For a century, they have been on display in the Louvre museum in Paris, labelled as Canopic jars holding the embalmed innards of the great Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II. But the four pots, covered in hieroglyphs, are not what they seem.
An analysis by French chemists has revealed that the jars in fact contain ordinary cosmetics, produced at a much later date.
The blue jars arrived in the Louvre in 1905. They carry the name of Rameses II, and seemed to contain embalmed organs, including a trace of what appeared to be heart tissue. Yet Rameses’s actual mummy still has its heart — the one organ ancient Egyptians left inside mummies so it could be weighed in the afterlife by the god Thoth. "The jars look like the pots of unguents found in King Tut’s tomb, among others, not like other Canopic jars," says Jacques Connan of the University of Strasbourg, France.
With the Louvre’s permission, Connan’s team sampled traces of [continue]