Of all the gods and goddesses in Egyptian lore, Anubis is perhaps one of the most recognizable. He had a pivotal role in helping mortal souls transfer to the land of the dead – and as such, was revered for being extremely powerful and influential. But how much do you really know about the god of the Underworld? Here are some fun facts about Anubis.
1. People started worshiping Anubis in around 6,000 BC.
Ancient Egyptians started to worship and record stories of Anubis some 8,000 years ago, believing him to initially stand guard over graves and to provide support during burials. However, his role expanded over the years, as his role eventually changed to that of a guide for souls passing from our world into the afterlife.
2. Anubis had a jackal’s head, and the reason’s symbolic.
Anubis is easily one of the most recognizable Egyptian gods thanks to his distinctive appearance – he had the body of a man and the head of a jackal. Jackals reportedly feasted on dead bodies and were long spotted around grave sites – which leant toward their association with the god of the Underworld quite nicely!
3. Anubis had lots of different roles.
It’s said Anubis played more than one part in the passing over between life and death. In fact, he was said to be the god of mummification, the overall ruler of the Underworld, a protector of cemeteries, and even the guardian of the Scales of Justice. That’s a lot of responsibility for one god!
4. He used a set of scales to decide people’s fate.
While there’s long been a popular depiction of St. Peter standing at heaven’s “pearly gates,” in the Egyptian Underworld, Anubis decided who ascended and who descended with a set of scales. He would weigh the heart of dead souls against a feather, representing truth. If the heart weighed more than a feather, a soul would be eaten by Ammit, the devourer of the dead. If the heart weighed true in balance toward the feather, Anubis would allow safe passage to heaven.
5. Anubis and his daughter worked together as a mummifying team.
Stories tell us that Anubis’ daughter, Kebechet, worked with him in the family business – she supported him in the mummification of the dead as an assistant of sorts!
6. Anubis is depicted as holding a few select symbols.
Traditionally, you’ll see Anubis depicted holding a couple of different items associated with his role as god of the Underworld. He typically carries a scepter, known as a was, with a canine head atop it to demonstrate power and authority. He also holds an Egyptian ankh, also known as the key of life – which symbolizes Anubis guiding people to the afterlife.
7. Anubis had an interesting nickname.
Anubis’ intriguing and pivotal role in the hierarchy of gods meant he carried a few different nicknames and titles. Among the most interesting is Opener of the Way – specifically, this refers to Anubis opening peoples’ mouths so they can speak when they transfer over to the afterlife.
8. There’s no specific temple dedicated to Anubis.
Unlike most other Egyptian gods and deities, there is no one temple solely dedicated to Anubis. Instead, worshippers typically honored him alongside associated gods and deities such as Osiris. That doesn’t make Anubis any less important, of course!
9. However, he had his own cult.
Anubis is another rarity in Egyptian mythology in that he doesn’t appear very often in specific myths – however, he was one of the most popular gods to worship, with many priests making and wearing masks inspired by the deity. He would go on to be worshiped beyond Egypt, too, as in Greece his legend combined with that of Hermes to form Hermanubis.
FAQs about Anubis
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