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THE UNDERGROUND LEVEL OF THE DUCAL COURTYARD:
EGYPTIAN SECTION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM


ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FUNERARY CULT

Amulets were vital to the ancient Egyptian population, as they were both worn by the Egyptians around their neck to protect the owner from evil and put into the coffin to protect the dead person in an afterlife. The Egyptian section of the archaeological museum is also about funerary cult. It includes a rich collection of amulets made of stone and fa´ence (a special quartz powder, which was moulded and baked), among which the scarab, which was thought to represent the sun-god and to protect life, Isis knot, which was thought to protect pregnant women from miscarriages and premature childbirths, the papyrus symbolizing luxuriance, the Eye of Horus, which was a symbol of protection, the backbone of Osiris symbolizing stability for the Land.
   
According to the ancient Egyptian funerary rituals, it was of primary importance that life continued smoothly also in the underworld. That's why they used to place statuettes named Ushabti (literally means "Answerers") in tombs. These statuettes were modelled in the likeness of the deceased and left in the tomb by the body. In an afterlife, the Ushabti would help the dead person by taking his place in performing tasks he was called upon. The museum boasts a rich collection of ushabti of various sizes and made of different materials (e.g. wood, stone, fa´ence). The foremost among these exhibits are definitely two handsome statuettes from the New Kingdom (1350 through 1250 BC), one depicting priest Imen-mes, the other Amenemope, also known as 'Overseer of the Silver Lands'.
   
On display in the Egyptian section are also canopic jars made of limestone, sandstone, painted terracotta and alabaster. The canopic jars were four urns intended to hold the internal organs (liver, lungs, stomach and intestines of the deceased), which had to be removed during the embalming process. Used since the 20th century BC, during the Middle Kingdom, these funerary urns had human and animal shaped covers, human shaped covers depicting the sons of the god Horus. During the new Kingdom (1550 through 1075 BC), the cover was modelled depending on which organ the canopic jar was intended to hold. In particular, a funerary urn with a human shaped cover was supposed to hold the liver of the dead person, one with a baboon shaped cover the lungs, one with a jackal shaped cover the stomach and one with a hawk shaped cover the intestines.
   

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Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN