Canopic Jars: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about canopic jars.

  • Canopic jars were used in Ancient Egypt to store the organs of dead pharaohs. They were used during the mummification process, in which the body was preserved by keeping removing moisture.

  • Egyptian pharaohs and other important people were buried with four canopic jars, one each for the intestines, stomach, liver or lugs. The heart was thought to be the soul of the body and was left inside the corpse.
  • The jars were often made from pottery or wood, or were carved from limestone. Today, canopic jars can be seen in many museums, including the British Museum in London.
  • They were used between about 2680 BC and about 300 BC. The designs of the jars changed over time, and later jars had long inscriptions carved on them.
  • By about 2200 BC the jars had lids carved with the faces of the dead person. They were also sometimes painted with the face of Anubis, the god of embalming and death.
  • Later canopic jars also had lids or stoppers, carved with one of the four sons of Horus. These four gods looked after the organs of the dead person during their journey to the afterlife.
  • Hapi, the baboon-headed god had the job of guarding the lungs. He was usually shown as facing north, and his name may have had something to do with steering a boat.
  • Duamutef, the jackal-headed god, guarded the dead person’s stomach. According to Egyptian legend, he was born on a lily flower in the ocean.
  • Imseti was a human-headed god and was protected by Isis, the goddess of marriage and health. Imseti was responsible for watching over the dead person’s liver.
  • Qebehsenuef was a falcon headed god and was responsible for guarding the intestines. He was protected by the goddess Serket, the goddess of animals, magic, medicine and stings and bites.

Hatshepsut: Facts About the Ancient Egyptian Pharoah

Here are some facts about Hatshepsut.

  • Hatshepsut lived from about 1508 to 1458 BC, and was the 5th Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty. She reigned for about 22 years, making her one of the country’s longest reigning pharaohs.

  • It was almost unheard of to have a female ruler of Egypt at that time. Hatshepsut even dressed to look like a man, in a headdress and false beard.
  • Hatshepsut was more interested in building monuments in Egypt and making sure the country was rich, rather than invading other lands. She established new and existing trade routes.
  • One of her biggest achievements was the building of hundreds of monuments, temples and statues all over Egypt. Almost every major museum has at least one statue of her.
  • Hatshepsut ordered obelisks built to celebrate her 16th year as Pharaoh. Today one of the unfinished obelisks can still be seen in a quarry at Aswan.
  • She also built two of the tallest obelisks in the world at that time, at the huge temple at Karnack. One of the 30 metre tall structures is still standing today, 3,500 years later.
  • She planned and financed an expedition to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf. The expedition returned with 31 live myrrh trees, probably the first ever attempt to relocate live trees.
  • Hatshepsut built her own mortuary temple to house her body after death, near the Valley of the Kings. The beautiful and symmetrical building is considered to be a masterpiece of architecture.
  • Hatshepsut died in her early 50s and, although the cause of death is not known, she may have had arthritis, bone cancer and a skin disease. Some historians think her stepson killed her.
  • Various tests have attempted to identify the mummy of Hatshepsut, although these have been inconclusive. She may have been buried in the same tomb as her nurse.

What next? Discover more facts about the Ancient Egyptians.

Tutankhamun: Facts About the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh

Here are some facts about Tutankhamun.

  • Tutankhamun was one of the most famous Egyptian Pharaohs. He ruled Egypt during the 18th dynasty, between about 1332 and 1323 BC.
  • The tomb of Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by Howard Carter.

  • The tomb was smaller than many Pharaoh’s tombs. This is perhaps due to Tutankhamun’s untimely death, meaning there was no time for an elaborate tomb.
  • The body of Tutankhamun was buried in a wooden coffin covered with gold and placed inside a huge granite sarcophagus. The coffin was made from 110 kg of solid gold.
  • Tutankhamun was about 180 cm tall and was of slight build. He may have had a foot deformity or have been crippled; some ancient paintings and carvings clearly show him using a cane.

Tutankhamun

  • The burial mask of Tutankhamun is one of the most recognizable of Egyptian artifacts. It weighed 10 kg, was made from solid gold and had precious stones set into it.
  • Tutankhamun was only 18 when he died. He may have died from malaria or from a chariot crash, and some historians even suggest that he was murdered.
  • The items from the tomb of Tutankhamun are some of the most seen and most travelled artifacts in history. A 1972 exhibition in London was viewed by 1.6 million visitors.
  • Today, many of the treasures from his tomb are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. On display are gold and ivory bracelets, a gold chest, medicine, weapons and clothing.
  • Over the years, King Tut has been used as a brand name for different products, including cotton, antiques and matches. It was also the name of President Hoover’s pet dog.

What next? Find out more about the Ancient Egyptians by visiting our resources page.

Shaduf: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the shaduf.

  • A shaduf is a hand operated device used for lifting water out of a well or reservoir. It was invented by the Ancient Egyptians and is still used today, in Egypt, India and other countries.

  • The device is extremely efficient and easy to use. It is estimated that it can easily and with little effort lift more than 2,500 litres per day.
  • The shaduf (or shadoof) consisted of a long wooden pole balanced on a beam. The pole had a bucket attached by a rope to one end and a heavy weight acting as a counterweight on the other end.

Shaduf

  • Some hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs show people using the shaduf. From hieroglyphics, (writing in pictures), archaeologists and historians have learned a lot about daily life in Ancient Egypt.
  • The Egyptians built reservoirs made from bricks and mud to hold water. During floods, a connecting network of canals filled with water and the shaduf was used to refill the reservoirs.
  • In Ancient Egypt, the River Nile flooded every June. As well as moving the water with shadufs, the Egyptians went fishing and mended their tools during this time.
  • The shaduf was used to lift water from one place to another to irrigate crops. Despite the arid desert, the Ancient Egyptians grew barley, wheat and other crops.
  • The typical shaduf was able to hold 20 litres of water. The container part of the device was usually made from animal skins or clay.
  • Nobody knows for sure how the Ancient Egyptians built the huge pyramids. They may have used a massive versions of the shaduf to lift the stone blocks, weighing up to 15 tonnes.
  • The SHADUF project began in 2004 to study ancient irrigation techniques. The project attempted to focus attention on different ways of collecting water and irrigating in the Mediterranean area.

What next? Learn more about the Ancient Egyptians by visiting our resources page.

Howard Carter: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Howard Carter, the English archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Tutankhmun.

  • Howard Carter was born on 9th May 1874 in Kensington, London.
  • His father, Samuel John Carter, was an artist.

  • As a child, Howard Carter was often unwell, and he spent a lot of time in Swaffham in Norfolk.
  • He was home-schooled.
  • When he was 17 years old, Carter worked in Egypt as an archaeological artist. He produced drawings and diagrams of important Ancient Egyptian finds and sites for the Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • In 1899 he was made first inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. He supervised a number of archaeological excavations, and carried out several excavations of his own – discovering the tombs of Thutmose I and Thutmose III.
  • In 1907, Lord Carnarvon, a wealthy English aristocrat, hired Howard Carter to lead an excavation of an Ancient Egyptian tomb.
  • In 1914, Lord Carnarvon obtained the right to dig on site KV62. This was the supposed location of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and Howard Carter was chosen to manage the project.
  • Carter put together a team of workers, but the outbreak of World War 1 interrupted the project. Work resumed in 1917 and carried on for several years.
  • In 1922, frustrated that the tomb of Tutankhamun had not yet been discovered, Lord Carnarvon said he was going to stop funding the excavation in a years time if more progress wasn’t made.
  • On 4th November 1922, one of Howard Carter’s team discovered a stone step in the sand. A whole flight of steps was soon revealed, and they led to Tutanhhamun’s tomb.
  • The tomb was sealed by a stone door, and on 26th November 1922 Howard Carter chiseled a small hole in the door and looked inside. In response to a question by Lord Carnarvon, Carter famously said he could see ‘wonderful things’ within the antechamber.
Howard Carter
Howard Carter opens the tomb of Tutankhamun
  • Howard Carter spent months drawing, cataloging and removing the artefacts, many of them made from gold, from the antechamber before he opened the door from the antechamber to Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
  • The burial chamber contained the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.
  • Tutankhamun’s tomb was the most well-preserved pharoah’s tomb to have been found in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Carter worked on it until 1932.
  • Howard Carter became a celebrity and he toured the US, lecturing about his finds.
  • Howard Carter died on 2nd March 1939, aged 64. He was suffering from lymphoma.
  • Lord Carnarvon died from an infected mosquito bite on 5th April 1923. This led to newspapers talking about the ‘curse of the pharaohs’ causing the deaths of those who disturb the mummy of an Ancient Egytpian pharaoh. Howard Carter himself didn’t believe in the existence of a curse, and nor do most modern historians.

What next? Discover more Ancient Egyptian facts by visiting our Ancient Egyptian resources page.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: Facts and Information

The Ancient Egyptians worshipped many different gods and goddesses, and the importance of the different deities shifted and evolved over time. Some gods were more important in certain parts of Egypt, some gods became more popular as the years went by, yet some were almost completely forgotten, and some were combined with other gods, taking on a new form or role.

Use the links below to find information and facts about some of the most important of the Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Osiris

Anubis

Isis

Horus

Bastet

What next? Find out more facts about Ancient Egypt by visiting our Ancient Egyptian resources page.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: Bastet Facts

Here are some facts about Bastet, the Ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess.

  • In the Nile River delta region of Ancient Egypt, Bast was worshiped as a goddess of war and the protector of Lower Egypt. Over time, however, the role and appearance of the goddess evolved. Bast the fierce lioness changed into Bastet, the goddess of domestic cats.

  • Bastet was associated with motherhood. She is often depicted with a litter of kittens, and women sometimes wore amulets depicting Bastet with her offspring.
  • Although Bastet was usually shown in the form of a domestic cat or as a woman with the head of a domestic cat, she was also shown in the form of a woman holding a lioness mask.
Bastet
Bastet (Source)
  • More than 300,000 mummified cats were found during excavations of the Temple of Bast at Bubastis in Lower Egypt.
  • Bastet was the daughter of Ra, the Sun God.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: Horus Facts

Here are some facts about Horus, one of the most important Ancient Egyptian Gods.

  • Horus was worshiped from the very beginning of the Ancient Egyptian period to the very end. He was incredibly important and his role evolved over time.

  • Horus is often said to be the son of Isis and Osiris, but one of the Ancient Egyptian myths says that Hathor was his mother. Other myths state that Horus was the son of Nut and Geb, and Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys were his siblings.
  • Horus is usually depicted as either a falcon, or a man with a falcon head.

Horus

  • Horus was the national, patron god of the Ancient Egyptians. He was also known as the god of the sky, the god of hunting and the god of war. In addition, he was associated with the sun and protection.
  • For much of the Ancient Egyptian period, the Egyptian Pharaohs believed that they were Horus in human form.
  • Horus fought many battles with Set (who had killed his father) in order to decide who would control Egypt. Horus finally gains the throne of Egypt, but Set remains Lord of the Desert.

Eye of Horus

  • The Eye of Horus (the Wedjat Eye) is an important Ancient Egyptian symbol of protection. The sign was often painted on boats to ward against shipwrecks and storms.

What next? Learn about some of the other Ancient Egyptian gods, or take a look at our Ancient Egyptian resources page.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: Osiris Facts

Here are some facts about Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian God.

  • Osiris is associated with the dead. He is often called the god of the afterlife and the ruler of the underworld.
  • He was the son of the Ged (the Earth God) and Nut (the Sky Goddess). His sister and wife was the goddess Isis.

  • In many of the Ancient Egyptian myths, Isis and Osiris are the parents of Horus.
  • According to one of the myths, Set killed Osiris by tricking him into getting into a box. Set sealed the box and threw it into the River Nile. Isis, the wife of Osiris, found Osiris’ body and used her magic to bring it back to life. Isis became pregnant with Horus and Osiris died once more. Isis buried Osiris in the desert. Set discovered the body of Osiris and was so angry that he tore the body into several pieces, scattering them throughout Egypt. Isis painstakingly collected all of the body parts and reassembled them for burial. The gods were impressed by the actions of Isis and brought Osiris back to rule the underworld as the Lord of the Dead.

Osiris

  • Osiris is usually depicted with as a man with green skin (to represent rebirth and regrowth). His legs are wrapped like an Egyptian mummy and he has a long beard (as worn by the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs). He often wears a crown decorated with ostrich feathers and he holds a crook in one hand and a flail in the other.

What next? Find out about some of the other Ancient Egyptian gods, or visit our Ancient Egyptian resources page.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: Isis Facts

Here are some facts about Isis, the Ancient Egyptian Goddess.

  • Isis was the daughter of Geb (God of the Earth) and Nut (Goddess of the Sky).
  • Osiris was both the brother and husband of Isis. In some of the Ancient Egyptian myths, Horus is their son.

  • Isis was associated with many different things and she was worshiped by different groups for different reasons. She was associated with motherhood, fertility, children, nature, and magic.

Isis

  • Her name means ‘throne’, and a her headdress is often depicted as a throne.
  • Isis helped to resurrect Osiris following his dismemberment by Set.
  • According to some of the myths, the annual flooding of the Nile River was caused by the tears Isis wept for Osiris.
  • Worship of Isis extended beyond Ancient Egypt. Throughout the Roman Empire evidence can be found of temples constructed in her honour.
  • In one of the myths, Isis uses her magical powers to heal Horus (her son) from the sting of a scorpion.
  • She is often depicted nursing the baby Horus.

What next? Discover more facts about the Ancient Egyptian gods, or check out our Ancient Egyptian resources page.