Ancient Egypt

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Canoptic Jars

The Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, their body needed to be perfectly preserved in order for them to get to the afterlife. The process of preserving a dead body was called Mummification.

During Mummification, the major organs were removed from the dead body and preserved separately. The organs were then placed in special containers called Canopic Jars.

There were 4 Canopic Jars in total and each one would hold a different organ inside it. The lid of each jar showed the head of a different Egyptian god. But these weren't just any Egyptian gods; they were the 4 Sons of Horus and each of them guarded a specific organ. So it was important not to mix them up and pop the organs in the wrong jars!

So what did the 4 Sons of Horus look like and which organ did they each protect in their jar?

  • Imsety (pronounced im-set-ee) had a human head and looked after the liver
  • Qebehsenuef (pronounced kay-beh-sinoo-uf) had a falcon head and looked after the intestines
  • Hapy (pronounced hah-pee) had a baboon head and looked after the lungs
  • Duamatef (pronounced du-am-u-tef) had a jackal head and looked after the stomach

Once the organs were preserved and in the correct jars, they were placed inside the tomb with the Mummified dead body. Occasionally the jars were popped together inside a chest next to the body. Other times they were spaced around the tomb facing North, South, East and West.


Three Canoptic Jars

The God Duamutef with the head of a jackal. Protects the stomach.

The God Hapi with the head of a baboon. Protects the lungs.

The God Qebehsenuef with the head of a falcon. Protects the intestines.

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