Canopus [key], ancient city of N Egypt, 12 mi (19 km) E of Alexandria. Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus' ship, was said to have 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 eastern portion of the city was submerged and not rediscovered (along with Thonis-Heracleion) until 2000. The modern village of Abu Qir is near the ancient ruins.
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