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Djed: Level 2: The Serpent Crypts of Dendera
by Jon D. Jefferson

It never ceases to amaze me just how awesome and mysterious the ancient
Egyptian pharonic culture cintinues to be in my mind, even after many years of
research. The sheer magnitude of its art and architecture often overwhelms
the brain: just when I think I have finally found hidden meaning in one abstract
concept, I again find myself asking whether this is truly the intended meaning
behind it. What were these ancient people really trying to convey to us in their
stone texts? What were they thinking, and to what end were they trying to por-
tray as they carved and painted their glyph-pictures in stone? Surely they knew
their stone legacies would last for millenia, but did they expect the later gen-
erations to understand their intended message?
Sometimes I think that only through a time-travel journey back to the
time when the artists were chiseling the gyphs into stone reliefs, would be how
anyone of us in our own time can come to any definitive understandings of all
these infernal questions: we would have to ask the originators themselves!
I can just see myself on one such trip back in time. standing there dumbfounded
in the hot desert sabd hills, asking a supervisor/priest overseeing the quarry-
man and sculptors:"Oh, by the way sir, can you translate that last inscription
for me? You see, I come from a future time, and we really haven't yet learnt
how to properly interpret all of your stone monuments' inner meanings; would you
be so kind and tell me?" I am then answered back with hoots of derision and
howls of laughter from the quarry-men !
So here i am today, on the brink of a new millenium; add yet another
thousand years onto the already 5000+ years that these enigmas in stone have
stood in silence to those that do not know how to read them. Try, try i must:
just to unravel the mystery behind one stone wall's tale would be worth the
searching of a lifetime; that is, to me it would. How about you?
* * * * * * * * *

Dendera, a Greek transliteration of the Egyptian 'Enet-t-neter' ,
("home of the goddess"), is the temple decicated to the neterw Hat-Hor, patron-
ess of earthly love, and of healing. First begun under the last of the Ptolemy
rulers, and completed under Ceaser Augustus, circa 14 AD, the temple is itself
built upon the site of a succession of much earlier structures dedicated to
Osiris. An inscription found in one of the many subterranean crypts states the
original Osirian temple has been built "according to a plan written in ancient
writing upon a goatskin scroll from the time of the Companions of Horus". Thus,
the first century BC Ptolemaic architects were claiming that the first actual
temple dates back to the legendary prehistoric era of Zep Tepi: the First Time!
Modern scholars date the oldest known stone block still extant in the temple
dates back to the Middle Kingdom reign of pharaoh Amenemhet I, XII Dyn. 1990 BC.
It has been suggested that the Egyptian priest/architects in the first
century BC, as guardians of the ancient wisdom, sensed these Ptolemaic times
in which they lived were indeed the very last days of the millenia long ancient
Pharonic dynasties. Temple building, the rituals of worship, and the life that
they had lived in the long tradtion of their forefathers, were all coming to an
end. To prevent the sacred writings and teachings from revisionist tampering,
and, ultimately, from their disappearance altogether, they enshrined texts that
were formerly secret on the interior and exterior walls of the Dendera temple.
Thousands of square feet of stone wall were inscribed with secret texts that
formerly only the priests,scribes and their initiates were then privy to.
So vast is the quantity of material available to modern scholars, that, to this
day, they are still working on deciphering it all. There is one major problem:
scholars familiar with Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptian hieroglyphic writing
systems can hardly read Ptolemaic Egyptian without further specialization.
The Ptolemaic scribes had formed a complex overlaying system, where new combin-
ations of signs were formed into puns and word games, thus making the already
difficult task of translation that much tougher still!

It is on the upper level temple ceiling that the famed zodiac of Dendera
was located: it is the only known circular zodiac ever found in Egypt. The
French removed the original zodiac, cutting it out of the ceiling rock, and
shipped it overseas; it is now on display in the Louvre museum. A plaster cast
replicate has replaced the original in the ceiling. What a shame! (The circular
zodiac's history is another story in itself.)

Hat-Hor was the patroness of healing: one of Dendera's most important
functions was that of a healing center, the equivalent to that of a hospital.
Pilgrims came for miraculous cures, and all manners of magical and psychological
therapies were practiced there. It is at this juncture that I return to the Djed
quest: in two different locations, one in room #17 among the upper level
chambers, and the second in the subterranean crypt directly beneath room #22,
(the "holy of holies" of the temple, called the 'Venerable House'), are found
some of the most unusual and mysterious hieroglyphic wall carvings in all of
Egypt, from any era. Scholars today cannot explain them in any tradtional terms,
in either a religious, historical or mythic context. I emplore the reader, if at
all possible, to obtain either photos or illustrations of these remarkable wall
reliefs before I continue on. It is said, "a picture is worth a thousand words".
and in this case, I can assure you that indeed that saying rings true. Having
a graphic rendition of these reliefs will help the reader to better grasp the
textual descriptions with the images before him/her for reference. [6]
(Please see Notes #1 & 2 below).

In the upper chamber room, the top most panel depicts temple priests
holding what appears to be tube-like objects, each having a serpent extending
its full length inside the tube. From the base of each tube, a thick braided
cable runs along the full length of the floor of the picture;each then terminate
into a box object, atop which sits an image of Atum-RA: hands outstretched,
with the sun-disk on his head. The front of each oblong tube is supported under-
neath with a djed pillar. The left-most tube's djed has two outstretched arms
extending from the djed's second-level (from the top), which is also supporting
the bottom of the tube. On the floor underneath the right-most tube kneel two
people facing each other; arms parallel and with both hands touching.
In crypt underneath room #22, one panel portrays two oblong tube objects
facing each other, each one held in the arms of a standing priest,and each tube
containg an undulating serpent. The same braided cables are connected from each
tube bases into the Atum-RA box. In this scene, only the right-most tube has a
Djed pillar supporting the tube's top end; extended arms from the djed's third
level also support the tube bottom. The left-most tube's front end is this time
supported by the extended arms of the Atum-RA figure on the box underneath the
tube. In a wall panel opposite the above, a single tube (with same character-
istics as above description) is shown; however, this time the djed's arms extend
from the djed top *into* the tube itself, and is shown supporting the serpent!
Underneath are shown the two kneeling people; a third figure sits facing the
djed. There is a seperate panel where two priests are shown holding a single
serpent, who is not contained inside of a tube, but is shown connecting to the
Atum-RA box. There are also two seperate panels which show just an up-right tube
with just the single serpent within; no attached cables or attendants are shown.
All around these images are carved hieroglyphic inscriptions; but since the
script is in Late Ptolemaic, scholars have yet to decipher them. If and when
they do, just what will be revealed about the enigmatic serpent tube scenes?

Having an electronics background, my initial analysis of these scenes is
that they are portraying electrical device systems, known in our times as Crooke
electronic tubes. The outstretched serpents, an Egyptian symbol of the divine-
cosmic energy principle, represents the electronic beam: a fluorescent ray of
electrons originates where the electric cables from the energy source ( RA box),
enters the tube base (serpents' tail), and extends the tube's full length to the
opposite end (serpents head). The djed pillar here is equivalent to an electic-
al energy storage device, known as a condenser - capacitor, of the high-voltage
type associated in producing electronic energy beams. The braided cables are
in fact the same symbol used to indicate bundled pairs of wires in modern elec-
trical schematics. How appropiate the power generation box-device is portrayed
as the Atum-Ra Sun symbol! The Crooke's tube is the forerunner of modern day
televsion picture tubes,as well as that of the fluoroscope, an x-ray instrument
used for diagnosing internal injuries.I could go into a long technical dis-
cussion here about how the scenes depict electro-static experiments involving
a modern day appuratus known as the Van de Graaff generator, but I will leave
that for a seperate sidebar, if anyone is interested in the details. The con-
nection I want to make here is that since the Temple of Dendera was a healing
center, I believe that the scenes show how electrically produced energy fields
where somehow used for radiation treatments, the exact type and purpose is not
really known at this time. In one crypt scene, it clearly shows energy rays
being transferred from the tube bottom to the top of the heads of two people
sitting directly underneath the tube! In fact, I believe the whole purpose of
the djeds underneath the tubes was not so much for support, or even insulation,
but was used to directly receive and store the energy being generated from the
tubes. I will go into much further analysis of the djed as energy transformation
symbols in the next level. For now, I want to say that these cryptic serpent
scenes at Dendera are the only ones I have seen in Egypt, of any era, which do
portray the djed as an actual device; but to say that all djed symbolism any-
where is a representation of a condenser-capacitor is shallow and incomplete.
It will be my goal to show how by taking the djed out of context, and to let it
stand alone as just a symbol of stability and/or a device, is wrong: the djed
must be viewed as part of a whole set of symbols, and the combined picture will
be seen to represent mans' spiritual potential in the eternal life to come.

Taken as a whole, and now knowing what we do about the methods and goals
of the Ptolemaic era priests-keepers of the ancient wisdom, in one of the last
Egyptian temples to be built, in no way sheds ultimate light on their complete
and combined meanings: I would be a fool to say I know for certain all there is
to know about what is going on in these scenes. In many ways, having understand-
ing of only a small part of the whole, only deepens the mystery for me. One age
old question scholars have is this: just how did the ancients light their
subterranean tombs and underground passageways? Their elaborately carved and
painted stone walls & ceilings often show no signs of smoke residue or evidence
of carbon-soot burn markings. If they worked by torch-light, why are there no
smoke related remains found in tunnels & tombs? The theory that systems of re-
flective mirrors were used, bringing sunlight from the entrances, doesn't ac-
count for the light to penetrate into the deepest tunnel ends, because the
intervening passageways consisted of winding stairways, and deep twisting turns
for this whole mirror system to work. The fact that we have never found highly
reflective glass mirrors dosen't help, because the other materials that would
have been used, polished iron and/or brass, would not have gotten the job done,
either. This brings us back to the serpents in the tubes: where these the dev-
ices the ancients used to light their way? I do not think the serpents were
what we know today as light-bulb type filaments, but I do think they portray
electrical rays and/or electronic beams; what else can they be? Now, here is
where I really need time-travel to see for myself what the hell was really
going on back then!

(1):The first published photos and illustrations of the upper chamber and lower
subterranean crypt room reliefs by western Egyptologists (late 1800's) are:

B.Porter and R.L.Moss, _Topographical Bibliography of ancient Egyptian Hiero-
glyphic Texts,Reliefs and Paintings_ , Vol6. Upper
Egypt; _Chief Temples_, p.68 & 186.

A.Mariette, _Dendera_ , Vol 2, plate XLIX
E.Chassinat,_Le Temple de Dendera_, Vol 2, pl. CXLIV, and pls. CXLVII-CXLIX

(2):The most complete source of illustrations that I have seen is contained in:
Joesph R. Jochmans, _Forgotten Ages_, Alma Tara Pub., 1995 (spiral-bound ms.)

Refs: (not in order)
_Investigating the Unexplained_, Ivan Sanderson, Prentice Hall, 1972
_Kulturer Fore Istiden_, Ivan Troeng, Nybloms; Uppsala, Sweden, 1964
_Electicity in Ancient Times_, Rheinhard Habeck, Pursuit Magazine, Jan-1985
_Ancient Mysteries of Africa_, David H. Childress, Adventures UnLtd, 1989
_Traverlers Key to Ancient Egypt_, John A. West, Alfred Knpph, New York, 1983
_Egyptian Mythology_, Veronica Ions, Hamlyn Pub., England, 1965
_Valley of the Kings_, John Romer, Henry Holt, 1994
_Mummies, Myth & Magic_, Christine ElMahady, Thames&Hudson, England, 1989
_Eyes of the Sphinx_, E.Van Daniken, Berkley Books, New York, 1996.
_Ancient Man:A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts_, William Corliss, SourceBooks,
(c) .jj./1997