Canopic Jar of Ahmose

LL 5134a


When an ancient Egyptian called Ahmose was mummified, his internal organs were removed to prevent the body from rotting. They were dried, wrapped in textile and placed in a canopic jar and buried with Ahmose Each organ was protected by one of the four sons of Horus. This canopic jar is carved from Egyptian alabaster, creamy yellow in colour with horizontal veins. Within the hollow interior is a deposit of a black shiny substance and remains of the layers of bandage once wrapped around the contents, perhaps the wrapped intestines [now kept separate in a box LL 5134b]. Four columns of an inscription, with incised lines separating the columns and forming a box around the whole inscription, have been roughly pecked out, originally filled with a black sub-stance of which only faint traces remain. From right to left the hieroglyphs read: "Recitation by Selket: 'I have extended the protection which I can provide, providing safety for Kebeh-senuf who is within m e. The protection of the Osiris, the god's father, sm-priest, wnr- priest in Letopolis, prophet of Amun-ra, lord of Khent-nefer, Iah-mes, the son of Pa-di-ptah, born to the lady of the house Ta-[nt]-nefer-tem, justified, is the protection of Qebehsenuef. (For) the Osiris Iah-mes is Qebehsenuef’". Diameter of base 113 mm; the interior cavity has almost straight sides; diameter of mouth 92 mm; depth of jar at least 157 mm. Ahmose’s canopic jars are some of the first Egyptian antiquities to be collected by European explorers. In 1719 his canopic jars were drawn by Bernard Montaucon (1655 - 1741) a French Benedictine monk and scholar who published them in his book, ‘L'antiquité expliquée et representée en figures’ (later translated into English ‘Antiquity Explained and Represented in Sculptures’). Each jar is inscribed for a priest called Ahmose, whose name means ‘the moon has given birth’. The two other jars from Ahmose’s set of four are now in the collections of the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Calvet Museum in Avignon. Purchased at Sotheby's 23-24 July 1917 (Hope sale) Lot 172/4: "FOUR CANOPIC JARS IN ALABASTER, comprising Mestha, the man-headed - 17 in. high ; Hapi, the ape-headed - 14 in. high ; Qebhsennuf, the hawk-headed - 13 in. high ; and Tuamutef, the jackal-headed - 15 in. high. All the vases, with the exception of the first, fully inscribed - a remarkable set of the highest importance [PLATE IV.]".