It’s time to talk about the Dendera Light. The above motif was found carved onto a wall at Hathor temple at Dendera. Is this evidence that the ancient Egyptians had electric lighting? Or is the explanation much more simple? Read on.

A Norwegian engineer was the first person to propose that the ancient Egyptians were depicting a lightbulb. You can see why people may think about this. The long, stretching object going through the middle looks like a filament and the object around it looks like glass tubing. The relief competes with a coiled-like base and a cord coming from the end.

So what is really going on here?

The explanation is quite simple. What you are looking at is a mythological depiction of a Djed pillar and a Lotus flower spawning a snake inside of it. These are important aspects of Egyptian mythology. The Djed pillar is a symbol of stability and the snake coming from the lotus flower symbolises fertility which is linked to the flooding of the Nile. There are many ancient depictions of a lotus in the shape of a ‘lamp’ similar to the relief above.

Even though this explanation is concrete, it doesn’t stop thousands and thousands of people flocking to Dendera to catch a glimpse of this interesting carving - to see an ancient lightbulb for themselves.