Canopic jar

As canopic jars (also canopic jars or Kanopenvasen ) are in Egyptology refers to the vessels in which case the mummification in ancient Egypt the entrails were buried separately from the body.

Name derivation and representation

The name is derived from the representation of Osiris Canobus, which was created through the merger of Canopus and Osiris. The preparation was carried out as a pitcher or egg-shaped object with a human head. Were a result, in Egyptology all such vessels called canopic jars.


The earliest Canopic jars are already known from the end of the 4th dynasty of Meresanch III .. canopic jars from the fifth dynasty are already common. You are vase-shaped, first provided unmarked and with a flat lid. The vessels were in early times of clay, alabaster and limestone. From the late Old Kingdom, the canopic jars were partially labeled, provided in the Middle Kingdom with human-headed lids.

Usually found in the tombs of four canopic jars in which the viscera were buried. Since the Middle Kingdom, the internal organs were under the protection of the Sons of Horus, the four canopic gods of the contactor:

  • Duamutef for the stomach, depicted as a falcon since the 19th Dynasty
  • Imseti for the liver, in human form
  • Hapi shown for the lungs, since the 19th Dynasty as a monkey ( baboon ) and
  • Kebechsenuef responsible for the intestines, since the 19th dynasty represented as a jackal.

In the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period, there is also anecdotal evidence that the viscera were entombed as miniature mummies and then buried in the canopic jars. This looked like miniature mummies and could even wear a small mask. The lids of the canopic jars were in the Amarna period individualized human traits of the deceased (see Tutankhamun ). Since the 19th Dynasty the lids of the vessels bore the characteristic animal heads which they sheltered gods.

The presence of the canopic jars in the tombs seemed more important than the original objective function to have been: so they found mummies whose viscera were not removed. In the second half of the Third Intermediate Period was entirely dispensed with canopic jars; the intestines were placed back into the body and protected by wax figures of the Sons of Horus. From this and the later period also Scheinkanopen without internal cavity are known.