The joint Egyptian-German archaeological mission in the Greco-Roman Esna Temple, Egypt, revealed a set of original inscriptions, images and colors covering the ceilings and walls of the majestic monument, working for the temple’s restoration project.

Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the restoration and cleaning work under the middle ceiling above the entrance to the temple located at a height of 14 meters. Here, the drawings depict 46 vultures in two rows; 24 of them carry a vulture’s head and represent Nekhbet, the goddess of Upper Egypt, and the other 22 have a cobra head and represent Wadjet, the goddess of Lower Egypt. No drawing or picture of this ceiling had appeared in Esna Temple’s previous publication by the French Egyptologist Serge Sauneron, who recorded the inscriptions of the temple, between 1963 and 1975.

Dr. Hisham El-Leithi, head of the Central Administration for the Registration of Egyptian Antiquities and head of the archaeological mission from the Egyptian side, added that the Esna temple’s colorful inscriptions had suffered over the past centuries from the accumulation of thick layers of soot, dust and dirt, the remains of birds and bats, spiders’ nests, as well as salt calcifications. The preparation of the restoration-development project aiming at preserving  the unique and distinct inscriptions of this almost 2000 year-old Roman era monument was possible thanks to funding from the American Research Center in Egypt.

For his part, Ahmed Imam, director of the restoration team, said that while cleaning the western wall frieze along the axis of the temple, the team found a Greek inscription drawn in red ink that was completely covered under black soot. Preliminary studies dated that text back to the period of Emperor Domitian (81 -96 AD). The inscription records the day and month (Epiphi 5) of the ancient Egyptian and Coptic calendar, a date corresponding at the end of June or beginning of July. It is likely that this was the time when the construction of the Temple was completed.