CAIRO: A team of Egyptian and German experts uncovered a complete zodiac symbol on the ceiling of the Hypostyle Hall on the southern side of Luxor’s Temple of Esna.
The discovery was made during a project to record, document and restore the temple’s original colors, carried out by a joint team of experts from the Egyptian Center of Documentation of Antiquities and the University of Tuebingen, Germany.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the symbol was undetected during previous projects in the temple.
He added that the finding would contribute to increasing the flow of Egyptian visitors and foreign tourists to the site.
Hisham El-Leithy, head of the Egyptian expert team, said that the zodiac depicts the twelve signs from Aries to Pisces, in addition to images of the outer planets including Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. It also depicts the so-called seven arrows, in addition to some stars or constellations that were used by the ancient Egyptians for time measurement.
Christian Leitz, head of the mission from the German side, said that a number of signs depicting Egyptian deities and animals, including snakes and crocodiles, were also uncovered. Images of a serpent with a ram head and a bird with a crocodile head, as well as a serpent tail, were also found.
The Temple of Esna is one of the most prominent tourist and archaeological attractions in Esna, south of Luxor Governorate, in southern Egypt. The site is located on the west bank of the Nile River.
Construction on the Temple of Esna began in 186 B.C. It took about 400 years to build and complete its inscriptions, which were finalized in 250 A.D. The temple consists of one hypostyle hall that includes 24 columns with depictions of Ptolemaic kings and emperors.
Last year, Egyptian-German experts uncovered images of 46 eagles arranged in two rows on top of the entrance gate of the Temple of Esna.