THE CAT IN ANCIENT GREECE

The cat made its way to the shores of ancient Greece in several ways.  First, the Greeks and Phoenicians traded scarabs and amulets with the ancient Egyptians, particularly in Egypt’s delta region near the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris or modern day Tell el Daba (Turcan, 1996). And it stands to reason that cats were […]

THE ETRUSCAN CAT

ETRUSCAN CAT HISTORY   The Phoenicians most probably introduced the Egyptian domestic cat to the Etruscans, as there is evidence of the Phoenician trade in Etruscan tombs located in the area of Civeta Castellani  (Hamilton, 1896).  Pictured on many of these tombs walls, the vermin killing domestic cat was familiar to early Etruscans.  On one of […]

THE MYCENAEAN CAT

MYCENAEAN CAT HISTORY   The Mycenaean civilization lasted a mere 500 years ending abruptly due to infighting, the invasion of the Dorians, or an invasion of the “Sea People”.  Primarily warriors, the Mycenaeans enlarged their empire by conquest rather than by trade, as the Minoans had, and inhabited what is today the whole of the […]

THE MINOAN CAT

MINOAN CAT HISTORY Although ancient Egyptians forbid the export of their beloved cats, determined smugglers stole the prized and worshipped animals to trade or sell.  In an effort to reclaim the kidnapped beasts, the ancient Egyptians dispatched whole armies to repatriate them, and in some cases emissaries were even given the duty to buy them […]

BUBASTIS, CITY OF CAT GODDESS BAST (Part III)

During the years 1887-1889, Edouard Naville excavated Bubastis and found huge pits filled with the remains of cremated cats near brick ovens that were blackened from use.  In one pit he found 720 cubic feet of bones, but he noted that in many cases ichneumons (mongoose) were buried along with the cats.  Naville’s find is […]

BUBASTIS, CITY OF THE CAT GODDESS BAST (Part II)

Within the temple of Bubastis, priests cared for cats with donations from pilgrims, and eventually killed and mummified them to be sold as votive offerings to Bast.  Cat amulets and statues made of bronze and gold were also sold to enthusiastic pilgrims especially during the annual festival of Bast.  The Decree of Canopus, a stele […]

BUBASTIS, CITY OF CAT GODDESS BAST

BUBASTIS, PART I Bubastis, a city that had flourished for more than 4,000 years, is today nothing more than piles of scattered red granite blocks and a few empty graves and tombs overgrown by grass.  Bubastis now lies within a fenced area near the modern day city of Zagazig, where 20thcentury apartments look down in […]

SPEOS ARTEMIDOS HOME TO THE CAT GODDESS PAKHET

THE CAT GODDESS PAKHET Not far from Beni Hassan is Speos Artemidos, as named by the Greeks, or cave of Artemis.  Artemis was the equivalent Greek goddess to Bastet.  The cave is located near a small village, which is today called Istabl Antar.  Here, during the Middle Kingdom, Hatshupsut built two temples dedicated to Pakhet, […]

CAT MUMMIES AND TOMB PAINTINGS AT BENI HASSAN

Large numbers of cat mummies and tomb paintings have been found near a small village called Beni Hassan, located 23 kilometers south of Minya, between Asyut and Memphis.  With its necropolis located high in the limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile, it was here that the famous archeologist, Flinders Petrie, found a […]

REFERENCES TO CAT GODDESS BAST IN PAPYRI AND INSCRIPTIONS AT THEBES

Many more references to the cat goddess Bast are present on steles, papyri and inscriptions from the 18th through the 26th Dynasties at Thebes. On a stela in Miramar a man says,  “I gave bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked; I gave food to the ibis, the hawk, the […]

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