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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Egyptian cat god's 2,200-year-old temple unearthed in Alexandria

A 2,200-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat god Bastet has been unearthed in Alexandria, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said today.

The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era building were discovered by Egyptian archaeologists in the port city founded by Alexander the Great around 331BC. Alexandria was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt for 300 years until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.

The council's statement said the temple was thought to belong to Queen Berenice II, wife of Ptolemy III who ruled between 246BC–222BC.

Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archaeologist who led the excavation team, said the discovery may be the first trace of the long-sought location of Alexandria's royal quarter.

The large number of statues depicting Bastet found in the ruins, he said, suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat god to be discovered in Alexandria. This would indicate that the worship of the ancient Egyptian cat-god continued during the later, Greek-influenced, Ptolemaic period

Statues of other ancient Egyptian deities were also found in the ruins, he added.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said the temple may have been used in later times as a quarry as evidenced by the large number of missing stone blocks.

The temple was found in the Kom el-Dekka area near the modern city's main train station and home to a Roman-era amphitheatre and well-preserved mosaics.

You can see a picture and read the original story at this link: Cat
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