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Solène Klein

Revisiting the treatment of the viscera: from organs to the Sons of Horus

Figures of the Four Sons of Horus found in the abdominal cavity of Nesenaset. Mud and wax. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 25.3.156a–d.

Figures of the Four Sons of Horus found in the abdominal cavity of Nesenaset. Mud and wax. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 25.3.156a–d.

Mødedato: Torsdag d. 18/2 2021 kl. 18.00
Lokale: KUA1 15A.0.13

Revisiting the treatment of the viscera: from organs to the Sons of Horus, v. Solène Klein, PhD student, Oriental Studies (Egyptology), University of Oxford

As part of the wider process of mummification, the removal and treatment of the viscera is traditionally regarded as a necessary step towards the preservation of the body.

This has been the dominant understanding for the last 150 years, despite being less supported by sources than we might imagine. In fact, it has not been the focus of detailed empirical research, being instead perpetuated as an overall explanatory framework—a framework that devalues the nuances and importance of viscera-related practices in the embalming ritual.

This paper offers a reassessment of existing conceptual and material perspectives and examines the role of viscera-related practices in transforming the human body into divine body and in protecting the newly created divine entity.

A number of new insights into evisceration and viscera-related practices are discussed. Firstly, that they are transformative and protective processes – where the internal organs are transformed into the Sons of Horus and where protection is enabled through their material representation.

Secondly, that there are no fundamental changes in practices, despite material differences observed in the canopic equipment, as the Sons of Hours remain a constant through their representation in burial context, across different sites.