Statues of Amun and Mut
These statues of Amun and Mut have undergone extensive restoration work composed of 79 pieces; the head of the goddess was originally excavated by Auguste Mariette at Karnak in 1873, with further parts being found over the course of many years in subsequent excavations in the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak and sent to the Egyptian Museum, where they were reassembled.
They present the gods Amun and Mut the features of a late 18th Dynasty royal couple and seated on large thrones. Mut places her right hand on her knee, and the other on her husband. She wears a tight dress, beautifully decorated with two straps over her shoulders.
The god Amun can be seen with his right hand on his knee, and his left hand holding the Ankh key, symbol of life. His throne is decorated on both sides with the symbols of the unification of the Two Lands, the sema-tawy.
The throne is inscribed with the names of the gods, and, beside Amun, we can see his name and title: Amun-Re, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, who lives in Karnak.
Beside Mut, we can see the title Lady of Isheru, which is a site in Karnak. The base of the statue is inscribed for King Horemheb, who is described as beloved of Mut and Amun.
The sculpture was destroyed in the Middle Ages by stone robbers, who have quarried away blocks from the statue’s back slab and base, and hollowed a basin in the back of the throne.
Mut, the Mother Goddess
Mut was the great mother and queen of the gods who ruled Thebes. Her origins are somewhat uncertain but her popularity grew over time with her cult spreading throughout Egypt. She acquired a fundamental role especially in the Theban area where she took the place of Amun’s original consort, becoming the main wife of the god and the mother of Khonsu in the great Theban triad.
Contrary to the modern imaginary where the vulture doesn’t have very positive reputation, this predatory bird was highly appreciated in Egyptian culture and was considered the embodiment of the goddesses Mut and Nekhbet: the bird unfolds its wings to protect its little ones. The hieroglyph of the vulture was used to represent the word “mother” (“mut”).
The name of the goddess, which was written with the hieroglyphic representation of the vulture, may represent her earliest form, since the word Mut and the vulture used to write it means mother and this deity was considered both as a mother goddess and as the mother of the king.
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1550-1292 BC. Limestone. From Karnak. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 99064