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Who is Anubis?
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  8/24/07
By: Yona Williams

As one of the most recognizable of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, Anubis possesses distinctive features and is recognized as the God of Embalming. In this article, you will learn a little more about his appearance and duties.


Throughout history, Anubis was known by many different names, including Anpu, Inpu, Ienpw, and Imeut (Lord-of-the-Place-of-Embalming). His connections to Egyptian culture and belief were mummification, as he guided the dead on their path through the Underworld. While he appeared as a man, he had the head of a jackal-like creature. Much different from a real jackal, Anubis' head was black, which stood for his station as a god of the deceased. Rarely is the god seen as a full human, but when he is placed within the Temple of Abydos of Rameses II, this is the form he is presented as. At the tomb of Tutankhamun, a striking statue of Anubis as a full jackal was found.


As one of the most ancient of Egyptian gods, Anubis was the original god of the dead before Osiris assumed the position. After this transition, Anubis became one of the many sons of his successor and gained the responsibilities as conductor of souls of the Underworld. His totem is of the jackel, which is thought to represent the animals (jackals) that hunted by the edges of the desert, close to the final resting places of Egyptians and other cemeteries throughout the country.


Inhabitants would send off their prayers to Anubis, which have been found carved about most of the ancient tombs in Egypt. Researchers have learned that Anubis was responsible for numerous duties. Anubis would watch over the mummification process to make sure that everything was completed, as it should. He then led the souls through the Underworld and along the way would test their knowledge about the gods and their faith. He then places the hearts of the deceased on what was known as the Scales of Justice, which was part of the Judging of the Heart process. If the souls were deemed wicked, Anubis would feed their souls to Ammit.


There are many different stories associated with Anubis. His parentage is also of question, as some tales state he is the son of Ra and Nephthys – sometimes Set and Nephthys – which is thought a result of sharing the same totem animal with Set. This fact alone attests to how ancient Anubis is within history. In regards to the process of mummification, Anubis receives help from his daughter named Kabechet.


Throughout Egypt, Anubis is widely worshipped with his cult center situated in Cynopolis. He is also seen within other origins. For example, Anubis appears as Hermanubis, who is a combination of the Greek god, Hermes and Anubis. This entity makes appearances within the alchemical and hermetical literature hailing from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 



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