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Canopic jar, Egypt, 2000 BCE-100 CE

The jar is carved from limestone. The need to preserve the body after death was central to ancient Egyptian beliefs. Mummification was a complicated preservation technique that lasted up to 70 days. To prevent the body from quickly decaying, many of the internal organs were removed. The lungs, stomach, liver and intestines were each put in a canopic jar, with a different shaped head; each representing the four Egypitan gods. These were known as the Sons of Horus. Each Son looked after a different body part. The falcon-headed Qebhsnuf looked after the intestines; the jackal-headed Duamutef looked after the stomach and the monkey headed looked after the lungs. Human headed lids, such as this one, represent Imsety – who was the guardian of the liver.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: liver

Organ that plays a major role in metabolism, digestion, and elimintation of substances in the body.In the warm-blooded animals the liver is usually of a dark reddish-brown colour. In man it is situated below the diaphragm, and is divided by fissures into five lobes. A human can last only 24 hours without liver function.

Glossary: canopic jar

Stone or ceramic jars in which the ancient Egyptians preserved the internal organs of a deceased person as part of their burial practices.