Classic Court


Late Period, Dynasty 26, 664–325 BCE, Set of Canopic Jars, limestone with traces of paint, about 600 BCE. Toledo Museum of Art, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1906.14–17

In order for them to spend a pleasant eternity in the Afterlife, ancient Egyptians believed that the body needed to be preserved so that the soul/life-force could recognize it and reunite with it. After death, the embalmers—who wore masks of the jackal-headed god of embalming, Anubis— removed the brain and internal organs to slow the process of decay. The heart—the seat of emotion and thought—was dried and put back in place. The heart, lungs, liver, and intestines were preserved and either placed in canopic jars or dried and wrapped and placed back inside the body. The body was dried out with natron, a natural mixture of salts, then wrapped in linen strips adhered with resin.

The Mummification Process (Getty Museum)