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(Per Bastet - 'The Domain of Bastet')

Modern name - Tell Basta

Capital of the 18th nome in Lower Egypt during the Late Period.

Bubastis was a city in the Delta (eastern Part), it first began its rise to prominence in the 4th Dynasty - it continued to be populated into the Roman Period.

Goddess of the city was the cat goddess - Bast(et)

The city grew in importance in the 19th Dynasty when the capital was moved from Thebes to the Delta.

Bubastis claimed the height of its prosperity in the 22nd Dynasty when Sheshonq I became Pharaoh (he was from Bubastis).


Temples at Bubastis:

 The Great Temple to Bast

Due to the amount of damage suffered by the temple over the years it is not possible for an exact plan of the temple to be produced. However the basic plan of the temple would be:

The temple was originally 200 or 300m long, and was built from red granite.

The entrance hall was built by Osorkon II, a Sed-festival hall and Hypostyle hall built by Osorkon III, a hall was later added by Nectanebo II.

Block from the entrance hall - Osorkon II

Herodotus described the temple when he visited the city in 5BC. He described the temple was standing on an island with two water channels running on its sides:

..which is well worth describing. Other temples may be larger, or have cost more to build, but none is a greater pleasure to look at. The site of the building is almost an island, for two canals have been led from the Nile and sweep round it, one on each side, as far as the entrance, where they stop short without meeting; each canal is a hundred feet wide and shaded with trees. The gateway is sixty feet high and is decorated with remarkable carved figures some nine feet in height. The temple stands in the centre of the city, and, since the level of the buildings everywhere else has been raised, but the temple itself allowed to remain in its original position the result is that one can look down and get a fine view of it from all round. It is surrounded by a low wall with carved figures, and within the enclosure stands a grove of very tall trees about the actual shrine, which is large and contains the statue of the goddess. The whole enclosure is a furlong square. The entrance to it is approached by a stone-paved road about four hundred feet wide, running eastward through the market-place and joining the temple of Bubastis to the temple of Hermes. The road is lined on both sides with immense trees - so tall that they seem to touch the sky.

 

The Temple to Teti

This temples is situated about 250m northwest of the Great Temple of Bastet. Its dimensions are 108m X 50m.

 

The Temple to Pepi I

Although originally 87.5m X 64m, it contained a small square mud-brick temple to Bastet. Like much of the city this structure has almost entirely disappeared - all that now remain are two rows of pillars:

 Jubilee Chapels

The city also had 'jubilee chapels' (built to celebrate the sed-festivals) of Amenemhet III (12th Dynasty) and Amenhotep III respectively.

Colossal head of Amenemhet III found at Bubastis

Burials at Bubastis

There have been Old Kingdom burials, but the burials dating to the New Kingdom are better known due to the objects discovered.

(People known to have been buried here include: Iuti - Vizier during the 19th Dynasty, Hori and Hori - father and son who were both held the office of Viceroy of Kush).

In 1906 a burial hoard dating to the 19th Dynasty was discovered by local Egyptians - a gold lotus cup with the cartouche of Queen Tawosret, three silver jugs inscribed with the name of Atumemtaneb (the King's butler and King's messenger), and two bracelets of Ramesses II.

 Silver jug found at Bubastis with the name of Atumemtaneb (King's butler and King's messenger)

 Gold lotus vessel with the cartouche of Queen Tawosret

Cat Cemeteries

To the north of the city are many vaulted brick cat cemeteries - these date to the 3rd Intermediate Period onwards. It is not known how many cats have been interred in these catcombs - but such was the popularity of the cat cult at Bubastis that it is estimated that the number of cat mummies could be in the millions.