Description From the third millennium BC, Bastet begins to appear as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lion. Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh. Her role in the pantheon became diminished as Sekhmet, a similar lioness war deity, became more dominant in the unified culture of Lower and Upper Egypt. In the first millennium BC, when domesticated cats were popularly kept as pets, Bastet began to be represented as a woman with the head of a cat and ultimately emerged as the Egyptian cat-goddess. In the Middle Kingdom, the domestic cat appeared as Bastets sacred animal and after the New Kingdom she was depicted as a woman with the head of a cat, carrying a sacred rattle.