home first back 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81-90 91-100 101-110 111-120 121-130 131-140 141-150 151-160 161-170 171-180 181-190 191-200 201-210 211-220 221-230 231-240 241-250 251-260 forward



But, to reach the remote antiquity which is pretended
to be deduced from them, we must first suppose that
their division had a decided relation to a

arms of the great figure, and on the band at the left the Aquarius is at some
distance from it, but the Capricorn is not repeated like the Cancer. The
division of this zodiac, from the entrance, is then between the Lion and the
Cancer, where, if he thought that the repetition of these Scarabæus marks
the division of a sign, it takes place in the Cancer itself; but that at the
bottom is between the Capricorn and Aquarius.
In one of the inner halls of the same temple there was a circular
planisphere inscribed in a square, which has been brought to Paris by M.
Lelorrain, and is now in the king's library. There are there also the signs of
the zodiac, amongst many other figures which appear to represent
The Lion there corresponds with one of the diagonals of the square; the
Virgin who f'ollows him corresponds with a perpendicular line directed
eastward; the outer signs advance in their known order to Cancer, which,
instead of completing the chain by corresponding to the level of the Lion, is
placed above him nearer the centre of the circle; so that the signs are in a line
rather spiral.
The Cancer, or rather Scarabæus, advances in a contrary direction to the
other signs. The Twins correspond with the north; the Sagittary with the
south; and the fishes with the east, but not exactly. On the eastern side of
this planisphere is a large female figure, with her head in a southerly
direction, and her feet towards the north, like the rest in the portico. A
doubt might then be raised as to what point of this second zodiac should be
taken as the commencement of the signs. If we take one of the
perpendiculars, or one of the diagonals, or the point where one part of the
series passes over the other part, we should divide it at the Lion, or between
the Lion and the Cancer, or, lastly, at the Twins.
At Esne (the ancient Latopolis,) a city below Thebes, there are zodiacs
on the ceilings of two different temples.
That of the great temple, whose entrance is eastward, is on two bands
contiguous to, and parallel with the length of the south side of the ceiling.

* See the great work on Egypt. Antiq. v. iv. p. 21.
Id. v. i. pl. lxxii.



certain state of the sky dependent on the precession of
the equinoxes, which causes the colours to make the
tour of the zodiac in twenty-six thousand years;

The, female figures who embrace them are not placed lengthwise, but in the
breadth of the bands; so that one is across near the eastern entrances the
head and arms towards the north, and the feet towards the lateral wall, or
southward, and the other is at the bottom of the portico, also across and
facing the first.
The nearest band to the axis of the portico, or north, first presents, on
the side of the entrance, or eastward, and towards the head of the female
figure, the Lion, placed a little backwards and going towards the bottom, the
feet towards the lateral wall; behind the Lion, at the commencement of the
band, are two smaller Lions; befre it is the Scarabæus, and then the Twins
advancing in the same direction; then the Bull, the Rain, and the Fishes, close
to each other, placed across the middle of the band. The Bull with his head
towards the lateral wall, the Ram towards the axis. The Aquarius is farther
off, and takes the same direction towards the bottom as the three first signs.
On the band nearest to the lateral wall and the north, we see at first, but
at some distance from the bottom or west, the Capricorn, which is going in
an opposite direction to the Aquarius, and directs his course eastward, or
towards the entrance of the portico with the feet turned towards the lateral
wall. Close toit is the Sagittary, corresponding with the Fishes and the Ram.
He advances towards the entrance, but his feet are turned towards the axis in
an opposite direction to those of the Capricorn.
At a certain distance in front, and near each other are the Scorpion and a
female holding a balance; finally, a little more in front, but still sufficiently
distant from the anterior, or eastern extremity, is the Virgin, who is preceded
by a Sphynx. The Virgin and the female who holds the balance have their
feet towards the wall, so that the Sagittary is the only sign which is placed
with its head differently to those of the other signs.
Northward of Esne, is a small isolated temple, equally directed towards
the east, and whose 'portico has also a zodiac:* it is on two lateral and
separated bands. That which is along the south side begins with the Lion,
who is advancing towards the bottom, or westward; the feet turned towards
the wall, or

* See the great work on Egypt. Antiq. v. i. p1. lxxxvii.



that it pointed out, for example, the position of the
solstitial point; and, secondly, that the state of the
heavens represented, was precisely that which took
place at the epoch when this monument was
constructed; two suppositions, which of themselves
evidently suppose many others.
In fact, are the figures of these zodiacs
constellations, the real groups of stars which now bear
the same name, or simply what astronomers call signs;

south-ward; the Scarabæus precedes it, and this latter is headed by the
Twins marching in tlie same direction. The Bull, on the contrary, meets
them, going in an easterly direction; but the Ram and the Fishes take the
direction towards the bottom, or towards the west.
At the band on the northern side, the Aquarius is near the bottom, or
the west, advancing towards the entrance, or the east, their feet turned
towards the wall, preceded by the Capricorn and the Sagittary, which are
going in opposite directions. The other signs are lost; but, it is evident that
the Virgin should go at the head of this band on the side of the entrance.
Amongst the accessory figures of this small zodiac, we must remark two
winged Rams, placed crosswise, the one between the Bull and the Twins;
the other between the Scorpion and the Sagittary; and each nearly in the
middle of its band, the second, however, rather more advanced towards the
It was thought, at first, that in the great zodiac of Esne, the division at
the entrance was made between the Virgin and the Lion, and that of the
bottom between the Fish and the Aquarius.
But Mr. Hamilton, and MM. de Jallois and Villiers have imaginecl that
they discovered in the Sphynx, which preceded the Virgin, a repetition of
the Lion, analogous to that of the Cancer in the great zodiac of Dendera; so
that, according to them, the division should be made in the Lion. In fact,
without this explanation, there would be only five signs on one side, and
seven on the other.
As to the small zodiac at the north of Esne, we cannot tell if there be
any emblem analogous to the Sphynx, because this part is destroyed.*

* British Review, February, 1827, p. 136; and the end of the Critical
Letter on Zodiacomania, p. 33.



that is to say, divisions of the zodiacs, proceeding
from one of the colures, whatever place this colure
Is the point at which these zodiacs have been
divided into two bands necessarily that of a solstice?
Is the division of the side next the entrance
necessarily that of the summer solstice?
Does this division indicate, even in a general sense,
a phenomenon dependent on the precession of the
Does it not rather relate to some epoch whose
rotation would be less; for example, to the moment of
the tropical year, when such or such of the sacred
years of the Egyptians began, which being shorter than
the real tropical year, by nearly six hours, made the
circuit of the zodiac in 1508 years. Finally, whatever
meaning it may have had, has it been intended thereby
to mark the time when the zodiac was engraved, or that
when the temple was built? Was there no
contemplation of recalling a previous state of the
heavens at some interesting epoch for religion, whether
by observation at the time, or concluded on by
posterior calculations?
From the mere statement of such questions, we may
perceive how complicated they were, and how any
solution that might be adopted must be subject to
dispute, and how little susceptible of positive proof in
solving any other problem, such as the antiquity of the
Egyptian nations. Thus we may say, that amongst those
who endeavoured to draw a date from these data, that
there are as many opinions as there have been writers
on the subject.
M. Burkard, the learned astronomer, according to a
first examination, judged that at Dendera, the solstice
is in the Lion, and consequently two sign



earlier than at thepresent day, and that the temple had
stood at least 4000 years. (1)
He, at the same time, assigned an antiquity of 7000
years to that of Esne, although it is not known how he
meant to make these numbers agree with what was
known of the precession of the equinoxes.
The late Lalande, seeing that the Crab was repeated
on the two bands, imagined that the solstice passed
through this constellation; but as it was so in the
sphere of Eudoxus, he concluded that some Greek
might have represented this sphere on the ceiling of an
Egyptian temple, without knowing that he was
depicting a state of the heavens which had for a long
time ceased to exist. (2) It was, as we may perceive, a
very different inference from that of M. Burkard.
Dupuis was the first who deemed it necessary to
seek for confirmation of this idea, and he in some sort
confidently adopted, that it was the solstice that was
denoted; he found them, for the great zodiac of
Dendera, in the globe at the apex of the pyramid, and
in many emblems placed near different signs, and
which sometimes, according to the an ient authors,
such as Plutarch, Horus Apollo, or Clemens
Alexandrinus; sometimes, according to his own
conjectures, he imagined to represent phenomena
which could have really been those of the seasons
affected at each sign.
Besides, he maintained that this state of the heavens
gives the date of the monument, and that they had, at
Dendera, the original, and not a copy of the

(1) M. Grobert's Description of the Pyramids of Geza, p. 117.
(2) Connaissance des Temps, for the year XIV.



sphere of Eudoxus, which would relate to 1468 years
before Christ, in the reign of Sesostris.
But the number of nineteen boats placed under each
band gave him the idea that the solstice might have
been in the nineteenth degree of the sign, which would
make an addition of 288 years.(1)
Mr. Hamilton, (2) having remarked, that at
Dendera, the Scarabæus on the side of the ascending
signs is smaller than that on the other side, an English
author(3) has thence concluded that the solstice may
have been nearer the actual point than the middle of
Cancer, Which would take us back to a period of 1000
or 1200 years before Christ.
The late Nouet, judging that this globe, the rays,
and the horned head or Isis, represent the heliacal
rising of Sirius, pretended that they intended to denote
an epoch of the sothaic period, but that they intended
to mark it by the place of the solstice; but, in the last
but one of these periods, that which elapsed from 2782
years to 1322 before Christ, the solstice has passed
from thirty degrees forty-eight minutes of the
constellation of the Lion, to thirty (legrees thirty-four
minutes of the Cancer; at the middle of this period
then it was at twenty-three degrees thirty-four minutes
of the Cancer; the heliacal rising of Sirius then
occurred some days after the solstice. This, according
to Nouet, was indicated by the repetition of the
Scarabæus, and by the image of Sirius in the rays of
the sun placed at the commencenient of the band on the
right. According

(1) Observation on the Zodiac of Dendera, in the Philosophical and
Literary Review, in 1806, 2d Division, p. 257, et seq.
(2) Ægyptiaca, p. 212.
(3) See British Review, Feb. 1817, p. 136, et seq. Article vi. on the
Origin and Antiquity of the Zodiac. It is translated at the end of Swartz's
Critical Letters on Zodiacomania.



to this calculation, he concludes that this temple is
2052 years before Christ, and that of Esne 4600.(1)
All these calculations, even admitting that the
division marks the solstice, must still be susceptible of
many modifications; and it appears at first that their
authors have supposed the constellations to be all like
the signs, of thirty degrees, and have not reflected that
they must be more, at least as they are now drawn, and
as the Greeks have transmitted them to us, that they
may thus be equal amongst themselves. In reality, the
solstice which is now on this side of the first stars of
the constellation of the Twins could only have left the
first stars of the constellation of Cancer, 45 years after
Christ. It only quitted the constellation of the Lion
1260 years before the same era.
My colleague, the celebrated and learned M.
Delambre, has kindly supplied me with the subjoined
tables, which with the remarks that follow, elucidate
what has been just remarked.

(1) See the Memoir of Nouet, in the New Researches on the Ancient
History of Volney, v. in. p. 328 — 336.



TABLE of the Extent of the ZODIACAL
CONSTELLATIONS, as they are drawn on our Globes,
and of the Times which the Colures employ in
traversing them.

IMAGE Revolutions01.jpg



IMAGE Revolutions02.jpg



IMAGE Revolutions03.jpg

first back forward

[made with GoClick]