Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

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The Egyptian feline deities Sekhmet and Bastet entered the pantheon simultaneously as major asteroid hits.

The Enigma Of Egyptian Sekhmet And Leonine Deities

Typical of cats, the leonine goddesses of ancient Egypt, including Sekhmet are very elusive, despite countless research papers. A review of the attestations of the cult of feline deities in Egypt reveals their wide geographical extent. They were not localised. Indeed there was seemingly a whole pride of feline deities inhabiting the ancient Egyptian pantheon ranging from fearsome lions to cute pussy cats.

Bastet statuette holding a sistrum and a basket. Late Period–Ptolemaic Period (664–30 BC) Metropolitan Museum of Art (Public Domain)

Old Kingdom Leonine Deities

The earliest named lion deity was the goddess Bastet who is recorded in the Second Dynasty (c2890– c2686 BC). During the Fourth Dynasty (c2613- c2494 BC) the goddess Sheshmet is named. In the next dynasty which lasted approximately 150 years, from the early 25th century BC until the mid-24th century BC, the goddess Sekhmet tentatively appears almost always in syncretistic connection with the two earlier goddesses. Collectively these Dynasties are referred to as the Old Kingdom. Whilst these deities may at first sight appear as separate entities, they may in fact have originated from a common source.


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