, on the Round zodiac there is a pair of two females with walking sticks (one of them with a lion head) and on the Long zodiac there is a female with a walking stick escorted by a lion-headed male figure also with a walking stick.

Let us notice that on an Egyptian zodiac Venus is usually represented by a couple of planetary figures, one of which is a female and another either a female or a male. On the other hand, all the "male planets" on the Egyptian zodiacs, i.e. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and sometimes the Sun (when it is shown by a human figure), are always males.

This double appearance of the inferior planets on the Egyptian horoscopes, i.e. a two-faced Mercury and a two-figure Venus, can be explained from the astronomical point of view. The appearances of each of these two inferior planets alternate among mornings and evenings only. These morning and evening appearances are separated by periods of invisibility, which in the beginning of the ancient astronomy was considered as a physical disappearance of the planet. The reappearance of the planet was seen as the birth of a new — morning or evening planet. After some time it was realized that the same planet was observed in the mornings and the evenings, which was simply invisible in between. For example, in ancient Greece, Mercury was called Apollo when it appeared as a morning star and Hermes, when it appeared as an evening star. This old belief left its traces in the ancient Egyptian

Figure 5.42: The fragment of the Long Denderah zodiac showing figures of Venus and Mercury.

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