The ancient site of Bubastis, known locally as Tell Basta is situated on the southern edge of the modern city of Zagazig in the north east of Egypt’s Delta region. Like most ancient sites in the more fertile north the ancient ruins are far less well preserved and resemble an enormous jigsaw puzzle with the majority of the pieces missing.
Nevertheless much of interest survives at the site, with fragments of sculpture and architectural pieces scattered over a large area which can be explored on foot with each fragment giving a sense of discovery. It is quite unlike any other site we visited in Egypt given its rambling, ruinous nature and the fact we were entirely left alone to investigate it was an added bonus.
The city was an important cult centre of the cat goddess Bastet in ancient times and the modern Arabic name Tell Basta references this. Little remains of her once great temple beyond scattered remnants but images of the feline goddess can still be found on fragments throughout the ruined site.
Many of the more recognisble sculpted fragments have been mounted in an open air display area before a modern building that is intended to open as a museum in the not too distant future. Other more imposing pieces from the site can be found in major museums throughout the world.
Tell Basta / Bubastis does not receive many western visitors being poorly preserved (by Egyptian standards) and fairly remote from the tourist trail. We hired a taxi from Cairo and were clearly the only two western visitors who had been seen here for some time (which at least pleased the local students on a school trip who posed for photos with us!). We were also delayed a while before leaving Tell Basta for our next destination whilst security made arrangements to escort us there.
Tagged: , Bubastis , Tell Basta , archaeological , site , Egypt , ancient , Egyptian , ruins