The True Meaning Of The Dendera Light

The Dendera light is a motif carved into the walls of the Hathor Temple in the Dendera temple complex in Dandarah, Egypt. The image, depicted across three stone reliefs inside the temple, shows a unique depiction of what, at first glance, looks to be a light bulb shaped like a Crookes tube, with a cord snaking through the middle. One figure appears to be holding the bulb up, over the surrounding figures, directing the light upward. 

The imagery has stirred up some controversy among Egyptologist circles. Some more conspiracy-minded researchers believe the images could really be depicting an electrical light bulb. They believe this could be proof that ancient Egyptians used modern lighting fixtures, which would lend some credence to the controversial theory that ancient civilizations had access to more advanced technology than is typically acknowledged, according to Atlas Obscura. There is little evidence to support this claim, however, and most Egyptologists interpret the motif as depicting symbols that are linked to Egyptian mythology.

The sun rising across the sky

Most experts believe that what appears to be a light bulb is actually an image of a lotus flower and a djed pillar, which is a symbol of stability in Egyptian mythology. The bulb-shaped structure symbolizes the womb of Nut, the ancient Egyptian goddess of the sky. According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the lotus flower was an infinite creation, which gave birth to the sun god. The cord running through the figure is actually a snake, which represents the sun god, rising through the lotus flower. Therefore, the reliefs represent the sun rising and moving across the night sky. 

The texts around the images support this interpretation, as they make reference to a god rising from the lotus flower, according to Ancient Origins. As interesting as it might be to speculate about other possibilities, it seems the experts are pretty certain the only light the famous Dendera light motif is referencing is the sun, not a modern light bulb.