Herodotus Returns

Temple to cat goddess Bastet discovered at Alexandria, Egypt
January 22, 2010, 9:54 am
Filed under: Egypt | Tags: , ,

A temple to the Queen Berenike – wife of Ptolemy III (246-222 BC) – has been unearthed at Alexandria, Egypt. That the temple was dedicated to the cat goddess, Bastet, is interesting, because, until now, Egyptologists did not imagine that Bastet was worshipped in Egypt after the end of the Egyptian period. The head excavator also suggests that this temple may mark the location of Alexandria’s heretofore undiscovered royal quarter.

Dr. Zahi Hawass said the remains discovered are 60 meters by 15 meters, and extend under Ismail Fahmy street. About 600 Ptolemaic statues – amongst which are beautiful depictions of the cat goddess Bastet – were also unearthed.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, Head of Antiquities of Lower Egypt, said that the mission excavating at Kom el Dikka on property of the Alexandria Security Forces included 18 skilled excavators and restorers. The large collection of Bastet statues indicates that the temple was dedicated to her.

The Bastet statues were unearthed in three different areas of the site, alongside other limestone statues of unidentified women and children. Clay pots and bronze and faience statues of different ancient Egyptian deities have also been uncovered, as have terracotta statues of the gods Harpocrates and Ptah.

Early studies on site revealed that the temple’s foundation can be dated to the reign of Queen Berenike – the wife of King Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 BC) – making this the first Ptolemaic temple discovered in Alexandria to be dedicated to Bastet. It also indicates that her worship continued in Egypt after the decline of the ancient Egyptian era.

More on the newly discovered temple.


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