The Dendera light is one of the most difficult objects to explain from the ancient world. In what appears to be an obvious depiction of advanced technology, we are left to wonder what on earth this could have been and how it could have been built in a civilization with no known instances of electricity. Is the Dendera light a relic of some lost ancient technology or are we misinterpreting the image? Is it evidence of an ancient Egyptian electric device?
The Dendera light is a reference to a relief found in the Temple of Hathor. The image, shown above, seems to show a transparent enclosure with a snake inside it. The snake appears in a similar curl pattern to that of modern light bulb filaments. At the end, it is resting on a pillar which looks very similar to an electric coil with arms stretched out where there would normally be positive and negative electrical connections.
Is this another Out of Place Artifact?
Some researches have noted that the temple ceilings show no evidence of soot or smoke residue, which would normally indicate torches were used. At the same time, there is no hard evidence of that an ancient Egyptian electric light bulb existed other than this image. However, as with the Baghdad Battery, there is more than meets the eye.
The Conventional Explanation
According to Wikipedia, the mainstream explanation goes something like this:
The view of Egyptologists is that the relief is a mythological depiction of a djed pillar and a lotus flower, spawning a snake within, representing aspects of Egyptian mythology. The Djed pillar is a symbol of stability which is also interpreted as the backbone of the god Osiris. In the carvings the four horizontal lines forming the capital of the djed are supplemented by human arms stretching out, as if the djed were a backbone. The arms hold up the snake within the lotus flower. The snakes coming from the lotus symbolize fertility, linked to the annual Nile flood.
Although this would fit well with conventional Egyptology, there does not seem to be any similar imagery associated with these very established Egyptian ideas outside of the Dendera complex. Inside the complex, there are numerous other images similar to the one shown above, such as this one:
Testing an Ancient Egyptian Electric Device
Some scientists were so convinced that the Dendera Light is an example of ancient Egyptian electrical knowledge, that they built one themselves and tested it. In the video below, you can see it working:
Although this does appear to be a fully functional lightbulb, it does raise the question as to what the source would have been for an ancient Egyptian electrical system? Perhaps the Baghdad battery is part of this lost technology?
Maybe there are clues within the text itself that is written all around the depictions. And here is where it gets interesting. According to thelivingmoon.com, the text contains these cryptic lines:
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.
That certainly seems to hint more directly at something other than a lotus flower. We may never know exactly what the Dendera Light is but it certainly does seem out of place doesn’t it?