8. Anubis “God of Death” is the god of funerary rites, protector of graves, and guide to the underworld, in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head. Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty (c. 3100 – c. 2890 BC), Anubis was also an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BC) he was replaced by Osiris in his role as lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife. He attended the weighing scale during the “Weighing of the Heart”, in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead. Anubis is one of the most frequently depicted and mentioned gods in the Egyptian pantheon, however, no relevant myth involved him. Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized regeneration, life, the soil of the Nile River, and the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with his brother Wepwawet, another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog’s head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur. Historians assume that the two figures were eventually combined.[5] Anubis’ female counterpart is Anput. His daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.

History In Egypt’s Early Dynastic period (c. 3100 – c. 2686 BC), Anubis was portrayed in full animal form, with a “jackal” head and body. A jackal god, probably Anubis, is depicted in stone inscriptions from the reigns of Hor-Aha, Djer, and other pharaohs of the First Dynasty. Since Predynastic Egypt, when the dead were buried in shallow graves, jackals had been strongly associated with cemeteries because they were scavengers which uncovered human bodies and ate their flesh. In the spirit of “fighting like with like,” a jackal was chosen to protect the dead, because “a common problem (and cause of concern) must have been the digging up of bodies, shortly after burial, by jackals and other wild dogs which lived on the margins of the cultivation.” In the Old Kingdom, Anubis was the most important god of the dead. He was replaced in that role by Osiris during the Middle Kingdom (2000–1700 BC).[18] In the Roman era, which started in 30 BC, tomb paintings depict him holding the hand of deceased persons to guide them to Osiris.

Roles Anubis was associated with mummification. He was also called ḫnty zḥ-nṯr “He who presides over the god’s booth”, in which “booth” could refer either to the place where embalming was carried out or the pharaoh’s burial chamber. In the Osiris myth, Anubis helped Isis to embalm Osiris.[18] Indeed, when the Osiris myth emerged, it was said that after Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris’s organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers; during the rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a wolf-mask-wearing priest supporting the upright mummy.

Protector of tombs

The Opening of the Mouth ceremony being performed on a mummy before the tomb. Anubis attending the mummy of the deceased. Extract from the Papyrus of Hunefer, a 19th-Dynasty Book of the Dead (c. 1300 BC) 
Anubis was a protector of graves and cemeteries. Several epithets attached to his name in Egyptian texts and inscriptions referred to that role. Khenty-Amentiu, which means “foremost of the westerners” and was also the name of a different canine funerary god, alluded to his protecting function because the dead were usually buried on the west bank of the Nile. He took other names in connection with his funerary role, such as tpy-ḏw.f (Tepy-djuef) “He who is upon his mountain” (i.e., keeping guard over tombs from above) and nb-t3-ḏsr (Neb-ta-djeser) “Lord of the sacred land”, which designates him as a god of the desert necropolis.