When it comes to ancient Egyptian beliefs of the afterlife, one of the first things that pops into most people’s heads is their technique of preserving bodies through mummification. However, there was reasoning behind the way they dealt with their deceased. The gods mentioned in this article also played an important role in beliefs concerning the afterlife.
With the head of a jackal, Anubis was the ancient Egyptian god most linked to mummification and the afterlife. The god is mentioned as far back as the Old Kingdom pyramid texts. He plays an important role regarding the burial of the Pharaoh. During early times, Anubis was known as the most important god of the Dead. However, during the Middle Kingdom, Osiris replaced him as the most significant.
From the process of mummification and the embalming of the deceased to serving as protector of the dead and their tombs, Anubis was a powerful god. Depending on the circumstances, the god could assume a variety of roles.
Art Depictions of Anubis
In art, Anubis often appeared as a half human, half jackal. At the time, the jackal was closely associated with cemeteries in ancient Egyptian times. The scavengering behavior of the jackal was seen as a threat, as the creature could uncover bodies of the deceased to eat their flesh.
Depictions show Anubis as attending to the mummies and sitting on top of a tomb , serving as a protector. During the process of embalming, the head attendant would actually wear an Anubis costume while preparing the dead.
In the Book of the Dead, Anubis is shown as measuring the heart of the deceased, which was a method to determine if the dead was worthy enough to enter the underworld.
The man with a head of an ibis or baboon was called Thoth and he was an important deity in ancient Egyptian circles because he was associated with the afterlife. He held many different roles, including mediator between the forces of good and evil. It was Thoth that made sure that no side had a significant victory over the other.
Thoth was also known as the scribe of the gods and is often credited with inventing writing and the alphabet of the ancient Egyptians , hieroglyphs. When it came to calculating the placement of the stars, heavens, and Earth , this accomplishment is attributed to Thoth. He also had the power to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies.
When it came to power, Thoth was nearly unmatched in the Underworld. His strength and influence was placed in the same category as Ra and Osiris. Because of this, the Egyptians believed that without his assistance, the gods would not exist.
As years passed, ancient Egyptians viewed Thoth has being strongly linked the arts of magic, the development of science, mediator between gods in dispute, as well as the one who passed judgment on the dead.