could Richard Alpert and the statue be Ra (Rah), Egyptian God of the Sun
Ra was said to take on many forms and be incredibly old as he would age with the sun.
Richard's initials are RA. Coincidence? I think not.
Possible theory though that I'm sure many have come up with.
Two pages back in this thread:
Someone on the IMDb board also pointed out that Richard's initials are "Ra". Wonder if that's just a coincidence or not. Ra was also associated with the ankh.