Title Medinet Habu
Type Astronomical Representation
Decan List Family AR1
EAT3 Number and Name 17 Ramses III A
EAT3 Pages and Plates 26-27, Pl 11 (drawing)
EAT3 Decan List Family Senmut A
Publications Nelson and Hoelscher (1929) vol VI Pl. 476; Nims (1977)
Location In situ; Sanctuary of Osiris, Room 25, Medinet Habu, West Bank, Thebes
Date 20th dynasty
Registers 3
Circumpolar Group and Deities Yes: 8 figures behind hippo; 6 [+ 3 lost?] opposite

Superior:  Jupiter, Saturn, Mars

Inferior:  Mercury, Venus

Decan Names Yes
Decanal Stars Yes
Personifications of the Decans No
Cluster Numbers Yes
Depictions of Decanal Constellations Yes
Decanal Deity Names Yes
Decanal Deity Figures No
Lunar Months Yes: 12 figures labelled with the names of the lunar months
Civil Months Yes: along the top of the diagram, starting presumably with III Peret on the right (now missing)
Nut No
Other features In the middle of the lowest register, directly under the circumpolar group and Sahu and Sopdet, there is a depiction of a baboon sitting on a djed-pillar.  This is a direct analogue to a typical water clock over-spout decoration.

The vaulted ceiling was carved and painted, with some colour surviving.  The ceiling is a direct copy of the Ramesseum (Second Hypostyle Hall) ceiling, but with some significant differences in the layout of the decan list.

The ceiling has been restored in situ but there are many pieces missing, particularly at the each end.  Three barques for three superior planets can still be traced, but no triangle decans or inferior planets survive.


 17MedinetHabu  schematic


Legend for Schematic
C Circumpolar group of constellations
A Circumpolar attendant deities
D Decans
P Planets
M Lunar months (figures and labels, with King offering)
X Other cosmic deities: a baboon sitting on a djed-pillar
 Hippo symbol

Location and orientation of the circumpolar hippo

 Human symbol 

Indicates the starting point and directionality of list or procession of figures

Decan List

The list gives an approximate layout for how the decans, deities, cluster labels (x-nwt Xt), and decanal figures (in bold) are arranged.  However, the only way of perceiving the complete layout and orthography of the labels is by consulting photographs, drawings, or the original.  For conventions and abbreviations, see below the table.

The ceiling is almost identical to Ramesseum (Second Hypostyle Hall), and is thought to be a direct copy (Nelson and Hoelscher, 1929 pp x-xi).  Neugebauer and Parker include these two ceilings in subgroup A of the Senmut family.

EAT3 states: "Decans 21 and 35 omitted and 28, 30, 36 lost as well as all planets, except the first, and triangle decans" (p. 106).  In fact, 17 is lost, 20 and 21 are both lost or more likely omitted, 24-26 are lost, and 28 is clearly present.  These amendments are visible in Nelson and Hoelscher's drawing (below) and were checked in situ in 2013.

tpy-a knmt Hapy, I<m>s<eti>       
3 Xry xpd knmt, 2 knmt Isis
4 HAt DAt, 5 pH<wy> DAt Duamutef, Children of Horus
6 TmAt Hrt, 7 TmAt Xrt Duamutef
8 wSAti, 9 bkAti Duamutef, Hapy
10 tpy-a xntt, 11 <xntt> Hrt Horus, 12 xntt Xrt
(Figure of King)
13 Tms n xntt   Boat
14 sApti xnwy  
Isis, Nephthys, 15 Hry-ib wiA  
16 sSmw  
  [Children of] Horus
18 tpy-a smd Hapy Sheep
19 {spd} <smd> <3->nwt  
Xt, 22 Xry xpd srt Kebehsenuf
23 tpy-a Ax<wy> Duamutef
27 xntw Xrw Children of Horus Sahu  
34 rmn sAH Eye of  
Horus, 32 Hry [rmn] sAH  
28 qd, 29 sAwy [qd] [ ] Children of Horus
31 art Eye of Horus
33 Xry rmn sAH  
Children [of Horus]  
SP1 Hr-tAS-tAwy [ ]



The decan numbers and letters shown here are for the decan family AR1

SP = superior planet

IP = inferior planet

Grey shading = damage

< > = omitted but understood

{ } = included in error

[ ] = damaged text

( ) = explanatory notes or additional material

The number of star symbols accompanying the decans is also omitted here, as it is often impossible to tell to which decan the symbols refer.  EAT3 deals with star symbols in some detail.


From Nelson and Hoelscher (1929), plate 476.

17Medinet Habu image plate 476