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Canopic Jar with Lid in the Form of a Human Head

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Canopic Jars

The practice of mummifying human remains led to the development of a new kind of jar.

During the mummification process, the liver, stomach, intestines, and lungs had to be removed to allow the corpse’s interior to dry. In the Fourth Dynasty, the Egyptians began storing these vital organs in four separate vessels, called canopic jars, and burying them with the mummy. Eighteenth Dynasty craftsmen started making canopic jar lids representing the four “Sons of Horus”—deities specifically charged with defending the organs. The human-headed god Imsety protected the liver.
MEDIUM Limestone, clay, pigment
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca.1539-1353 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS Other (A): 10 1/4 x 4 5/16 in. (26.1 x 11 cm) Other (B): 5 7/16 x 3 1/8 in. (13.8 x 8 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.1733Ea-b
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Canopic Jar with Lid in the Form of a Human Head, ca.1539-1353 B.C.E. Limestone, clay, pigment, Other (A): 10 1/4 x 4 5/16 in. (26.1 x 11 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1733Ea-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.1733Ea-b_erg456.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.37.1733Ea-b_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/6/2007
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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