Thursday, January 21, 2010
Cat god found in Egypt
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 2,000-year-old temple 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, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities has said.
The Greek-speaking Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt for almost 300 years, after the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great in 305BC until Queen Cleopatra was ousted by the Romans.
The temple is 60m (200ft) high and 15m (50ft) wide.
Archaeologists found statues of Bastet, worshipped by the Greek-speaking Egyptians as the moon goddess.
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.
Modern-day Alexandria was built directly on top of the ancient city, and archaeologists say ruins of whole cities, palaces and ships remain to be discovered.
The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt were descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's most trusted generals during his conquests of Egypt, Persia and his attack on India.
After Alexander's death, Ptolemy returned to Alexandria to become king and his descendants ruled until the Roman leader Octavian - who later became Emperor Augustus - defeated Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemaic line.
Leading Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said the temple may have been used as a quarry in later years, as there are a large number of missing blocks.