EGYPT, Possibly Qurna
Canopic jar with lid representing Duamutef
Third Intermediate Period,
Dynasties XXI-XXV, 1069-664 BC limestone
Presented by James E. Sherrard Esq., 1881 (2.a-b-D 1 A)
From an early stage in the development of their beliefs in the afterlife, the Egyptians linked the preservation of the body with eternal life. If the body was damaged or destroyed then continued existence after death was affected. Whilst substitutes for the body might be placed within the tomb in the form of models or statues, or depictions of the deceased carved upon the tomb walls or a stela, the preservation of the physical remains was always of paramount concern.
The earliest techniques involved wrapping of the body in linen; burial in sand-filled put
graves and the head of the sun’s rays combined effectively to preserve the remains. The most effective were costly and only available to the elite. By the early Old Kingdom royalty had access to evisceration which prevented the decomposition of the internal organs that reduced the likehood of the body’s survival.
The live, lungs, intestines and stomach were removed; the heart was left in place. Necessary to the functioning of the body in the next life, like the body, were desiccated in matron, wrapped in linen and placed in what we term “canopic” jars. They were included in the burial and protected by one of the four sons of Horus and also one of the goddess Isis, Nephthys, Neith or Selkit. From Dynasty XIX, jar lids was formed of the head of its protective god: human-headed Imsety (Liver), baboon-headed Hapy (Lungs), jackal-headed Duamutef (Stomach) or falcon-headed Qebehsenuef (Intestine).