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Cazenovia Library Museum adds new item to Egypt collection

Canopic jar now resides in Hen’s mummy case

The more than 2,000-year-old canopic jar recently acquired for the Cazenovia Public Library Museum’s Egypt Gallery, top left, is now on display in the mummy case. The artifact was purchased for the library collection through funds received from a Central New York Community Foundation grant.

The more than 2,000-year-old canopic jar recently acquired for the Cazenovia Public Library Museum’s Egypt Gallery, top left, is now on display in the mummy case. The artifact was purchased for the library collection through funds received from a Central New York Community Foundation grant. Photo by Jason Emerson.

photo

courtesy jonathan holstein

Canopic jars were special containers crafted in stone, wood or ceramic used to hold the four main organs of a body that were removed during the mummification process. Each jar had the head of a different god, known as the four ‘sons of Horus’: Qebhsenuef, with the head of a falcon, who looked after the intestines; Duamutef, with the head of a jackal, who looked after the stomach; Hapy, with the head of a baboon, who looked after the lungs; and Imsety, with a human head, who looked after the liver.

— A new item has been added to the Cazenovia Public Library Museum’s Egypt Gallery collection, that, along with a mummified falcon acquired five years ago, adds to the museum’s interpretation of funerary rites of ancient Egypt.

The completely intact alabaster canopic jar — once used to hold mummified internal organs — now sits inside the museum’s mummy case, overlooking Hen, a 2,000-year-old mummy, and directly opposite the mummified falcon representing Horus, the god of the sun, war and protection.

The jar was acquired by the library through a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation and put on display in the Egypt Gallery late last year, said Betsy Kennedy, library director.

“I think many people, especially children, have heard of canopic jars and we’re often asked about them, and now one is here and we can share it with them,” Kennedy said.

The library’s Egypt Gallery is a trove of treasures collected and sent back to Cazenovia from resident Robert Hubbard’s 1894 grand tour of Egypt. Victorian-era travelers like Hubbard typically collected numerous Egyptian artifacts as souvenirs of their travels (a practice no longer allowed), and Hubbard was no different. He collected and sent back home to Cazenovia Hen’s complete mummy and case; parts of other mummies such as masks, breastplates and sandals; ushabtis, scarabs, jewelry and even mummified animals.

Hubbard created the library museum in the current library building in 1895, and on the second floor established a “Museum of Curiosities” of his Egyptian souvenirs, along with numerous other historic and natural artifacts from across the world. The museum has remained intact ever since, although it was moved from the second floor to its current location on the first floor in 1998.

In 2008, the Central New York Community Foundation granted the library $24,500 to acquire objects needed to round out its Egyptian collection, and Jonathan Holstein, a library board member, independent curator and art dealer, began searching for items he felt the collection needed.

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