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What Were the Canopic Jars Used For?


Canopic Jars

Canopic Jars

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Question: What Were the Canopic Jars Used For?
There were four canopic jars found with mummies in ancient Egyptian tombs. What was each canopic jar used for?
Answer: According to an exhibit on Canopic jars at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, there's a Greek legend that Menelaus' helmsman was buried at Canopus in the Nile Delta where he was subsequently worshiped -- as a jar.

In practice, the Canopic jars are Egyptian funerary furniture made of a variety of materials, including alabaster, bronze, wood, and pottery. Each of the 4 Canopic jars in a set is different, containing only the prescribed organ and dedicated to a specific son of Horus:

  1. dedicated to Imset (human) held the stomach and intestines
  2. dedicated to Hapy (baboon-head) held the small intestines
  3. dedicated to Kebehsenut (jackal-head) held the liver and gall bladder
  4. dedicated to Duamutef (falcon-head) held the lungs and heart.
The god could be represented on the jar or the god's head could form the jar's lid.

The heart was kept within the body and the brain wasn't considered important enough to be preserved, so there were no canopic jars for these two organs.

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