When it comes to the grandeur of Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet the Goddess is awe-inspiring with her lioness visage and blood-red clothing. In fact, she was presented with the epithet of ‘Sekhmet the Powerful’, and often depicted as the fiercest hunter in all of Egypt whose very breath formed the desert (while her pedigree was also associated with the Solar deity). Given such regal characteristics, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that many Pharaohs regarded her as their protector in battles. Now beyond fables and symbolism, there is always the tangible connection of sculptural artifacts that connect past mythologies to the human scale. To that end, archaeologists from the ‘The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project’ have discovered eight imposing statues of Sekhmet all crafted in black-granite.
The largest of these statues is around a substantial 1.9 m (6.2 ft) in height, while having the width of 0.51 m (1.67 ft) and the depth of 1 m (3.28 ft). Interestingly, six of the eight specimens depict the goddess seated on her throne while holding a symbol of life on her right hand. Unfortunately, only three of them have their intact forms, while the other two have their lower parts available, and the last one only has its upper part complete. As for the two other stone-carved figures, they maintain a standing posture – though their heads and lower halves are still missing.
Interestingly enough, these are not the only Sekhmet statue specimens that have been discovered from the Temple of Amenhotep III, with previous finds showcasing the similar style and effect of craftsmanship from the famed Egyptian sculptors. In that regard, almost of the statues (located around the large peristyle court) portray quite exquisitely the head of a lion with the body of a woman – who is dressed royally in a tight-fitting long dress and wearing a tripartite wig.
As for the grand Temple of Amenhotep III itself, this superlative architectural feat (located in the Theban necropolis, opposite Luxor) originally had an expansive complex that covered an area of more than 350,000 sq m (or 3.8 million sq ft), thus equating to over 65 American football fields! Two imposing statues of Amenhotep (around 60 ft high), collectively known as the Colossi of Memnon (see below), still give us an idea of the sheer scale of this temple complex that has now unfortunately fallen into ruin. But the good news is – conservationists are still looking forth to refurbish what’s left of this monumental site. To that end, these Sekhmet statue specimens would come in handy in drawing visitors to this ancient structure after the temple ruins are properly secured and opened to the public. This is what Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Mamdouh El Damaty, had to say –
The statues will be in display at the site of the temple after completing the cleaning, restoration and documentation of the statues. After finishing building the fence around the site of Amenhotep III to protect it. The temple will be open for public.