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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.

— “I found some good examples of Egyptian jewelry, and then an important piece on my list, a wonderful mummified falcon, emblematic of the god Horus, perhaps the most ancient and significant deity in Egyptian cosmology,” Holstein said. “But that still left the major piece on my list: a canopic jar to accompany our mummy, Hen.”

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.

Holstein was particularly interested in acquiring for the museum an Imsety canopic jar, one that was “well-modeled and carved in stone, and, of course, one the library could afford,” he said. After four years of searching, he found what he wanted in a New York auction and purchased it. And now the canopic jar is a part of the Egypt Gallery.

The jar’s purchase effectively utilized the last of the CNYCF grant. The funding also was used to acquire the falcon mummy, some jewelry and a mortar and pestal used to grind cosmetics, as well as creating informative and appropriate graphics for the cases and developing and installing the interactive video presentations that give context and historical background to the exhibition and Egyptian culture.

These previous items and gallery renovations were completed and opened to the public in 2009.

Since Hen is a later mummy and buried with his organs intact, his original burial would not have included canopic jars, Kennedy said, but the acquisition is still a major part of the museum’s interpretation of Egyptian funerary rites.

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