Eight More Statues of the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet Found in Luxor
Eight statues of the goddess Sekhmet have been discovered in the temple of Amenhotep III at Kôm El-Hettan on the west bank of the Nile. The black granite statues were found during excavations which are a part of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project led by Armenian Egyptologist Hourig Sourouzian.
According to Ahram Online, the statues show Sekhmet with a with a tripartite wig and a long, tight-fitting dress. The tallest of the newly-discovered statues is 1.9 meters (6.2 ft.) tall. They are 0.5 meters (1.6 ft.) wide and about 1 meter (3.3 ft.) deep.
A statue of Sekhmet in situ. (Egypt Antiquities Ministry)
Egypt's Antiquities Ministry says that the statues are grouped in two main categories. The first group contains six statues which show the lion-headed goddess seated on a throne and holding a symbol of life in her right hand. Three of them are almost complete, one is just the upper part, and two others are lower parts.
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The second group contains two middle parts of statues which present the goddess standing – these are headless and without the lower parts. Nonetheless, it is still possible to recognize that the goddess is depicted holding a papyrus scepter in her left hand and a life symbol in her right.
A head and torso of one of the statues. (Egypt Antiquities Ministry)
Near the statues of Sekhmet, the team discovered the middle part of a statue of Amenhotep III wearing a jubilee cloak. It was carved of the same black granite.
The discovered statues are not that unique. During the previous seasons of works by the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project and other groups, many similar statues were discovered. Due to the orders by Amenhotep III, seven hundred statues of Sekhmet were placed on the west bank of the Nile.
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All the statues were surrounding the large peristyle court and the hypostyle hall of the vast temple, and each statue is a typical example of art from the times of the New Kingdom Period. The ones discovered recently will be cleaned, desalinated and documented, then put on display in the temple.
The Temple on Luxor’s west bank was the largest of the mortuary temples in the Theban area at the time of its construction. It covered the area of around 350,000 square meters (376,7369 sq. ft.) and could be the most expensive palace in the history of Egypt.
Amenhotep III is known as sort of the Louis XIV of Ancient Egypt. He was an important builder and founder of many impressive palaces and temples. He ruled in the 13th century BC and was one of the most important kings of the 18th dynasty. He was also the father of Akhenaten and grandfather of Tutankhamun. His reign was a time of prosperity for all the Kingdom.
Colossal granite head of Amenhotep III at the British Museum. (Public Domain)
The German-Armenian team led by Hourig Sourouzian made several important discoveries during the last few excavation seasons. In 2014, archaeologists unearthed two colossal statues of Amenhotep III - another two examples of the so-called Colossi of Memnon. The statues are similar to two other 3,400-year-old colossi twin statues of Amenhotep III, both of which present the pharaoh seated.
“The world until now knew two Memnon colossi, but from today it will know four colossi of Amenhotep III,” Hourig Sourouzian commented on her success to AFP.
Pharaoh Amenhotep III's Sitting Colossi of Memnon statues at Luxor, Egypt. (Than217/ CC BY 3.0)
The restored statues are 11.5 meters tall (37.7 ft.), 3.6 meters (11.8 ft.) wide, and weigh 250 tons. The archeologists told AFP that the original statues would have reached a height of 13.5 meters (44.3 ft.), but they are missing a double crown, which would have decorated the top of the pharaoh’s head in the past. The statues depict Amenhotep III wearing a royal pleated kilt that is held at the waist by a large belt.
Excavations in the Temple will continue.
Featured Image: Two of the statues of the goddess Sekhmet. Source: Egypt Antiquities Ministry