Temple of Bastet

Temple of Bastet

The temple of Bastet is one of the main cult temples of the goddess Bastet in the Old Kingdom, which was associated with fertility and often acted as a protective deity. Originally, Bastet was depicted as a lioness and later as a cat.

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According to the Greek historian “Herodotus”, who visited “Per Bastet” in the 5th century BC, despite other temples being more majestic in appearance, none was more beautiful than the temple of Bastet. This temple would have been surrounded by two channels and lined with trees, thus allowing a fantastic view of the city.

During the 22nd Dynasty, when Per Bastet became the capital of Egypt, the temple of Bastet was extended. As a result, a lot of material from earlier structures was re-used. The oldest are two red granite blocks dating to the 4th Dynasty, king Khufu (c.2589–2566 BC) and king Khafre (c.2558–2532 BC).

Additions to this temple were continued by the second king of the 22nd Dynasty, Osorkon I (c.924–889 BC), with his name, frequently appearing at the entrance of the temple. The site contained a monumental gate beyond the peristyle courtyard. This gate was built by Osorkon II and decorated with scenes of him celebrating the Heb Sed Festival.

A long colonnade in the far west leads to a hypostyle hall, also built by Osorkon II, containing papyrus and Hathor columns. The far west end of the temple, which comprised the Holy of Holies in the complex (the sanctuary), was renewed by the last Egyptian king of the 30th and final Dynasty, King Nectanebo II (360–343 BC).


Geophysical investigations undertaken at the excavation site of Bubastis (Eastern Nile Delta, Egypt) found evidence of the existence and location of the sacred canals of Bubastis that Herodotus described in the 5th century BCE. None of the primary archaeological missions has reported the remains of these canals. Drilling and sediment analyses in 2018 revealed clayey/silty deposits in the centre of the site at depths below 2.5 m above sea level, close to the northern enclosure of the Temple of Bastet. The recovered sediments, with a thickness of at least four metres, were situated below the floor level of the Temple of Bastet of the 1st mill. BCE and contained fragments of pottery as well. DCR (direct current resistivity) and 2D electrical surveying confirmed the drilling results. These geophysical investigations indicated trench-formed layers of low resistivity values adjunct to the northern enclosure of the Temple of Bastet. Therefore, the recovered deposits were interpreted as infills that were most likely accumulated in a fluvial system of shallow energy, e.g. an ox-bow lake, (abandoned) channel or lake. Presumptively, this waterway was prone to refilling, but also to infilling, by a tributary situated north or north-west of the Temples of Bastet and Pepi I.