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Ancient Egyptian: Anpu

Anubis from Tutankhamun's KV62 tomb.

Period of
PredynasticRoman Period
Cult center Lycopolis, Cynopolis Superior
Titles "First of the Westerners"
"Lord of the Sacred Land"
"He Who is Upon his Sacred
"Ruler of the Nine Bows"
"The Dog who Swallows
"Master of Secrets"
"He Who is in the Place of
"Foremost of the Divine
Symbol(s) Jackal, Imiut fetish, flail
Association Mummification, embalmers,
Appearance Therianthrope, jackal
Father Set, Osiris
Mother Nephthys
Spouse(s) Anput
Issue Kebehwet

Anubis is ancient Egyptian god of the dead and mummification. In the Old Kingdom, prayers on various stelae and mastaba tombs were addressed directly to him. In time, he was overshadowed by the god Osiris and became associated with him.[1]

Anubis's heritage is unsure

Anubis’s heritage is one of debate among historians. Some scholars suggest that Anubis is the son of Nephthys and Set. Another legend states that Anubis was spawned from Nephthys and Osiris. Both legends have equal understandings due to the connections that Anubis has through Nephthys and the Underworld.

Lord of the dead

Anubis standing


Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was god of the underworld, and his name is frequently thought to have reflected this, meaning something like putrefaction. He was said to have a wife, Anput (who was really just his female aspect, her name being his with an additional feminine suffix: the t), who was depicted exactly the same, though feminine. He is also both listed to have taken to wife the feminine form of Neheb Kau, Nehebka, and Kebauet. Kebauet, the Goddess of cold water, is also listed as his daughter in some places. His father was originally said to be Ra, as he was the creator god, and thus his mother was said to be Hesat, Ra's wife, who later was identified as Hathor (to whom her identity was remarkably similar). As the god of death, Anubis was identified as the father of Kebehwet, the goddess of the purification of bodily organs due to be placed in Canopic Jars during Mummification. Also set and the goddess of water were his parents.


Anubis statuette 2

Statuette of Anubis

Following the merging of the Ennead and Ogdoad belief systems, as a result of the identification of Atum with Ra, and their compatibility, Anubis became considered a lesser god in the underworld, giving way to the more popular Osiris. Indeed, when the Legend of Osiris and Isis emerged, it was said that when Osiris had died, Osiris's organs were given to Anubis as a gift.

Since he had been more associated with beliefs about the weighing of the heart than had Osiris, Anubis retained this aspect, and became considered more the gatekeeper and Ruler of the underworld, the Guardian of the veil (of death). As such, he was said to protect souls as they journeyed there, and thus be the patron of lost souls (and consequently orphans). Rather than god of death, he had become god of dying, and consequently funeral arrangements. It was as the god of dying that his identity merged with that of Wepwawet, a similar jackal-headed god, associated with funerary practice, who had been worshiped in Upper Egypt, whereas Anubis' cult had centered in Lower Egypt.

As one of the most important funerary rites in Egypt involved the process of embalming, so it was that Anubis became the god of embalming, in the process gaining titles such as He who belongs to the mummy wrappings, and He who is before the divine [embalming] booth. High priests often wore the Anubis mask to perform the ceremonial deeds of embalming. It also became said, frequently in the Book of the Dead, that it had been Anubis who embalmed the dead body of Osiris, with the assistance of the other main funerary deities involved - Nephthys, and Isis. Having become god of embalming, Anubis became strongly associated with the (currently) mysterious and ancient Imiut Fetish, present during funerary rites, and Bast, who by this time was goddess of ointment, initially became thought of as his mother.

However, as lesser of the two gods of the underworld, he gradually became considered the son of Osiris, but Osiris' wife, Isis, was not considered his mother, since she too inappropriately was associated with life. Instead, his mother became considered to be Nephthys, who had become strongly associated with funerary practice, indeed had in some ways become the personification of mourning, and was said to supply bandages to the deceased. Subsequently, this apparent infidelity of Osiris was explained in myth, in which it was said that a sexually frustrated Nephthys had disguised herself as Isis in order to appeal to her husband, Set, but he did not notice her as he was infertile (some modern versions depict Set as a homosexual, but these have little bearing on the original myth), whereas Isis' husband Osiris did, mistaking her for his wife, which resulted in Anubis' birth. Other versions of the myth depict Set as the father, and it remains unclear as to weather Set was truly infurtile or not.


Edgycational- How Egyptian Mummies were Made! Halloween Special

In later times, during the Ptolemaic period, as their functions were similar, Anubis was identified as the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The centre of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-ka/ Cynopolis, a place whose Greek name simply means city of dogs. In Book xi of The Golden Ass by Apuleius, we find evidence that the worship of this god was maintained in Rome at least up to the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis also appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Anubis in modern culture

  • Anubis is a recurring battle chip in the MegaMan Battle Network series. It creates a black Jackal statue that poisons the enemy until destroyed.
  • Anubis is the title of a song by Banzai, appearing in the In The Groove series of dancing video games.
  • Anubis appears as the scheming antagonist in Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness.
  • Anubis appears in the Dungeons & Dragons supplement Deities and Demigods. Though divorced from his city of worship, it is maintained that he is the son of Osiris and Nepthys. Anubis notably disdains the creation of undead, with the exception of mummy temple guardians.
  • Anubis appears in the TV show Stargate SG-1 as a highly powerful and hostile "Half-Ascended" Goa'uld. He is deemed the most evil of them all, committing such atrocities that even the Goa’uld could not tolerate.
  • Anubis is Monster in My Pocket #75.
  • In the MMORPG RuneScape the God Icthlarin is similar to Anubis
  • Anubis is mentioned several times within the Mummy films. In The Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King swore an oath to Anubis, who in turn spared his life. Thereafter, the Scorpion King and an army of Anubis-like soldiers decimated most of the populace of Thebes.
  • Anubis appears as 'Mister Jacquel', who co-owns a funeral parlor in Cairo, Illinois with Thoth (as 'Mister Ibis') in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods.
  • Anubis is the subject of the song Jackal-Head, on Telemetry of a Fallen Angel, by The Crüxshadows
  • Anubis: Jackal God Of Death is the name of a 1997 album by Ganesha (band).
  • Anubis appears in the episode "Grief" of the animated TV series Gargoyles.
  • Anubis is popularized by furry culture, and has appeared in many artworks, comics and stories.
  • Anubis is worshipped by certain groups of Neopagans
  • Anubis standing
    Anubis is the name of a Greek publishing house (
  • "Anubis the Jackal" is the name of a heavy rock song by White Skull.
  • Anubis is a primary character in Lars von Trier's made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King's series "Kingdom Hospital".
  • The Pokémon named Lucario is visually based on the image of Anubis.
  • The fictional ship S.S. Anubis appears in Jet Force Gemini.
  • Anubismon is a Digimon in the Digimon collectible card game based on Anubis.
  • Anubis is the main villain in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie. In that movie he was depicted as an evil entity wanting to take over the world, and he had the Pyramid of Light, the most powerful of the Millennium Items. He is also depicted on various cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game additionaly, the eye design prevalent on the Millenium Items is reffered to as the "Eye of Anubis" by Upper Deck.
  • Anubis appears in several computer games such as War Gods, Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon and Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko.
  • Anubis is the Orbital Frame piloted by the main villain in Konamis Zone of the Enders series.
  • Anubis is the name of a space ship that appears in the Microsoft PC game Freelancer. The Anubis is a very heavy fighter type available late in the game from the Order. It is often remarked to be the cheapest very heavy fighter in the game at 1,100 credits.
  • Anubis is the main character of Unreal Championship 2, and is a high-ranking member of the Desert Legion. He enters the Liandri-hosted Ascension Rites to stop Selket's plan.
  • Anubis, together with Bastet, was the main villain of the "Nikopol trilogy" of graphic novels by cartoonist Enki Bilal.
  • A Petpet on the virtual pet website Neopets is called the Anubis, and resembles a small version of the god.
  • Commander Anubis "Doggie" Cruger
  • A monster in the Nintendo 64 game Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is called Anubis. The creature is in an Egypt-esque level and resembles the Egyptian version of Anubis.
  • In Age Of Mythology, the player can worship the 'lesser' God Anubis to unlock the Anubite, a creature able to jump into battle, and several technologys and a god power like all gods. Anubis's god power is the Plague of serpents, wich will summon a group of snakes that will defend a specific place. The snakes are from the player who worships Anubis, but they will stand in one place.
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, Anubisath constructs, living statues resembling Anubis, wander around in the Ossirian room of the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj.

External links


  1. Wilkinson, R. H. (2003). The complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.