During excavation and cleaning works in the Mut Temple at Karnak, a mission from the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE) stumbled on a very well preserved statue of the goddess Sekhmet. The statue is 180 cm tall and depicts Sekhmet as a lioness wearing the cobra and the Aten sun disk on her head and holding the ankh sign in her right hand and the lotus flower in her left.
"This is the first time a standing statue of the goddess Sekhmet in her original lioness form was found in the Mut Temple," Mansour Boreik, the supervisor of Luxor antiquities, told Ahram Online. He added that previously discovered statues there depict Sekhmet seated with the facial features of the goddess Mut, the consort of the god Amun Re, not her original lioness figure.
The ARCE mission uncovered this statue within the sands of the Mut Temple's second hall, within the framework of comprehensive restoration work carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA). The project, which began in May 2012, aims at restoring the temple and its surroundings so that it can reopen to the public, as it has been closed since 1976.
The original plan includes the establishment of a visitor centre where a documentary about the goddess Mut and her role in ancient Egypt would be screened alongside photos of the temple before and after restoration.
The Mut Temple is one among several located at Karnak. For many years it stood in ruins beyond the south gate, some 200 meters south of Karnak's 10th pylon. For some time now it has been undergoing restoration. The Napoleonic Expedition recorded one of the earliest plans of the Mut Temple as well as explorers and historians of the 19th century such as Nestor L'Hôte, whose drawings, made in 1839, recorded details of such temple. The Royal Prussian Expedition in 1842, led by Karl Lepsius and the first directors of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt, August Mariette and Gaston Maspero, had their own record of the monument. However, the first excavation and restoration work started in 1895 by two English women, Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay.