Thursday at the Museums on 4 May is dedicated to the presentation of the “Progetto Sekhmet” (Sekhmet Project), an international and multidisciplinary research project directed by Alessia Amenta, Curator of the Vatican Museums Department of Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities, in collaboration with Mario Cappozzo, Assistant, and focused on the study of hundreds of granodiorite statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet “the Mighty”: the terrestrial materialization of the fearsome Egyptian divinity with the head of a lioness and the body of a woman.
The project was initiated in 2017 following the restoration of eleven statues of this type preserved in the Gregorian Egyptian Museum. The conservation work - carried out under the supervision of the Vatican Museums Stone Materials Restoration Laboratory and with the support of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums (Canada Chapter) - made it possible to obtain important scientific results that were later developed jointly with the Museo Egizio of Turin, which in turn holds twenty-three examples of Sekhmet statues.
These sculptures, a few hundred in number and now dispersed in numerous museums around the world and still in some sites in Egypt, were originally probably all located in the funerary temple of Amenhotep III in West Thebes at Kom e-Hettan (built between 1390 and 1353 B.C. and later destroyed by a terrible earthquake) and represent, in the history of mankind, the largest serial sculptural production of a single subject.
Various professionals and institutions are collaborating on the “Progetto Sekhmet”: The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project directed by Hourig Sourouzian, the Museo Egizio of Turin, the Department of Earth and Sea Sciences of the University of Palermo, the Ditta Azimut LP, Emiliano Ricchi, Stefano Mastrostefano (University of Molise), Luigi Mastrostefano (MIUR) and the Cabinet of Scientific Research Applied to Cultural Heritage of the Vatican Museums.
The conference on 4 May will be a valuable opportunity to introduce the non-specialist public to the complexity, peculiarity and results of the research and study work so far.
The institutional greetings of the Director of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, will be followed by an intervention by the project manager Alessia Amenta, who will then give the floor to the restorer Emiliano Ricchi for the technical aspects connected with the creation of this impressive sculptural group, while the engineer Stefano Mastrostefano will speak on the use of Artificial Intelligence in processing the large volume of data collected for each individual statue. During the meeting, space will also be given to the Istituto Europeo di Design, which has collaborated on the “Progetto Sekhmet” through the elaboration of some interesting degree theses for the academic year 2021-2022.