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Egypt archaeologists unearth ancient temple, cat statues
Published in Bikya Masr on 20 - 01 - 2010

CAIRO: Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the temple of Queen Berenike and some 600 Ptolemaic statues in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, in what experts are saying may be the first traces of the ancient city’s royal quarters, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Tuesday. The discovery gives renewed hope that details of ancient Alexandria may soon come to light.
The remains of the temple, 60 meters in height and 15 meters in width, were uncovered during routine excavations in the Kom el-Dikka area of Alexandria by an archaeological mission led by Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, head of antiquities of lower Egypt (Northern Egypt), the council said.
“We hope that this will lead to more discoveries of what ancient life was like in Alexandria,” said a council official. “If we can get to the royals then it might be easier to map out how the city was thousands of years ago.”
Queen Berenike, who ruled in the third century BC, was the wife of Ptolemy III.
The team found a large collection of statues depicting the cat goddess Bastet, indicating that the temple was dedicated to the deity. Clay pots and bronze statues of other Egyptian gods including Harpocrates and Ptah were also discovered, the Supreme Council said. The find could mean that the worship of Bastet continued even after the decline of the Pharaohs, it said.
The base of a granite statue of a top official during the reign of Ptolemy IV was also unearthed and is believed to celebrate Egypt’s victory over the Greeks during the Battle of Raphia in 217 B.C., the statement from Egypt’s archaeological authority said. A large number of clay pots dating back to the fourth century BC as well as a Roman water cistern were also discovered, it said.

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