Canopus (kənōˈpəs) [key], ancient city of N Egypt, 12 mi (19 km) E of Alexandria. Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus' ship, died there. In Hellenistic times Canopus was known as a pleasure city for the rich. Vases capped with the figure of a human head, called Canopic vases, were used to hold the viscera of embalmed bodies. The Decree of Canopus, issued there in 238 B.C. and found at Tanis, has been of value in studying the ancient Egyptian language. The modern village of Abu Qir is near the ancient ruins.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Egypt