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Middle Eastern
Ceremonial Artifacts ➔ Canopic Jar

This replica of a canopic jar is made of tan stone with a marbled appearance. There is a one-inch deep hole in the top of the jar and one side of the jar is decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

For ancient Egyptians, death was a rebirth where the deceased could dwell for eternity if their physical body remained intact and if they passed the Final Judgment. In order to preserve a person's body, the mummification process was practiced. This process, however, did not preserve their organs. During the 4th Dynasty when a person passed away, their internal organs were removed, covered in resin-soaked linen, and placed throughout the tomb. Eventually, these organs were stored in canopic jars to prevent decomposition and preserve the body parts for use in the afterlife. 

Crafted from ceramic, stone, or wood early designs of canopic jars featured simple lids while later models displayed human heads. Eventually, the lids showcased the four sons of Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky. Duamutef, the jackal, guarded the stomach, while the baboon, Hapy protected the lungs. Imsety, human-headed, defended the liver while the falcon-headed Qebhsenuef guarded the intestines. Images, inscriptions, or hieroglyphics often wrapped around the outside of these canopic jars. 

Ancient Egyptians also mummified the heart which they considered the keeper of the soul. It was not, however, housed in a canopic jar but was returned to the body. This was based on the belief that the heart of every individual would be tested and only the good would be admitted into the afterlife. Each person would place their heart on one side of a scale while a feather would be placed on the other. If their heart was light as a feather, the deceased would be welcomed into the Field of Reeds. If it was heavier, it would be devoured and they would not be granted access to an eternal afterlife. Since Egyptians did not consider the brain important, it was often destroyed during mummification. 
4" h
Current Location Status:
Education Program
Collection Tier:
Tier 3
Gift Of Steele A. Taylor
Discovery Cart: Egypt: Be Curious (February 4 2020)
Discovery Carts connect visitors to Museum exhibits through hands-on exploration of objects in the Collection. Knowledgeable Discovery Cart facilitators engage guests with interactive activities and discussion questions during GRPM's open hours.
[Discovery carts are offered on a rotating schedule depending on facilitator availability]

Virtual Discovery Kit: Egypt (April 2020)
This Collection will introduce you to ancient Egyptian beliefs in life and the afterlife. Widespread settlement began in ancient Egypt around 8,000 years ago in 6000 BCE, and the first pyramids of Egypt were built approximately 4,000 years ago, around 2000 BCE. Many of the items in this Collection are from this period! 
Related Entity:
Steele A. Taylor (donor)
Steele Taylor is a New Jersey native and a World War II Navy veteran. In 1948, after earning a degree in economics from Williams College in Winston, Massachusetts, he accepted a job offer from Dohler-Jarvis in Grand Rapids. In 1960 he moved to Grand Rapids Steel and was part owner and president when he retired in 1985. He has served on many boards throughout his career, such as the Mary Free Bed Hospital, Aquinas Emeritus Center, various Hospice boards and former member and president of the Art and Museum Board. Steele and his wife Mary are consummate world travelers and their collection is a testament to their travels. Artifacts donated by Steele are exceptional resources, representing various regions of the world. He has also donated an extensive collection of pewter items to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.