تل بسطة
View of Bubastis
Bubastis is located in Egypt
Shown within Egypt
Alternative name
  • Bubastis
  • Per-Bast
LocationTell-Basta, Sharqia Governorate, Egypt
RegionLower Egypt
Coordinates30°34′22″N 31°30′36″E / 30.57278°N 31.51000°E / 30.57278; 31.51000
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins
Map of ancient Lower Egypt showing Bubastis
in hieroglyphs

Bubastis (Bohairic Coptic: Ⲡⲟⲩⲃⲁⲥϯ Poubasti; Greek: Βούβαστις Boubastis[1] or Βούβαστος Boubastos[2]), also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or in Egyptian as Per-Bast, was an ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis is often identified with the biblical Pi-Beseth (Hebrew: פי-בסת py-bst, Ezekiel 30:17).[3] It was the capital of its own nome, located along the River Nile in the Delta region of Lower Egypt, and notable as a center of worship for the feline goddess Bastet, and therefore the principal depository in Egypt of mummies of cats.

Its ruins are located in the suburbs of the modern city of Zagazig.


The name of Bubastis in Egyptian is Pr-Bȝst.t, conventionally pronounced Per-Bast but its Earlier Egyptian pronunciation can be reconstructed as /ˈpaɾu-buˈʀistit/. It is a compound of Egyptian pr (“house") and the name of the goddess Bastet; thus the phrase means "House of Bast".[4] In later forms of Egyptian, sound shifts had altered the pronunciation. In Bohairic Coptic, the name is rendered Ⲡⲟⲩⲃⲁⲥϯ, Ⲡⲟⲩⲁⲥϯ or Ⲃⲟⲩⲁⲥϯ.


Hathor capital from the Temple of Bubastis in the collection of the British Museum[5]

Bubastis served as the capital of the nome of Am-Khent, the 18th nome of Lower Egypt. Bubastis was situated southwest of Tanis, upon the eastern side of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. The nome and city of Bubastis were allotted to the Calasirian division of the Egyptian war-caste.

Second Dynasty

In a later account by the Greek historian Manetho, it's stated that a "chasm opened near Bubastis and many perished" during the reign of Hotepsekhemwy in the Second Dynasty.[6]

Twelfth Dynasty

In the Middle Kingdom, Tell Basta was the site of a large mudbrick palace (16,000 sqm) dated to the Twelfth Dynasty.[7] It has been thought to be a residence of Amenemhat III. A limestone lintel shows the king during his Heb Sed Festival.

Second Intermediate Period

Following the Twelfth Dynasty, the Middle Kingdom faded out. At Bubastis, a red granite architrave belonged to Sekhemre Khutawy Khabaw.[8] In another monument found at Tanis, he is mentioned along with Hor.

Twenty-Second Dynasty

It became a royal residence after Shoshenq I, the first ruler and founder of the 22nd Dynasty, became pharaoh in 943 BC. Bubastis was its height during this dynasty and the 23rd. It declined after the conquest by Cambyses II in 525 BC, which heralded the end of the Saite 26th Dynasty and the start of the Achaemenid Empire.

The Twenty Second Dynasty of Egyptian monarchs consisted of nine, or, according to Eusebius[9] of three Bubastite kings, and during their reigns the city was one of the most considerable places in the Delta. Immediately to the south of Bubastis were the allotments of land with which Psamtik I rewarded the services of his Ionian and Carian mercenaries;[10] and on the northern side of the city commenced the Canal of the Pharaohs, which Pharaoh Necho II began (but never finished) to go between the Nile and the Red Sea.[11]

Persian rule and decline

After Bubastis was taken by the Persians, its walls were dismantled.[12] From this period it gradually declined, although it appears in ecclesiastical annals among the episcopal sees of the province Augustamnica Secunda. Bubastite coins of the age of Hadrian exist. The following is the description which Herodotus gives of Bubastis, as it appeared shortly after the period of the Persian invasion, 525 BC, and Hamilton remarks that the plan of the ruins remarkably warrants the accuracy of this historical eye-witness:

Temples there are more spacious and costlier than that of Bubastis, but none so pleasant to behold. It is after the following fashion. Except at the entrance, it is surrounded by water: for two canals branch off from the river, and run as far as the entrance to the temple: yet neither canal mingles with the other, but one runs on this side, and the other on that. Each canal is a hundred feet wide, and its banks are lined with trees. The propylaea are sixty feet in height, and are adorned with sculptures (probably intaglios in relief) nine feet high, and of excellent workmanship. The Temple being in the middle of the city is looked down upon from all sides as you walk around; and this comes from the city having been raised, whereas the temple itself has not been moved, but remains in its original place. Quite round the temple there goes a wall, adorned with sculptures. Within the inclosure is a grove of fair tall trees, planted around a large building in which is the effigy (of Bast). The form of that temple is square, each side being a stadium in length. In a line with the entrance is a road built of stone about three stadia long, leading eastwards through the public market. The road is about 400 feet (120 m) broad, and is flanked by exceeding tall trees. It leads to the temple of Hermes.[13]


Relief of the pharaoh Amenhotep II, made of red granite. It depicts the pharaoh worshiping the god Amun. From the 18th Dynasty, circa 1430 BC, with an additional inscription by Seti I (circa 1290 BC). Originally from Bubastis, British Museum.[14]

Bubastis was a center of worship for the feline goddess Bastet, sometimes called Bubastis after the city, who the Greeks identified with Artemis. The cat was the sacred and peculiar animal of Bast, who is represented with the head of a cat or a lioness and frequently accompanies the deity Ptah in monumental inscriptions. The tombs at Bubastis were accordingly the principal depository in Egypt of the mummies of the cat.[15][16]

The most distinguished features of the city and nome of Bubastis were its oracle of Bast, the splendid temple of that goddess and the annual procession in honor of her. The oracle gained in popularity and importance after the influx of Greek settlers into the Delta, since the identification of Bast with Artemis attracted to her shrine both native Egyptians and foreigners.

The festival of Bubastis was considered the most joyous and gorgeous of all in the Egyptian calendar as described by Herodotus:

Barges and river craft of every description, filled with men and women, floated leisurely down the Nile. The men played on pipes of lotus. the women on cymbals and tambourines, and such as had no instruments accompanied the music with clapping of hands and dances, and other joyous gestures. Thus did they while on the river: but when they came to a town on its banks, the barges were made fast, and the pilgrims disembarked, and the women sang, playfully mocked the women of that town and threw their clothes over their head. When they reached Bubastis, then held they a wondrously solemn feast: and more wine of the grape was drank in those days than in all the rest of the year. Such was the manner of this festival: and, it is said, that as many as seven hundred thousand pilgrims have been known to celebrate the Feast of Bast at the same time.[17]

Christian bishopric

Extant documents mention the names of three Christian bishops of Bubastis of the 4th and 5th centuries:


The tomb of the late New Kingdom vizier Iuty was discovered in December 1964 in the "Cemetery of the Nobles" of Bubastis by the Egyptian archaeologist Shafik Farid.

Upper part, figure of an official of Amenhotep III, from a double statue. From Bubastis (Tell-Basta), Egypt. From the Amelia Edwards Collection. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Since 2008, the German-Egyptian "Tell Basta Project" has been conducting excavations at Bubastis. Previously, in March 2004, a well preserved copy of the Decree of Canopus was discovered in the city.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Herodotus ii. 59, 137
  2. ^ Strabo xvii. p. 805, Diodorus xvi. 51, Plin. v. 9. s. 9, Ptol. iv. 5. § 52.
  3. ^ Ezek. 30:17. בחורי און ופי-בסת, בחרב יפלו; והןה, בשבי תלכןה.‎ "Youths of Awen and Pi-Beset will fall by the sword; and they (fem) will go into captivity." הןה‎ "they (feminine)" cannot refer to the youths, and so must refer to the cities. Hebrew words meaning "city" are generally feminine (עיר, קריה‎).
  4. ^ Mohamed I. Bakr, Helmut Brandl, "Bubastis and the Temple of Bastet", in: M.I. Bakr, H. Brandl, F. Kalloniatis (eds.), Egyptian Antiquities from Kufur Nigm and Bubastis. Museums in the Nile Delta Archived January 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine (M.i.N.) vol. 1, Cairo/ Berlin 2010, pp. 27-36, ISBN 978-3-00-033509-9.
  5. ^ British Museum Collection
  6. ^ William Gillian Waddell: Manetho (The Loeb Classical Library, Volume 350). Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2004 (Reprint), ISBN 0-674-99385-3, page 37–41.
  7. ^ "Palace of King Amenemhat III".
  8. ^ Britisn Museum EA 1100
  9. ^ Chronicon
  10. ^ Herodotus ii. 154
  11. ^ Herodotus ii. 158
  12. ^ Diod. xvi. 51.
  13. ^ Herodotus ii. 138.
  14. ^ British Museum Collection
  15. ^ Evans, Elaine A. (May 2001). "Cat Mummies". McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  16. ^ Scott, Nora E. "The Cat of Bastet" (PDF). Metropolitan Museum of Art. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  17. ^ Public Domain Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Bubastis". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  18. ^ Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 461
  19. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 559-562
  20. ^ Klaas A. Worp, A Checklist of Bishops in Byzantine Egypt (A.D. 325 - c. 750), in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 100 (1994) 283-318
  21. ^ Tell Basta Project (EES/ University of Göttingen/ SCA) Archived 2013-10-30 at the Wayback Machine Egypt Exploration Society
Preceded byTanis Capital of Egypt 945 - 715 BC Succeeded byLeontopolis