Sekhmet - Kom Ombo, Egypt

More Statues of Lioness Goddess Sekhmet Unearthed in Luxor, Egypt

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An assemblage of twenty-seven statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet has been unearthed during excavation works at King Amenhotep III’s funerary temple at the Kom El-Hettan area on Luxor’s west bank.

Statues Dedicated to Lioness Goddess Sekhmet

The discovery of the collection was made by an Egyptian-European archaeological team led by archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian as part of the King Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stated that the black-granite statues have an estimated height of about two meters as the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reports. Some of the statues portray Sekhmet sitting on a throne while holding the symbol of life in her left hand.  Other depict her standing and holding a papyrus sceptre on the height of her chest. Her head is crowned with a sun-disk, while a uraeus decorates her forehead.

Recently-discovered statue of Sekhmet. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

Sculptures are of High Artistic Quality and Great Archaeological Value

According to Sourouzian, his team found many almost complete statues with only the feet and base missing. The statues that were not buried too deep in the ground were found to be in good condition, while those that were unearthed from deeper levels of the ground are in a bad condition due to subterranean water and salt, which harmed the surface. “The sculptures are of a high artistic quality and of the greatest archaeological interest,” Sourouzian told Ahram Online , who noted that the significance and quality of the statues explains why they survived a period of intense quarrying of the temple remains in the Ramesside Period, after a catastrophic earthquake destroyed the walls and the columns of the temple in 1200 BC.

Recently-discovered statue of Sekhmet. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

Recently-discovered statue of Sekhmet. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

Sourouzian also added that the statues are currently in restoration, where his team will clean and desalinate them, as they were “sitting” under a thick layer of mud and crushed sandstone. All statues of the goddess will be positioned back in their original setting when the site protection project is completed.

The Importance of the Goddess Sekhmet in Ancient Egyptian Religion

This is not the first time archaeologists have unearthed a significant cache of statues of Goddess Sekhmet in the area. As previously reported in another Ancient Origins article , almost a year ago the mission brought to the surface an impressive number of statues of the goddes, daughter of the ancient Egyptian sun god Re. The number of statues that have been unearthed can be attributed to her immense importance in the ancient Egyptian religion. 

The lion-headed goddess Sekhmet was a member of the Memphite Triad, thought to be the wife of Ptah and mother of Nefertem. Linked with war and retribution, she was believed to use arrows to kill her enemies with fire, her breath being the hot desert wind as her body took on the glare of the midday sun. She often represented the destructive force of the sun as well. According to the Egyptian legends, she came into being when Hathor was sent to earth by Ra to take vengeance on man. She was the one who slaughtered mankind and drank their blood, only being stopped by trickery.  

Wall relief of Sekhmet, Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt

Wall relief of Sekhmet, Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt ( CC by SA 3.0 )

However, being mother of Nefertem, who himself was a healing god, gave her a more protective side that manifested itself in her aspect of goddess of healing and surgery. The priests of Sekhmet were specialists in the field of medicine, and arts linked to ritual and magic. They were also trained surgeons of remarkable caliber. According to many historians, this is the main reason King Amenhotep III had so many statues of Sekhmet surrounding him, as he was suffering from many health problems and he hoped the goddess would cure him; a theory that is verified by Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, who claimed that the many discovered statues of the goddess in the temple of Amenhotep III were possibly intended to protect the ruler from evil and disease.

287 Statues of Sekhmet Have been Unearthed Since 1998

Almost a year after the massive discovery of statues of the Goddess, Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, saw even more statues being uncovered by the Egyptian-European archaeological team working for the King Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project. The mission launched its excavation back in 1998, and nearly 20 years later, more than 287 statues of Sekhmet have been unearthed. According to Ahram Online , the King Amenhotep III temple is the largest of its kind and during antiquity it was a marvelous construction including thousands of royal and divine statues, with hundreds of them depicting Sekhmet.

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