2,000-year-old temple dedicated to cat god found in Egypt

January 20th, 2010 - 2:28 pm ICT by ANI  

London, January 20 (ANI): Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 2,000-year-old temple in Alexandria dedicated to a cat goddess.

According to a report by BBC News, the temple is the first trace of the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be revealed in Alexandria.

The temple, discovered in the Kom el-Dekkah neighbourhood of the city, is believed to belong to Queen Berenike II, wife of Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the third century BC, according to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The temple is the first part of the royal palace to be unearthed, and it is 60m (200ft) high and 15m (50ft) wide.

Archaeologists found statues of Bastet, worshipped by the Greek-speaking Egyptians as the moon goddess.

The find confirms the Greek dynasty of Egyptians continued the worship of ancient animal deities.

For thousands of years, the Egyptian Pharaohs believed Bastet was a lion-headed goddess, a relative of the sun god Ra and a ferocious protector.

But her influence waned as the Pharaohs declined, and the Hellenistic Egyptians resurrected her as the equivalent of the ancient Greek deity Artemis.

Other artefacts were also discovered in the dig, including pots, a Roman water cistern, and the granite statue of a senior official dating from between 205BC to 222BC.

According to archaeologists, many more ruins of the ancient capital of Hellenic Egypt lie preserved under the modern city, yet to be unearthed.

Leading Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass has said that the temple may have been used as a quarry in later years, as there are a large number of missing blocks. (ANI)

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