Height: 36.500 cm
Height: 36.500 cm (min.)
Canopic jars of Neskhons
From Deir el-Bahari, Upper
21st Dynasty, 1069-945 BC
Stone jars made to store the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines of a mummified body
When a body was preserved as a mummy, the internal organs were taken out quickly after death, as they would rot. All the same, the ancient Egyptians believed that it was important to preserve them alongside the mummified body. The heart, the 'seat of understanding', was left in place. The liver, lungs, stomach and intestines were placed in four different containers.
The wooden lids of these jars represent the Sons of Horus, four minor gods who protected the organs that they contained. They are: the falcon-headed Qebhsenuef (intestines); the jackal-headed Duamutef (the stomach); the baboon-headed Hapy (the lungs), and the human-headed Imsety (the liver). These were named 'canopic' jars by modern Egyptologists. This mistakenly linked them to Canopus, the captain of the fleet of ships of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Canopus was buried in Egypt after the fall of Troy, and was worshipped locally in the form of a human-headed jar.
of jars belonged to Neskhons, wife of Pinedjem II, the High Priest
T. Richard Blurton (ed.), The enduring image: treasures, exh. cat (British Council, 1997)