Bubasteum

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The Bubasteum (Bubasteion from French) was a Ptolemaic and Roman temple complex dedicated to Bastet in the cliff face of the desert boundary of Saqqara. In Arabic the place is called Abwab el-Qotat (بوابات القطط) literally meaning "The Gates of the Cats".

Overview

The temple and funerary complex is enclosed by a massive wall measuring 275 meters in width and 325 meters in length. Situated to the southeast of the Pyramid of Teti and to the south of the Anubieum, the complex comprised a significant entrance in the southern wall, a burial ground for felines, and inhabited areas. During the New Kingdom period, this location had previously been home to a temple dedicated to Bastet, where she was revered as the Lady of Ankhtawy.

Systematic study of the site was first started in 1976 CE by Alain-Pierre Zivie and the first archaeological investigation and excavations began in 1980 CE. In 1986 CE, the French Mission Archéologique Française du Bubasteion (MAFB), was founded, which has overseen all investigations and excavations of the site since then. Although a large part of the archaeological site has been studied; but today only one of the tomb (Wahtye's tomb) is accessible to the public.

Partial List of Tombs

circa 2350 BCE

Tomb of Wahtye
The Tomb of Wahtye dates back to the Old Kingdom period of ancient Egypt, specifically to the fith dynasty, which was around 2400 BCE. This tomb is notable for its well-preserved and elaborately decorated interior, providing valuable insights into the burial practices and beliefs of the time. It is considered an important archaeological discovery that sheds light on the life and status of its owner, Wahtye, who was a high-ranking priest and official during the reign of Pharaoh Neferirkare.

circa 1326 BCE

Tomb of Maia the Wet Nurse
Maya (also spelled as Maia in English) was the wet nurse of king Tutankhamun (circa 1336-1326 BCE). She also held the title "great one of the harem", and the epithets "the one who has suckled the god" and "the greatly praised one of the perfect god" (in both cases, "god" refers to the king). Her tomb, discovered in 1996 CE by the French Archaeological Mission headed by Alain Zivie, is hewn in to the southern escrapment of the Bubasteion necropolis, the temple-funerary complex dedicated to goddess Bastet, in eastern Saqqara.

Maya's rock-cut tomb consists of a rectangular chamber most of which has unfortunately suffered much damage since ancient times. The highlight here is the unique scene on the right, which depicts king Tutankhamun sitting on the lap of his wet nurse Maya or Maia worshipping the deities. On the right, another scene depicts the important funerary ritual of the "Opening of the Mouth" being performed on the mummy of Maya while offerings are being brought for her. On the western wall of this chamber a scene of mourners (inspect) is carved. The ceiling of the third chamber is supported by four rock cut pillars. Although, the decoration on the two sides of each of these pillars was never completed, Maia is depicted on their other two sides in the traditional pose one took to express adoration to a deity. The far wall of the tomb, at its northern end, features a badly damaged funerary stela, on which Maia can still be seen, in the adoration or worshipping pose in front of the deities. In the western hall of this chamber there is a descending staircase leading to an unfinished burial chamber.

The tomb was reused later, from the Late Period (circa 664-332 BCE) to the Roman Period (circa 30 BCE until 395 CE), when it was used as a burial site of mummified cats. Archaeological studies revealed that a fire broke out in the tomb around this time, which affected the walls and the ceiling. These were subsequently reinforced by means of walls that were built inside the chamber, which were removed during the excavation process and a scaffolding was installed to support the roof.

circa 1300 BCE

Tomb of Ptahmes
The Tomb of Ptahmes is situated inside the smaller necropolis of Bubasteion, within the larger Saqqara necropolis of ancient Egypt. Situated east of the the Pyramid of Userkaf, south of the Pyramid of Teti, and north-west of the modern day Imhotep Museum, this tomb dates back to the thirteenth century BCE, a period corresponding to the Nineteenth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Ptahmes, also spelled as Ptah-mis or Ptah-ms, a prominent official who served both Pharaoh Seti I and his successor Ramesses II, was the owner of this burial site.

In the modern times, the tomb was discovered by treasure hunters and tomb raiders in 1885 CE. Most of the tomb's artifacts ended up in museums in the Netherlands, Italy and the United States. Since the location of the tomb was not recorded, knowledge of its position was lost when it was again covered over time by the desert sands. It was rediscovered in 2010 CE by archaeologists from Cairo University.

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