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The Theology of Hathor of Dendera: Aural and Visual Scribal Techniques in the Pe

By Barbara A. Richter


The Ptolemaic period witnessed an enormous increase in the number of hieroglyphic signs and iconographic elements (composite crowns, scepters, and cult objects). The ancient scribes exploited this complexity when composing the reliefs used in temple decoration, selecting particular words, hieroglyphic signs, and iconographic elements in order to create interconnected multiple layers of meaning, forming a tapestry of sound and sight. The Theology of Hathor of Dendera examines these techniques on both micro- and macro-levels, from their smallest details to their broadest thematic connections, foregrounding individual techniques to determine the words and phrases singled out for emphasis. By synthesizing their use in the three-dimensional space of the most important cult chamber in the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, this new method of analysis not only reveals the most essential characteristics of the local theology, but also shows how the ancient scribes envisioned the universe and the place of humankind within it.



"As Richter observes (p. 58), swapping two similarly shaped signs does not affect the readability of the passage, but does add a visual allusion to the myth of the wandering goddess, whose return is celebrated with drunken revelry. This page should be assigned to all first-year students of Middle Egyptian to caution them against taking sic at face value in publications of hieroglyphic texts.…

"The Theology of Hathor of Dendera demonstrates the need to supplement the standard publications of Ptolemaic temples that rely predominantly on typeset hieroglyphs arranged in horizontal lines. Now we have the luxury of returning to those same temples and exploring the intricacies of the texts. I sin- cerely hope that Richter’s volume will be the first in a long series of monographs revealing the talents of Ptolemaic scribes."—Colleen Darnell in Journal of the American Oriental Society 142.1 (2022): 237–239 DOI: 10.5913/jaos.142.1.2022.rev021

The Theology of Hathor of Dendera: Aural and Visual Scribal Techniques in the Pe

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  • More info

    Wilbour Studies in Egyptology and Assyriology vol. 4

    xxx + 500 pages (with 265 figures and drawings and 17 tables)

    8.5 x 11 inches

    ISBN 978-1-937040-51-2 (hardcover)

    ISBN 978-1-937040-52-9 (PDF)

    April 2016

  • Table of Contents

    The Myth of the Wandering Goddess and the Per-Wer Sanctuary

    Word Play in the Per-Wer

    Sign Play in the Per-Wer

    Plays on Iconography and Epithets

    The Per-Wer Sanctuary



    Translation of the Texts in the Per-Wer Sanctuary


    Appendix 1: Table of Word Plays in the Per-Wer Sanctuary

    Appendix 2: Table of Sign Plays in the Per-Wer Sanctuary





    Subject Index

    Index of Artifacts

    Index of Ancient Languages

    Index of Ancient Texts

    Index of Transliterated Terms

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