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.

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.

Facts About Ancient Egyptian Pets

Animals were an incredibly important part of life in Ancient Egypt. They were hunted for sport and food, reared as livestock on farms, and some species were domesticated and kept as pets.

It is thought that cats, dogs, monkeys, geese and gazelles were often kept in Ancient Egyptian homes. These creatures certainly weren’t wild anymore, but they may not have been domesticated to the same degree as the pets of today.

Ancient Egyptian Dogs

  • Although the Ancient Egyptians named their dogs and often gave them collars, they were not treated in exactly the same way as today’s pet dogs. The dogs of Ancient Egypt were mostly working animals. They accompanied their owners on hunting trips and they were frequently used as guard dogs.
  • Dogs were considered to be much less important than humans and it was a common Ancient Egyptian insult to refer to someone as a dog.
  • That said, some Ancient Egyptians obviously enjoyed the companionship offered by their dogs, and dogs were sometimes mummified and buried with their masters.
  • Ancient Egyptian dogs were related to the greyhounds, salukis, and possibly even the mastiff and dachshunds of today.

Ancient Egyptian Cats

  • The Ancient Egyptians were absolutely fascinated with cats, and it is thought that most Ancient Egyptian families kept at least one as a pet.
  • Cats were often used by the Ancient Egyptians on hunting trips to fetch birds and fish from the marshes around the Nile River.
  • Cats were probably originally allowed into the houses of the Ancient Egyptians becasue they caught rats and chased snakes away from the home. However, cats soon became even more important to the lives of the Ancient Egyptians.
  • They took on a spiritual importance and were considered to be a sacred animal with magical powers. The Ancient Egyptians believed that keeping a cat would protect their homes and bring them good luck.
  • Several Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses were associated with cats, the most famous of which was the goddess called Bastet.
  • Bastet had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. Bastet was known as the ‘household goddess’ and was responsible for mothers, children, pet cats, fertility and dancing.
  • Due to their link to the goddess Bastet, many Ancient Egyptian cats were mummified.
  • The popularity of the cat grew during the Ancient Egyptian period and it was a common motif on jewellery, ornaments and amulets.
  • If an Ancient Egyptian had a dream about a cat it was thought to bring good fortune.
  • The penalty for killing a cat in Ancient Egypt, even accidentally, was often death.
  • Most modern day pet cats are probably related to the pet cats of the Ancient Egyptians.

15 Nile Crocodile Facts

Here are some fascinating facts about the Nile crocodile.

  1. The latin name for Nile Crocodile is Crocodylus niloticus.
  2. Nile crocodiles can live to be over 40 years old.
  3. They can grow to be about 6 metres long and can weigh over 700 kg.
  4. They are the largest species of crocodilian in Africa.
  5. Nile crocodiles are carnivores (they eat only meat). They mainly eat fish, but will also go for small hippos, zebras and birds if they get the chance. They will also eat carrion (the meat from animals that they haven’t killed themselves).
  6. Nile crocodiles will also attack and eat humans. Each year it is estimated that between 100 and 200 people are killed by these reptiles.
  7. The Nile crocodile nearly became extinct in the middle of the twentieth century, but they are now a protected species and the population has risen.

Facts about the Nile Crocodile in Ancient Egypt

  1. Mummified crocodiles and their eggs have been found in the tombs of Ancient Egyptians.
  2. The Nile crocodiles were worshipped in Ancient Egypt and the god Sobek had the head of a crocodile.
  3. The goddess Ammut (the female devourer) was also associated with the Nile crocodile.
  4. Crocodiles often appeared in tomb carvings.
  5.  The moat around a fort at Sile was apparently filled with Nile crocodiles.
  6. The Ancient Egyptians did hunt the Nile crocodile using harpoons.
  7. Attempts were made to tame crocodiles and they were often kept in the houses of rich people where they were decorated with jewels and allowed to roam freely!
  8. The Ancient Egyptians believed that praying to Sobek would protect you against being attacked by Nile crocodiles.

Find out more about the Nile River and the Ancient Egyptians by following these links.