Esna IV


David Klotz

This is a continuation of my ongoing quest to translate all the Roman inscriptions from Esna temple. The previous two volumes are now complete, and can be found here: Esna II and Esna III. I will continue to make changes and updates to those, including desperately needed proofreading.

The Present Volume

Esna IV covers the architraves along the ceiling of the pronaos. The ceiling of the temple was conceived in antiquity as a replica of the sky, so constellations and other astronomical figures were projected over this space. As such, many of the texts are captions to the various figures, while the longer inscriptions link various astrological concepts to the local theology of Esna.

Many of the longer texts were already translated with commentary by Von Lieven 2000, with alternate readings by Kurth 2004. The very detailed, over-sized hieroglyphs along the architraves were analyzed by Meeks 2004. Finally, the representations of the various stars, decans, and constellations have been analyzed elsewhere, most recently by Mendel 2022 (non vidi).

In the past few years, a joint Egyptian-German project has carefully removed soot from the ceiling, revealing newly visible painted details, particularly affecting the captions and iconographic details of the astronomical figures. Progress so far has been published in el-Leithy et al. 2019 and el-Leithy et al. 2021. One may also compare various media reports on this amazing work, as well as a recent (October 2022) lecture on the subject by Prof. Christian Leitz:

Until the photographs of all the new captions are published by the Egyptian-German project, this website will only translate the longer texts. I will not attempt to identify all of the celestial figures, or translate the small captions.

All the published volumes of Esna temple were recently (2021) released as open-access PDFs by the IFAO. Each translation will contain a link to the original hieroglyphic text, and details about secondary literature, drawing heavily from the Tempeltexte 2.0 database.

So far, 32/74 (43.2%) of the texts from Esna IV are complete and online. As with previous volumes, the present transliterations and translations are provisional, and I plan to proofread and standardize spellings after I have completed the remaining Esna volumes, and prepare comprehensive indexes.


I welcome any feedback for this project, whether regarding the format, corrections, alternative suggestions for translations, or notes to any important references I might have overlooked. Or perhaps you would like to volunteer to translate certain texts! You may contact me directly at . I will of course fully acknowledge any suggestions, and add you to the list of contributors.

I would also appreciate help with relevant bibliography, especially newer monographs. I already have most basic references in digital or paper form, but if you noticing any major omissions, please let me know.


Daniel Arpagaus; Maged Mahgoub; Abraham I. Fernández Pichel