by Marwa Yahya, Ahmed al-Afyouni
QENA, Egypt, June 22 (Xinhua) — In a unique astronomical phenomenon, the sun illuminated six ancient temples on Tuesday in five provinces across Egypt, signaling the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Marking the first day of the summer in the ancient Egyptian calendar, the sun falls perpendicular to the sacred rooms in the temples of Ramses III and Ptah in Karnak complex in Luxor, Dendera in Qena, Edfu in Aswan, Hibis in New Valley, and Abydos in Sohag.
Inside the Dendera temple, the sun penetrated at 11:30 a.m. local time the ceiling openings of the temple and stayed on the Quds el-Aqdas (Holy of Holies) of Hathor, the goddess of the sky, women, fertility, and love.
“The phenomenon which is repeated on June 21 every year is one of the attractions for tourists,” Abdel Hakeem al-Saghir, chairman of Dendera Temple complex, told Xinhua.
Illuminating goddess Hathor by the sun rays reflected how the ancient engineers were genius in construction, building, and astronomical calculations, he added.
The summer solstice was especially important in ancient Egypt because it heralded the coming of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Shortly after Sirius arrived each year, the Nile River would overflow its banks and the flood season would begin, which the Egyptians relied on to nourish the land.
Al-Saghir explained that building religious facilities in ancient Egypt began with observing the stars to determine the right direction for worshipping in the temples.
Listening to the explanation from her tour guide, Claudia Peter, a tourist from England, was fascinated by the phenomenon.
“This is a true miracle that I have never seen anywhere else. The science of physics and astronomy was highly progressed in Egypt,” she said, adding “this phenomenon adds a new angle to my understanding of ancient history.”
Mohamed Abdel-Hameed, a researcher in Egyptology, said that “astronomical tourism has become famous in Egypt and many…