Bubastis [key], ancient city, NE Egypt, in the Nile delta, near the modern Zagazig. Capital of Egypt in the XXII and XXIII dynasties, it began to decline after the second Persian conquest (343 b.c.). Bubastis was the center of the worship of the lion-headed (or cat-headed) goddess Bast. In the time of Herodotus it had an annual Saturnalia, an orgiastic festival honoring the god Saturn. As Pi-beseth, Bubastis is mentioned in Ezek. 30.17. Excavations were made in 1886, 1887, and 1906. Among the finds were a chapel of the VI dynasty (proving that the site dates back to the Old Kingdom) and a great temple built in the 8th cent. b.c.
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