Canopic jar chests were among the most important ritualistic items utilized in the elaborate burial customs that the Egyptians practiced. Prior to the mummification process many organs were taken out of the dead body and placed inside Canopic jars which would in turn be placed inside a Canopic chest. The chest containing the organs would be placed adjacent to the tomb in a dedicated space called the Canopic shrine.
According to ancient Egyptian belief the deceased had the ability to return to its body if it willed. This is why they considered it imperative to preserve the various organs. The entire mummification process where the organs would be removed and stored in these jars to be kept in the chest was quite elaborate and could take numerous days.
It was in the second Dynasty that using Canopic chests originated. Over the days the Canopic jar chests were modified every now and then depicting various kinds of designs. They were in use until the beginning of the Ptolemaic period.
The tomb of Queen Meresankh III discovered at Giza is an evidence to indicate that it is among the oldest Canopic burials of the fourth Dynasty under the Menkaure rule. Similarly some other Canopic burials have been found in the tombs from the Sneferu rule.
In the very first Canopic jars, the organs which were removed from the corpse were secured in wooden boxes. In some other instances, these were kept in stone jars or in pottery and closed with flat or dome-shaped lids. The chests were either designed by cutting out from soft stone, or were cut appropriately into the wall or ground of the specified tomb.
By the sixth Dynasty the Canopic jar chests were being made from granite. By the 1700s a wide variety of materials were used to create the chests including wood, cartonnage, limestone and calcite.
The Canopic jars that contained the organs of the dead body also went through a series of modifications with time. They started out as simple stone jars with flat lids. The very first modification came in the form of domed lids.
Following this the Egyptians experimented with several different materials which they used to create the jars. These jars contained four organs that were the liver, the stomach, the lungs and the intestines. Each of these organs was associated with specific deities.
Over time, many modifications of the Canopic jars were conceptualized, but some were applied to them. In some jars the lids were sculpted to portray jackal heads. This was supposed to portray the four sons of Horus. Every organ was related to a son, and they were given protection by another Egyptian deity possessing more power.
Ancient Egyptian Jar Chests hold special significance amongst enthusiasts in this field. In case you are pondering making a purchase you ought to have a read of our web page about Ancient Egyptian Water Clocks.