The ancient civilizations recognized in the cycles of the motion of the stars the possibility to measure the time for theological, religious and agricultural purposes. The Egyptians associated the study of the celestial vault to its representation offering splendid figurations and the firmament of that time. Beginning from the V dynasty, the vault of the sarcophagus chamber was very often decorated with silver five-pointed stars on a dark blue background. However, during the New Kingdom period the vault was enriched by symbols and gods, and the sky was represented in the centre of the vault, in the specular form of the goddess Nut’s body, with the diurnal and night motion of the Sun represented inside it, while to its sides there are the planets and the known constellations. The zodiac, that we know today, has been introduced during the Greek-Roman period, but in some cases it derives from the constellations already located by the ancient Egyptian astronomers during the New Kingdom period, like the Ursa Major ("Leg of the Ox"), Orion (a god) or Sirius (the goddess Soped with a cone-shaped hat). The Aquarius derives from the god Hapy, the spirit of the Nile, intent on pouring the water from its cave; from the Pharaoh shooting an arrow from his cart, and turns himself in "Shed": the human bust unifies with the body of the horse, creating the Sagittarius, and so on. These and other stars of the sky are admirably represented with bright colours on a blue background in the sarcophagus chamber of the tomb of Sethi I, of Ramses IV, of Ramses VI and of Ramses IX. It is possible to admire one of the first and most complete representations of the sky (on ochre background) in a non-royal tomb, that is, in the vault of chamber A of the second tomb of Senenmut in Deir el-Bahari (TT 353). The chamber ceiling is divided in two parts: in the superior one, decorated with a series of stars and constellations, it is possible to locate (single out, recognise) Orion and Canis Major (Great Dog); the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus; while in the inferior part, 8 circles are represented at the right side and 4 at the left; the inscriptions to them associated tell us that they are the representation of the passing of the time: a year of 12 months, each of them of 30 days and every day consisting of 24 hours. It is good to remember that Senenmut, chief architect and vizier during the kingdom of Hatshepsut, is considered one of the greatest wise men of his time (first halves the XV century B.C.).
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