Electricity in the Ancient World?

Temple of Hathor

The Temple of Hathor at Dendera, on the Nile north of Luxor, is one of the latest Egyptian temples. Dedicated to the wife of the god Horus, it was built in Roman times and depictions show Roman emperors alongside Egyptian gods. Along with Abydos, which is further north, Dendera is a day trip from Luxor. The village of Dendera is situated 60km north of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the provincial town of Qena, where the Nile Valley road branches off to the Red Sea town of Hurghada. It’s ancient name was Lunet and it was also known as Tentyris during classical times.
 This temple may depict the usage of electricity, magnetism, and the principles of the modern light bulb.

The Temple was built between 30 BC and 14 AD, but it was built on top of an older temple, the date of which remains unclear. It is probable that the design of the later temple is based on that of the older one. It was known as the ‘Castle of the Sistrum’ or ‘Pr Hathor’, which means House of Hathor.

Hathor was the goddess of love, joy and beauty. The walls, rooms and roof are extraordinarily well preserved. It’s supporting pillars, which had capitals sculpted in the image of Hathor, were defaced by the Christians. The stone steps of the spiral staircase are time-worn but still used to ascend to the roof, where there is a small chapel decorated with intact Hathor-headed columns.

Hathor with a Dendera was an ancient healing center, comparable to a Greek Asklepion or the Catholic Lourdes. Hathor, who was the wife of Horus, was the goddess of the sky, fertility and healing, and the rituals performed by her priestesses included the use of a sistrum, or rattle.

Similar to other temple sites in Egypt, the complex at Dendera marks the location of a very old holy place. An indication of the antiquity of the temple site is given by the astronomical alignment of the main temple to the constellation Gamma Draconis before 5000BC. Early texts refer to a Pre-dynastic temple that was rebuilt during the Old Kingdom, and further developed by New Kingdom pharaohs including Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, and Ramses II and III. The present structure dates to the Greek and Roman periods, with the sanctuary and its surrounding chapels built by the later Ptolemies in the 1st century BC. Dendera was the chief place for the worship of Hathor, who is variously seen as the patroness of earthly love, the goddess of healing, and the great feminine source of all nourishment (like the Hindu goddess Kali, Hathor also has her terrible aspects; in one ancient myth she is a raging lioness sent to punish mankind for its rebellion).

Beneath the Temple of Hathor at Dendera there is a crypt with walls inscribed with some very strange reliefs. Krassa and Habeck describe the site in their book “Light for the Pharaoh”:

“The walls are decorated with human figures next to bulb-like objects reminiscent of oversized light bulbs. Inside these “bulbs” there are snakes in wavy lines. The snakes’ pointed tails issue from a lotus flower, which, without much imagination, can be interpreted as the socket of the bulb. Something similar to a wire leads to a small box on which the air god is kneeling. Adjacent to it stands a two-armed djed pillar as a symbol of power, which is connected to the snake. Also remarkable is the baboon-like demon holding two knives in his hands, which are interpreted as a protective and defensive power.”

 François Daumas described the easternmost of the five crypts along the southern end, telling us that:

“In the last room, one sees, carefully carved on the Southern wall, a falcon with detailed feathers, preceded by a snake emerging from a lotus blossom within a boat. Whereas the whole of the temple is constructed of sandstone, to facilitate a relief of fine quality there was placed in the wall, at the level of the figures, a block of limestone suitable for very detailed work, and of this the artist took full and perfect advantage. These reliefs are cosmological representations. The snake that comes out of the lotus is equated with the shining deity Harsamtawy (Ihy) as he appears for the first time out of the primordial sea. He is again represented near the bottom of the crypt in the form of two snakes also coming forth, but this time wrapped in lotuses like protective envelopes. Sometimes those that were on the Mesktet-barque collaborated with Horus; other times the Mandjet-barque with its crew helped to reveal the god: Djed raises his body, a supreme manner of worship, attendant of the god’s prestigious ka. The statuettes appear to have been used for the New Year celebration and the festival of Harsamtawy. It is likely that on these solemn occasions these objects were transported to the vault [i.e. the room above the crypt].”

Here is a translation of the text of the south wall:

“Resomtus is alive with gloss in the sky (and) lives at the day of the New Year celebration. 
He lights up in its house in the night of the child in his nest, by donating the light to the country from the birth bricks. The sky is jubilant, the earth is pleased and the God chapels is glad, when he appears in his chamber in his procession barge at his beautiful celebration of the New Year. The God with his disk has come to see him. Nehebkau gives him reputation, and the goddess with her disk, with godly body, rejuvenates him in his sanctuary. Tchnt tpjt jnr  is content because of her majesty. She praises Re because of him with praise for his Ka, with wine from schfjt and meat bits on the altar before him. The “land-of-Atum” is prepared with his most distinguished plan, as Hu and Sia are subordinated to him. He may protect the son of Re, forever. “

Electrical engineers have studied the design and determined that the carvings on the temple walls actually represent a type of lightbulb called a Crookes tube. Chris Dunn explains in his book, “The Giza Power Plant”;Graphic of a Crookes tube (lightbulb)

“When the [Crookes] tube is in operation, the ray originates where the cathode electrical wire enters the tube to the opposite end. In the temple picture, the electron beam is represented as an outstretched serpent. The tail of the serpent begins where a cable from the energy box enters the tube, and the serpent’s head touches the opposite end. In Egyptian art, the serpent was the symbol of divine energy….  “

This video shows Erich von Daniken present while a Crookes tube is being lit:


The temple seems to show a various renditions of this tube. Another temple drawing shows one tube, on the extreme left of the picture, to be operating under normal conditions. But with the second tube, situated closest to the energy box to the right, an interesting experiment has been portrayed. Michael R. Freeman, an electric and electromagnetic engineer, believes that the solar disc on Horus’ head is a Van de Graaf generator, an apparatus which collects static electricity. A baboon is portrayed holding a metal knife between the Van de Graaf-solar disc and the second tube. Under actual conditions, the static charge built up on the knife from the generator would cause the electron beam inside the Crookes tube to be diverted from the normal path, because the negative knife and negative beam would repel each other. In the temple picture, the serpent’s head in the second tube is turned away from the end of the tube, repulsed by the knife in the baboon’s hand.

According to Dunn, all aspects of the Denderah reliefs correspond exactly to modern electrical specifications. The bulb size and shape, the position of the elements relative to each other, and even the wiring patterns and insulators all match their modern counterparts. The arrangement and variations in the examples of how to manipulate the electrical energy of the bulb is also strongly reminiscent of modern scientific diagrams, the only major difference being the use of symbolic imagery, such as gods and animals, to communicate certain concepts. – Source: Mysterious World.

But if there were electric lights, how were they powered? There seems to be another out of place artifact that has been given some attention, the Baghdad Battery. This jar-shaped artifact is designed in the configuration of a crude but accurate battery. Using wine or citrus juice as an electrolyte, if it had been connected to others, it could have done some serious electrical voltage.

 On the Discovery channel program Mythbusters, the Baghdad battery “myth” was put to the test.

On Mythbusters’ 29th episode (which aired on March 23, 2005), the Baghdad battery “myth” was put to the test. Ten hand-made terracotta jars were fitted to act as batteries. Lemon juice was chosen as the electrolyte to activate the electrochemical reaction between the copper and iron. (Oddly enough, it was discovered that a single lemon produced more voltage than one of the batteries). When all of the batteries were linked together, they produced upwards to 4 volts. Then, the major question was, “What were these ancient batteries used for?”

The show’s research staff discovered three possible reasons: Electroplating, Medical pain relief (through Acupuncture), and Religious experience. It was discovered that the “linked” batteries indeed had sufficient power to electroplate a small token. For acupuncture, the batteries produced a “random” pulse that could be felt through the needles; however, it began to produce a painful burning sensation when the batteries were grounded to two needles at once. For the religious experience aspect of the batteries, a replica of the fabled Ark of the Covenant was constructed, complete with two angels. Instead of linking the angels’ golden wings to the low power batteries, an electric fence generator was connected. When touched, the wings produced a strong feeling of tightness in the chest. Although the batteries themselves had not been used, it was surmised that, due to the apparent lack of knowledge of electricity, any form of electrical sensation from them could equate to the “divine presence” in the eyes of ancient people. In the end, the Baghdad battery myth was found “plausible” on all three accounts.

SOURCE – Wikipedia


    * Dubpernell, G., “Evidence of the use of primitive batteries in antiquity”. Selected Topics in the History of Electrochemistry, The Electrochemical Society, I-22 Princetn, NJ. 1978.
    * Eggert, G., “The Enigma of the ‘Battery of Baghdad”. Proceedings 7th European Skeptics Conference. 1995.
    * Eggert, G., “The enigmatic ‘battery of Baghdad”. Skeptical Inquirer, May-June 1996 V20 N3 PG31(4).
    * MacKechnie, J. C. “An Early Electric cell?” Journal of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, 6:356-57. 1960.
    * Paszthory E., “Electricity generation or Magic? The analysis of an unusual group of finds from Mesopotamia”. MASCA Research Papers in Science and Technology 6:31-8. 1989.
    * Zymet, Matthew, “Electric Artifact”. The Learning Channel.

Posted on April 14, 2008 on 2:48 pm | In AA_Theory, Artifacts | 6 Comments


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  1. Those BULBS were actually TEST TUBES (as in TEST TUBE babies). Dont forget it was a FERTILITY TEMPLE in honor of HATHOR. I think many OVERLOOK this OBVIOUS connection BIRTH/FERTILITY!

    Comment by The Messenger — October 23, 2008 #

  2. RE: the possibility that these light bulbs are test tubes. This is a good observation and it is important to consider those possibilities. However, let me point out that purpose of the temple of Hathor was not limited to fertility. Hathor also represented healing, love, joy, and beauty which were also associated with this site. Any medical procedure including an artificial insemination would require solid and steady light to perform with accuracy. This temple is otherwise quite dark. How does one describe beauty without seeing?

    The obvious possibilities if they were (quite oversized) test tubes would suggest connections with Babylon, namely Enki and Ninhursag who according to Z.Sichin were the first geneticists. If you have some references, please list them.

    Comment by Admin — October 24, 2008 #

  3. Would YOU draw test tubes LIKE that? What are you looking for? The brand “GENERAL ELECTRIC” in Egyptian hieroglyphs on those objects to convince you they were light bulbs?

    Comment by Anon Emus — February 5, 2009 #

  4. no one shows the blueprint of the subterranean levels. no one shows where this chamber of technology is located.

    Comment by john — November 24, 2009 #

  5. Thats very bold to suggest that Ninhursag, Enki’s sister, may have been Hathor.

    Comment by Jeff — January 6, 2011 #

  6. David Talbott: Exposing the Myths of “Settled Science” | NPA19

    Comment by eileen — December 23, 2013 #

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