Bastet House, or the cradle of cat worship

Bastet House, or the cradle of cat worship – main image

The right amount of wine from each lioness will make a cat. Bastet, an ancient Egyptian goddess who was once perfidiously deceived, knows something about it.

Stereotypes. Seemingly wrong, sometimes even harmful, but often repeated. According to them, cats are capricious and self-interested, and a woman, like Mickiewicz's miserable fluff, is a changeable creature. What can arise from the combination of the nature of two such unpredictable creatures - a woman and a cat? Certainly an explosive mixture.

How wine changes moods

In ancient times, Egypt was divided into the so-called nomy, and each of them was under the protection of a deity in the form of an animal. In the southeastern Nile delta, a goddess depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness was worshiped. According to beliefs, Bastet was to be the goddess of war and the daughter of the sun god Re, created from his necklace. With the passage of time, she began to be presented not as a dangerous lioness, but as a female cat. One of the many theories explaining this transformation is that of the god Thoth who turned the waters of the Nile into red wine. In a killing spree, Bast threw herself to lash the water, thinking it was blood. She drank and drank until she was drunk. Then Thot transformed her into a cat, and the goddess of war, hungry for murder, became the goddess of beauty and erotic love . By the way, I wonder what Freud would say about this story.

In the past, the city where Bastet was worshiped was called Bubastis or Per-Bastet ("House of Bastet"). Today we know them as Tell Basta. It was in the southeastern delta of the Nile. The Greek historian Herodotus, who came here in the 5th century BC, described Per-Bastet as a city with a beautiful red granite temple situated centrally and surrounded by canals, giving it the appearance of an island. In his account, he drew attention to the lavishly celebrated annual festival in honor of Bastet . About 700 thousand people came to the city. Egyptians to celebrate in the name of the goddess. The historian diplomatically did not focus on the details, only stating that the event was not attended by children, and the participants came to the city in a state of intoxication.

City of the cat goddess today

A city that in the past flowed, if not with milk and honey, then certainly wine, today it sleeps, covered with a thick layer of dust. The bustling hedonistic center is left with gloomy ruins. Since 2008, excavations have been carried out as part of the Tell all-Basta Project . Thanks to them, you can see the remains of the temple, 15 meters wide and 60 meters long, fragments of granite sculptures, walls and foundations of the impressive building. The excavated statuettes of various sizes (over 500) were transferred to the city museum.

At the beginning of the 20th century, numerous silver and gold vessels were found in the ruins, which can be seen today at the Egyptian Antiquity Museum in Cairo. Something else had been found a little earlier - a necropolis with thousands of embalmed cat bodies. It turned out that animals worshiped as sacred were massively bred by greedy priests who then murdered and mummified them to be sold to pilgrims as a gift to the goddess.

Stolen Treasures

Per-Bastet has been plundered many times. There are rumors that many people got rich thanks to illegal excavations and treasures found in the ruins. It is not known whether the vengeful goddess did not take revenge from beyond the grave, punishing the daredevils who dared to take her property.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that the stories about it are more interesting than the place itself. But if someone wanders to the edge of the south-eastern part of the city of Az-Zakazik, between the center and the train station, he can visit Tell Basta and, after paying a ticket (20 EGP), explore the ruins. It is approximately 80 km from Cairo.

Bastet House, or the cradle of cat worship – image 1
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A writer by profession, a passion of a cat. One day he will see what is behind the Urals - good to Vladivostok. So far, when he can, he enjoys the sun of the countries of southern Europe. And it's also fun;)

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