These limestone canopic jars were uncovered by archaeologists in the Tomb of Queen Meresankh III. A canopic jar was buried with the dead in Ancient Egypt filled with one of the organs of the deceased, always in groups of four.

The group of four canopic jars that were buried with the deceased were meant to protect the organs that would be needed in the afterlife. The heart was left inside the body as it was believed to be the seat of the soul.

In Meresankh’s time period, the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, the canopic jars and plain, undecorated lids that you see here. In later time periods, these lids become decorated with head of humans or gods, such as the children of Horus: Hapi, Duamutef, Imsety, and Qebehsenuef. Each of these guarded a specific human organ: Hapi, the lungs; Duamutef, the stomach; Imsety, the liver; and Qebehsenuef, the intestines.

They were often buried in an elaborated decorated chest, such as in the Tomb of Tutankhamun in later period of Ancient Egypt.

Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Height: lid: 2 cm; jar: 24.8 cm Diameter: lid base: 10.1 cm; lid top: 12 cm; jar mouth: 10 - 12.7 cm; jar max: 15 cm; jar base: 9.5 cm x 10 cm Thickness: jar: 1.5 cm Depth: jar: 21.5 cm
G 7530-7540: pit G 7530 A, debris of canopic pit (jar found in canopic pit, lid found in debris of chamber near sarcophagus)
MFA accession number: 27.1551.1-4
Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition