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Temple of ancient cat goddess found in Egypt

A statue of the cat goddess Bastet found in the temple. A statue of the cat goddess Bastet found in the temple.
Associated Press / January 20, 2010

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CAIRO - Archeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat goddess Bastet the Supreme Council of Antiquities said yesterday.

The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era temple were discovered by Egyptian archeologists in the heart of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.

The city was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt for 300 years until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.

The statement said the temple was thought to belong to Queen Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy III, who ruled Egypt in the third century B.C.

Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archeologist who led the excavation team, said the discovery may be the first trace of the long-sought location of Alexandria’s royal quarter.

The large number of statues depicting Bastet found in the ruins, he said, suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat goddess to be discovered in Alexandria. Statues of other ancient Egyptian deities were also found in the ruins, he added.