Canopic Jar
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Basic Information

Canopic jars were funerary goods from the culture of Ancient Egypt, integral to the process of mummification. As the name suggests, these were jars - generally made of stone or ceramics - and came in sets of four. Each jar had a lid shaped to depict a specific deity and was used to contain a specific set of the mummy's internal organs, removed for embalming purposes. The deities in question were the four sons of Horus - who were also associated with the cardinal directions - and the allocation was as follows:

Note that the heart was not removed by the Egyptians - doing so would have broken the link between the body and soul - the brain was removed, but was discarded since it was not considered significant … a fate which might also have been shared by the more miscellaneous internal organs (unless they were simply considered "intestines" or otherwise associated with one of the specified organs). Despite modern depictions, the eyes were also not removed and presumably dried in place. Since no form of preservation is cited for the contents of the jars the stored organs would probably have become disgusting really quite quickly.

Once filled, the jars would then be loaded into the tomb with the sarcophagus, sometimes in a chest of their own, or sometimes in niches in the bier.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Probably a disgusting surprise for anyone unfamiliar with Egyptian burial practices.
  • Drying these organs before packing them into the jars could save a lot of mass and space.
  • Possibly a mummy could prove indestructible until its canopic jars have been destroyed.
  • A fantasy religion doesn't need to leave the heart in place - indeed it would be quite thematic to pull it out and use it as the seat of the mummy's eternal life and requiring its destruction to put the mummy down.
  • It would also be thematically appropriate - but ahistorical - for the organs to be linked back into the body with amulets, probably shaped like the organ and decorated with the image or symbol of the tutelary deity.
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