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The book’s introduction sets the scene by briefly describing the find, with a chronological sketch of the archaeological landscape of Saqqara the subject of the first chapter. The caching phenomenon – the deliberate gathering and deposition of ritual objects – is attested from sacred sites throughout the Pharaonic period. In Chapter 2, comparisons are drawn between the Bubasteion find and depositions of statuary and coffins at Luxor, including the famous ‘Karnak Cachette’, to give a broader context. Mention in passing is made of the nearby EES excavations in the 1960s and ’70s, which provide instructive parallels.
A separate chapter deals with the mummified remains of felines; being situated directly next to the enclosure sacred to the goddess Bastet, the votive deposit contained many of these. X-rays showed that these offerings were unusual in mainly containing complete animals (unlike the broader range of examples studied by a University of Manchester project) and included a previously unattested example of what appears to be a lion cub.
The rest of the volume is devoted to a catalogue-style presentation of key finds contained within the deposit. As is made clear, this must date to the Late or Ptolemaic Periods, based on the types of material attested. As one would expect from comparable contexts, the cache predominantly comprised images of deities. Chief among these are images of felines, representing the goddess Bastet, but also a range of other animals – bearing in mind the importance of the Sacred Animal Necropolis at Saqqara, this is hardly surprising. As is typical of the Late Period, Osiris is well-represented too. Items of particular note include coffins for mummified scarabs, amulets of the goddess Taweret made from coloured and cut-out papyrus, and a striking wooden statue of the goddess Neith, found within a wooden box/coffin/shrine.
Although it would have been of added value to see more photographs of the contextual placement of objects on first discovery, the book does a very good job of appealing visually to the non-specialist with fine, detailed object photography. This is perhaps a result of the work being published by both the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Houston Museum of Natural Science, which has on display a considerable range of Pharaonic material. Each object entry carries very useful scholarly references, and a comprehensive bibliography appears at the end.
Vestiges of Ancient Egypt: The Bubasteion Votive Cachette at Saqqara
by Mostafa Waziry
Supreme Council of Antiquities and Houston Museum of Natural science, 2023