The first thing I noticed when entering the exhibit was this magnificient ceiling.
Remember, click to see it larger
© Joan Lansberry, May 2008

"The ceiling design is based on a nineteenth-century artist's imitation of an astronomical calendar that once decorated the ceiling of the main temple of the goddess Hathor in southern Egypt. The blue circle, surrounded by various gods and goddesses, represents the night sky. The odd creatures shown within it are ancient Egyptian zodiac signs." (From the museum website)

The Dendera Zodiac is now housed at the Louvre Museum. The original is now unpainted (photo credit, "Sebi", Wikipedia site), but very likely it had been painted in brilliant colors very similar to the ones the Brooklyn Museum artist chose.

Dendera was the site of an important festival, the New Year festival. The star Sirius, which the ancients called Sopdet, was significant to them for various reasons. The nearness of the sun to Sirius for seventy days time made it invisible, which disturbed the ancients. When at last it could be seen at pre-dawn, just before the sun rises, it indicated to them the beginning of their new year,Wep Renpet (Opener of the Year). This helialic rising of a star that had not been visible for seventy days was a sign to the ancients that world order had been re-established. "The Egyptians called the heliacal rising of Sirius "Peret Sepdet", the 'going forth' of Sirius." (_Sirius Matters_, by Noah Brosch, page 16) This was a cause for rejoicing:

"Detail from the square zodiac from the Hathor temple at Denderah, showing Sirius as a star between the horns of the cow Hathor" who is reclining in a boat.
The photo above is a crop and rotate from a Wikipedia photo by Olaf Tausch

"Radiant rises the golden one (Hathor-Isis-Sirius) above the the forehead of her father (near but in advance of the sun), and her mysterious form is at the head of his solar boat ... As her fellow-divinities (the other stars) unite with her father's rays and as they merge with the glittering of his disk, Dendera is joyful... There is a festive mood as they behold the great one, the firming striding creator of feasts in the holy city, on that beautiful day of the new year."
(As quoted in _Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations_, by Edwin C. Krupp, page 257)

The heavenly cow is visible on the Brooklyn ceiling as well, on the lower left in my photo.