The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt

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Canopic jars of Prince Hornakht Canopic jars of Prince Hornakht
Twenty-second Dynasty, reign of Osorkon II, 874-850 BC
alabaster
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

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ALAN SHESTACK: These four alabaster jars, with lids in the form of protective deities, belonged to an Egyptian prince who was buried at the capital of Tanis, in the Nile delta, about 3000 years ago.

DAVID O'CONNOR: The purpose of the canopic jars was to contain the inner organs of the human body, which were removed during mummification, separately mummified, and wrapped, and in many periods of Egyptian history then placed in these jars, and these canopic jars are always placed in the burial chamber, close to the mummified body in its coffin.

BETSY BRYAN: The Egyptians didn't, the way we do, think of people as having a soul that could exist separate from its container. They believed that the body would remain in the tomb forever and that it would be visited by its spirit regularly.

AS: The jars contained the dried and wrapped lungs, liver, stomach and intestines--soft organs that might speed decay if left in the body. They were considered essential for survival in the afterlife. The brain, considered worthless, was summarily removed and discarded. Only the heart, believed to be the center of consciousness, was left in place.