Make your own canopic jars
In Ancient Egypt, people believed that everyone had three different spirits: the ka (the life force), the ba (the personality), and the akh (the soul). In order for these three spirits to survive into the afterlife, the Ancient Egyptians believed that the dead body must be preserved. Embalming and mummification were the Egyptians’ answer to this problem!
When a person was mummified, their lungs, liver, intestines and stomach were put in special containers called canopic jars. Each organ was protected by a different Anicent Egyptian god. Make your own canopic jars with this fun activity!
Sally Hewitt, Project History: Egyptians (2013) Franklin Watts
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 1 hour
The internal organs in each of your canopic jars will be protected by an Ancient Egyptian god. Copy the examples onto your sheets of cardboard – or look on the internet for more inspiration! Your gods will need to be drawn on top of a strip of cardboard that will wrap around the jars.
Colour in each of your pictures.
Cut out each of your god pictures, and the strips of cardboard that they are attached to.
Time to make your internal organs! Use your red and brown pens to colour in your dried pasta – you could soak them in cold tea, or coat them in paint if you want to get them really reddish brown!
Cut your orange into four segments. Remove the flesh from two segments so that you are left with two lung-shaped pieces of orange peel (for really authentic mummified lungs, dry out the orange peel somewhere warm!). Put the ‘intestines’ in one jar, and the ‘lungs’ in another.
The ‘liver’ is a used dried teabag, and the 'stomach' is a pink balloon that has been blown up and let down! Put these into the other two jars.
Using sticky tape, attach the correct god picture to each jar. Hapi, the baboon-headed god, protects the lungs (orange peel!).
Qebehsenuef, who has a falcon’s head, looks after the intestines (dried pasta ribbons!).
Duametef, a jackal-headed god, protects the stomach (pink balloon!).
And Imsety, with the human face, looks after the liver (dried teabag!).
Your canopic jars are now complete! Take them to the nearest Egyptian tomb and bury them alongside a mummy… or, find somewhere to display them. We chose a shelf in the YAC HQ office!!
- Four empty glass jam jars
- White cardboard or heavy paper
- Sticky tape
- Colouring pens
- Black marker pen
- Used teabag
- Dried pasta ribbons or spaghetti
- Pink balloon