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January 19, 2010

Cat Goddess Temple found in Egypt

RELIGION - Archaeologists in Egypt announced today that they have unearthed a Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the ancient cat goddess, Bastet.

Egypt's SCA says the temple dates back approx. 2,100 years and were discovered in the heart of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria (founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.) that ended with the suicide of Cleopatra 300 years later.

The temple was previously thought to be a palace belonging to Queen Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the 3rd century B.C., but new excavations have found a large number of cat statues, along with a few statues of other Egyptian gods, suggesting it was at one time a temple to the cat goddess Bastet. Its believed this cat temple was the first of its kind during the Ptolemaic era.

The temple is now missing quite a few large stones, suggesting it was later used as a quarry by the Romans, likely for a Roman-era amphitheatre down the street in the Kom el-Dekkah neighbourhood.

Modern Alexandria is built on top of the ruins of the ancient city and many of the great temples, palaces and libraries of that time remain under layers of earth and sand.

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