Painted Sandstone Relief of Bes
This painted, raised relief of Bes stands near the Roman Gate (back left) of the Temple
of Hathor at Dendara. Bes is the Egyptian household god who protected mother and child
during childbirth. He is a bow-legged muscular dwarf with a ferocious facial expression.
His guardianship role was suited to his appearance, which was supposed to frighten
away evil spirits.
Bes provided protection for the common folk, royalty, and even deities. This image
of Bes is near the mammisi, the birth house/temple of the minor god, Ihy [pronounced
ih-hee], the son of Hathor and Horus (see The Temple of Horus at Edfu). Ihy is also
known as Horus-Sematawy [pronounced sem-ah-tah-wee], "Horus Uniting the Two Lands."
Massive mudbrick enclosure walls (back right) surround the Dendara temple complex,
most of which was constructed during the late Ptolemaic and early Roman Periods. The
area had been sacred for millennia, because ruins dating from the Old Kingdom through
the Late Period have been found.