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The Temple of Dendur - Art History Research

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The Temple of Dendur

Pooja Patel

ARHT 101 Art in Non-Western Society

Professor Colin

October 31, 2015

A breathtaking, The Temple of Dendur exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was created by the romans, during the roman period of 10 B.C. This temple is also one of the largest exhibits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

        This piece of art consists of a large standing gate, an open courtyard, and a rectangular temple. This Magnificent temple measures to be around 25 meters from the gate to the rear end of the temple. The temple is also 8 meters in height.1 There is approximately 11 meters of distance between the gate and the actual temple itself. The whole piece of art is made up sandstone. Since the temple is made up of sandstone, the temple is beige, very neutral/ nude in color. The color of the temple is very sand like. The structure of the temple is very unsymmetrical, there is no precise shape. The sandstones are in big rectangular block, and those blocks are stacked on top of each other. This pattern is repeated throughout the whole temple and as well as the gate. On the base of the temple are carved papyrus and lotus plant that looks like its growing from water. Throughout the whole outer wall of the temple, there are carvings of an event/ image. This patter is repeated throughout the outer wall of the temple and the outer part of the gate only. There are two pillars that hold up the temple. The unique part about these pillars are that, they start off from the bottom looking like normal pillars, but once it gets closer to the top, the pillars become a blooming lotus flower. Above the entrance of the gate and the temple there is a unique carving. There is an image of a sun disk lined with wide spread wings. The temple itself has a weird shape; it seems as if the temple is tilted downward. The front of the temple seems to be higher than the rear end of the temple.

        Temple of Dendur was built on the left bank of the Nile River, in the town of Nubia. The Temple of Dendur built in the early roman period was constructed during the rule of Augustus.2 Augustus was a roman emperor that ruled Egypt. During his ruling he built many temples in Egyptian style to honor the Egyptian gods.3 The Temple of Dendur was specifically built to honor the goddess Isis, and as well as the two sons of the local Nubian chief, Pedesi and Pihor. The temple was very significant to the Nubians because it stood as monument for the two brothers, Pedesi and Pihor that drowned.4 

        The temple was built on top of rocks, and also behind a cliff. The temple was constructed to honor the goddess Isis. The most symbolic part about the temple is that it signify the natural world, it represents nature. The Egyptians were big on respecting the nature. The carving of the lotus flower and papyrus growing from water on the base of temple is supposed to symbolize the god Hapy.5 God Hapy also knows as the Nile god, because he is known to cause annual flooding, which causes great fertile soil.6 This benefits the Egyptian because it allowed them to grow their crops. Egyptians always appreciated and valued The Nile. Above the gate and the entrance of the temple there is a carving of sun and spread open wings. The widespread wings are from a vulture. The Image is symbolize the god Horus.7 God Horus has many forms but his is knowns as the god of light.8 The carvings that are presented on the outer walls of the temple, are great symbolic images. Carved on the outside of the entrance, are images of Roman emperor Augustus, making an offering to the Egyptian Gods Osiris and Horus.9 These kind of Motifs are repeated throughout the outer portion of the temple. In the offering room there are carving of the Pihor worshipping the goddess Isis, and Pedesi worshipping the god Osiris.10

        People used the temple to worship the Goddess Isis. During that time there were many different temples and each of them specifically honoring a certain god or goddesses. As years went on, the temple became an artifact two thousand years old. In 1960 when the High Dam was being created, many temples started to get submerged in water. For almost thirty years, Dendur was flooded nine months of the years.11 To prevent the Temple from getting destroyed, Egyptian government offered The Temple of Dendur to the United States. Therefore now the Temple of Dendur is now displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts.



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