Granodiorite Statue of the goddess Sekhmet
Granodiorite statue of the goddess sekhmet, the avenging lion-headed goddess. Like the combative fire spitting goddess the king vanquished Egypt’s enemies.
Through her fire Sekhmet was associated with the royal uraeus cobra and the eye of the sun god Re. As the city of Thebes gained power, the priests gave Mut, consort of the God Amun, greater prominence so she was merged with Sekhmet.
The two columns of hieroglyphs on either side of the legs of the goddess indicate that the statue was reused during the reign of king Shoshenq I (943-923 BC) of the 22nd Dynasty. It seems to have been uninscribed until then, as the surface does not show any trace of recarving.
The lioness goddess Sekhmet is well known for her ferocity and danger. The goddess also had a good side. She had the power to ward off plagues and could even intercede as a healing goddess, even being called “Sekhmet, the lady of life”. Her priests seemed to have played an important role in the magical aspect of medicine, reciting prayers and spells for the sick along with the physical cure given by doctors.
The lioness goddess Sekhmet was the protagonist of one of the bloodiest myths of ancient Egypt, that of the destruction of mankind – the myth of the celestial cow – where the goddess, sent to earth to destroy mankind, intoxicated by the blood of men, escapes the control of the gods. Associated with this fierce side is an opposite but equally relevant one, that of a healing deity: in fact, besides being able to send plagues and diseases to earth, Sekhmet was also able to heal them.
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1390-1353 BC. From temple of Amenhotep III (reused in the temple of Mut) at Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 252