Archaeological Museum of Bologna

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Collections / Itineraries / Egyptian Collection: Middle Kingdom

Cist with canopic jars

The viscera of the deceased, removed during the mummification process, were preserved in four vessels referred to as Canopic jars in order to maintain the integrity of the body.

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The Bologna museum has four Canopic jars that are unique, as they are made from the same block of limestone as the cist holding them. The lids, shaped like human heads, are the only mobile part of the jar, and the style allows us to date the object to the Middle Kingdom (1987–1640 BC). During the Old Kingdom the jars were sealed with simple discs or overturned bowls, whereas in the New Kingdom (1539–1075 BC) they were made to resemble the sons of Horus, the protector of organs: Amset with a human head for the liver, Duamutef with a jackal’s head for the stomach, Hapi with a baboon’s head for the lungs, and Khebeksenuf with a falcon’s head for the intestines.

Provenance: Provenance unknown. Palagi Collection (Fontana)
Datation: 12th–13th dynasty (1938–1640 BC)
Material: Limestone
Dimensions: cm 46 x 46
Inventory #: KS 3247

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