Ancient Egyptian Canopic Jar, ca. 340 BC (Late Period)

Value (2009) | $20,000 Insurance

This was my great- grandfather's, and he was a collector of antiquities. And a friend of his sent this to him. And he actually bought it from some gentlemen digging in the pyramids in Egypt.

What date would this be?

I don't know the date of the letter. We have the original letter. We didn't bring it with us today. APRAISER: I did see a copy of something that you had. It was dated, I think, 1897.

Yes, that's probably right.

It's in fact a canopic jar. And it's from Egypt. It's made of an indurated limestone. They usually come in sets of four, and dedicated to Horus, and they're called the Four Sons of Horus, which also each represent the four points of the compass. And they would have different heads on them. There's be a human head, there'd be a jackal's head, there's a baboon's head, and there's a Horus's head. This is a baboon head. This is called Hapi, and represents the north. And these canopic jars were used in the mummification process and contained the viscera, or the organs in the body, of the person being mummified for use in the afterlife. And the Hapi one, or the baboon canopic jar, would have had the lungs. Of course, it's empty now, thankfully.

Yes. (laughing)

Now, they started doing these in the Old Kingdom, which is about 2,500 years B.C., and they were plain. They then, in the Intermediate Period, about 1000 B.C., started to have heads on them. This is, I think, from the Late Period, which is between 750 and about 350 B.C. Now, sometimes they're painted, sometimes they have hieroglyphs on the front of them, which tell you the name of the person and his status in life, things like that. I think it's beautifully carved. It's kind of restrained, and there's traces of pigment in the eyes and in the mouth. I'm not sure if that's a later addition. I don't think so. It's a wonderfully compact object. I like it very much indeed. I think you would be comfortable insuring this for about $20,000.


There are very, very stringent laws now about the importation of antiquities. And so if you bought something after 1970, it's a can of worms if you ever want to resell it. So if you're interested in buying antiquities or collecting them, it's very important to get a provenance that predates 1970.

Appraisal Details

Anthony Slayter-Ralph Fine Art
Santa Barbara, CA
Appraised value (2009)
$20,000 Insurance
Denver, CO (July 25, 2009)
Ancient Art

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