Ancient Egyptian Sekhmet statue valued at $3m

An ancient Egyptian statue of the warrior goddess Sekhmet could make $2m-3m at Sotheby's.

The lot is from the collection of French surrealist poet Joyce Mansour (1928-1986) and will lead the Ancient Egyptian Sculpture and Works of Art auction on December 15.

Sekhmet is an ancient Egyptian warrior goddess 

It was probably built for the vast temple complex constructed for the goddess Mut at Thebes, which housed around 600 representations of Sekhmet.

Another statue of Sekhmet from the same complex sold for $4.1m at Sotheby's in December last year.

A bronze cat dating to sometime around the 21st-26th dynasty (1075-525 BC) is valued at $300,000-400,000.

The ancient Egyptians famously revered cats as sacred.

When the animals died they would often be mummified and their owners would go into mourning - which included shaving the eyebrows as a mark of respect.

Killing a cat was considered an unforgivable crime and would usually get you the death penalty.

The Greek historian Diodous Siculus, writing in 60 BC, explained: "And whoever intentionally kills one of these animals is put to death, unless it be a cat or an ibis that he kills; but if he kills one of these, whether intentionally or unintentionally, he is certainly put to death, for the common people gather in crowds and deal with the perpetrator most cruelly, sometimes doing this without waiting for a trial."

Siculus goes on relate the story of an unfortunate Roman soldier, who discovered that not even the diplomatic might of Rome and a personal plea for clemency from the Pharaoh could save him from the enraged mob that descended on him after he accidently killed a cat.

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