Canopic jar of Perneb

Old Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 100

Vessels in which the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were deposited during mummification are referred to as "canopic jars." Early Egyptologists mistakenly likened Middle Kingdom and later organ containers that were covered by lids shaped as human heads to images of the Greek hero Canopus, who was worshipped as a human-headed vessel. Old Kingdom organ containers, however, had simple convex lids and were seldom inscribed.

This jar was found with three others (see 14.7.17–.19) in the burial chamber of Perneb, south of his sarcophagus. However, the jars were never used; their interiors are absolutely clean. Presumably, the simple presence of the jars was sufficient to magically protect the organs, even if the viscera themselves remained inside the body.

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