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Canopic Jars

Canopic Jars

What are canopic jars? These strange looking jars typically held the organs of deceased Egyptians.  Most commonly used for the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, they contained 4 organs. A baboon jar held the lungs and was said to be protected by the Egyptian goddess Nephthys, a falcon jar contained the intestines (both small and large) and was said to be protected by the goddess Serqet, one with a human head held the liver and was said to be protected by the goddess Isis, and a jackal jar held the stomach and was protected by the goddess Neith.

Why did they put those organs in jars and why didn’t they take out the heart? The ancient Egyptians believed that these organs were needed when going into the afterlife. The heart on the other hand, was the seat of Ka or the soul so the embalmers would not remove that, lest the deceased might not get to cross the river into the afterlife. Once in the afterlife the deceased would meet with Anubis the god of Death, who would weigh the heart against the feather of Maat or “Truth”.  If the heart was lighter (meaning they had done good deeds in their lives), they would move forward into the afterlife. However, if the opposite was the case, their hearts and, thus themselves, would be eaten by the goddess Ammut and they would never be seen again.

Interested in making your own canopic jar? Stop by the library on Thursday, October 26, 2023 to pick up your own Take and Make kit!


-Written by Nicholas Sherer, Teen Central Library Assistant

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