Daily Archives: January 25, 2010

Worship of Bastet extended to the Ptolemaic Period

Fox News reported here recently on the discovery of a Greek temple dedicated to the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet.

Egyptian archaeologists unearthed the remains of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Egyptian cat goddess Bastet in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the antiquities department said Tuesday.

The mission, led by Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, head of Antiquities of Lower Egypt, discovered the remains of a temple of Queen Berenike, the wife of King Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt between 246 and 222 B.C., in the Kom al Dikka area in Alexandria.

“The discovered remains are 196 feet tall and 49 feet in width,” antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said in a statement. He said the temple was “subjected to destruction during later eras when it was used as a quarry, which led to the disappearance of many of its stone blocks.”

A group of 600 Ptolemaic statues were also unearthed during the routine excavations, including a large collection of icons depicting Bastet, goddess of protection and motherhood.

The discovery in Kom al Dikka is the first Ptolemaic temple discovered in Alexandria to be dedicated to the goddess Bastet, Abdel Maqsoud was quoted as saying in the statement.

“It indicates that the worship of the goddess Bastet continued in Egypt after the decline of the ancient Egyptian era,” he said.

The Ptolemaic period marks the Greek rule of Egypt from 305 B.C. until the Roman conquest in 30 B.C.

Alexandria became the capital city of Ptolemaic Egypt and thrived as the center of Greek culture and trade.

Bastet. Discovered at Alexandria. AP photo.

Image of Bastet, the cat goddess of Egypt, discovered at Alexandria. AP.

Egypt was noted for the worship of numerous gods. The plagues of Egypt were a judgment against “all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12). Later, in the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the LORD again warned of judgment upon the gods of  Egypt (Jeremiah 43:12-13).

Every time I read Paul’s discussion about the condition of the Gentiles I think of the gods of ancient Egypt.

Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:22-23 NAU)

Bubastis in ancient Egypt was especially devoted to Bastet. The ruins of the city are now surrounded by the city of Zagazig in the Eastern Delta. It was mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel under the name Pi-beseth (Ezekiel 30:17).

Prof. Christian Tietze and a team of Egyptian archaeologists have been working at Tell Basta (Bubastis).

Prof. Christian Tietze and Ferrell Jenkins at Tell Basta, Egypt, 2005.

Prof. Christian Tietze and Ferrell Jenkins at Tell Basta, Egypt, 2005.

The new discovery from Alexandria in the Ptolemaic period shows that the worship of Bastet continued, and was more wide spread than commonly thought.