Recent excavations at Luxor’s west bank in Egypt have uncovered a previously undiscovered collection of black granite statues that depict the ancient Egyptian goddess Sekhmet in her lioness form. The excavation is part of an ongoing project at King Amenhotep III’s funerary temple at Kom Al-Hittan.
These aren’t the first statues from the funerary temple, either—the Egyptian-European project (led by German Egyptologist Horig Sourouzian) has uncovered 64 other statues of Sekhmet in a variety of shapes and sizes.
And typical to depictions of Sekhmet, the goddess is depicted in the new collection of statues with a human body and the head of a lioness, and sitting on a throne.
Finding so many statues of Sekhmet at this one location says a lot about the temple and the time period. The goddess played an important role during the 18th Dynasty, particularly during the reign of Tutankhamun’s grandfather, King Amenhotep III.
According to Egypt’s minister of state for antiquities, “some Egyptologists believe that King Amenhotep constructed a large number of goddess Sekhmets in an attempt to cure him of a specific disease that he suffered during his reign.” Although the goddess is best known for her aspect as goddess of war and destruction, she was also considered to have the ability to cure serious diseases.
Of the new statues found, they’re considered “very well preserved”, and one of the figure is over two meters tall!
And apparently this wasn’t the only place the lioness goddess held sway—on Luxor’s east bank, the temple of the goddess Mut also held numerous Sekhmet statues. The west bank temple, according to Luxor’s supervisor of antiquities, was a “symbol of stability and prosperity” during King Amenhotep III’s reign.
…or maybe he just really liked lions.