Thursday, May 17, 2018

B is for Bastet (Blogging through the Alphabet)

Statue of Bastet

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For the new "Blogging through the Alphabet" series, I thought I would focus upon a subject that I really love: History! In this post, I will share information and facts about Bastet. I will explore a different place, person, or historical event in history each week. I hope you will join me on the journey!

One of my greatest interests in history is Ancient Egypt. My love of Egyptology started with my Grandpop and Mom sharing their own love of it with me when I was young. My Grandpop would sit for hours in the dining room pouring over history books which included a collection of World War II and Egyptology books. Though Grandpop is now gone, I am happy to say that – between my own bookshelves and my mom's – we have kept all of his Egyptian History books.

Egyptian History Books

Besides the pyramids, one of the things most people remember about Egypt is their worship of many different gods and goddesses. They had gods for almost every aspect of life – sky, childbirth, war, afterlife, judgement, and storms. Many of the these gods were represented as both a human and animal (or animal-headed human).

One of my favorite Egyptian goddesses to read about is Bastet. This is probably due to the fact that she is often represented as a cat. Her statues are often sleek cats made of bronze adorned with jewelry.

We can learn more about the temple, cult, and festival associated with Bastet by studying the town of Bubastis, which housed the Temple of Bastet, anf by reading the account of Herodotus, a Greek historian. He visited Bubastis in the 5th century BC and wrote of the town and the festival in which boats of men and women celebrated with castanets and flutes.

Image from Dreamstime Stock Photos of Bastet
Bastet may have been a local god but she was still important as she was regarded as a daughter of the sun-god. She went through many different incarnations from being shown with the head of a lion to finally being depicted as a domesticated cat. She was also honored as the mother of kings and was even listed in one of the spells in the Pyramid Texts: "My mother Bastet has nursed me."

There were also a number of cat cemeteries associated with Bastet. Mummified cats and bronze statues of Bastet could be found in the underground cemeteries as well as many fake mummified cats that have made their way to museums and private collections.

One of the activities I did when teaching about Ancient Egypt in a World History High School class was having my students create their own Egyptian gods or goddesses. I presented them with a selection of toy animals and a worksheet with questions that would guide them to thinking about what aspect of life their new Egyptian god would aid or control. They loved the creativity this allowed them. (Here is a link to a modified version of the worksheet my students used: Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.)

There are so many wonderful places, times, people, and events in history. I look forward to sharing more with you each week.


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11 comments:

  1. Looking forward to your entries.

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  2. Ancient Egypt is fascinating! One of our favorite books to read together has been The Cat of Bubastis. Thank you for sharing even more with us. It will be fun to follow along through history with you in this series :)

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    1. I admit I have the book (as seen in my photo) but haven't read it yet. I hope to fix that soon.

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  3. One of my earliest memories of liking history was learning about ancient Egypt. It has always fascinated me too.

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  4. We just finished our Ancient Egypt unit and it was so enjoyable. It was so interesting to learn about their beliefs. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Lots to learn in your post. I am looking forward to reading more of your series.

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  6. Thank you for this post. I was searching for more information on Bastet and you helped.

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