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Canopic jar, Egypt, 2000 BCE-100 CE

Science Museum, London

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Credit: Canopic jar, Egypt, 2000 BCE-100 CE. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The intestines, stomach, lungs and liver were removed from the body as part of ancient Egyptian mummification. The organs were placed in individual carved limestone canopic jars, each with a different shaped head representing four corresponding Egyptian gods – the Sons of Horus. Each ‘Son’ looked after a different body part. Human-headed lids, such as this one, represent Imsety (Mestha), guardian of the liver. The jackal-headed Duamutef was the guardian of the stomach. The falcon-headed Qebhsnuf looked after the intestines; the baboon-headed Hapi looked after the lungs.

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