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Anubis, the jackal god, was the protector of the dead and custodian of "secret things" to the ancient Egyptians. Anubis was a dog-like god of the dead, of the necropolis, and of embalmers. He was a protective deity who conducted the ceremony of the judgement of the dead-the "Weighing of the Heart"-before Osiris and assembled deities. Entrances to tombs in the Valley of the Kings were stamped with a seal that contained an image of Anubis above a set of nine bound captives. This was meant to protect the tomb from thieves. In some areas he was considered the son of Osiris and Isis-Sekhmet. This Anubis is from the tomb of King Tutankhamen and was the finest portrayal of the guardian of the necropolis. He was found resting on a gilded wooden shrine at the entrance to the room Howard Carter called "The Treasury." The original was of wood, heavily painted with black gesso. His collar, inner ears, eyes and eyebrows were lined with gold and his toenails were made of silver. The statue was draped with a cloth that was thousands of years old, dating from the reign of Akhenaten about the time King Tut lived. Anubis, the "black god", was the first to embalm Osiris and presided over the embalmment ritual. He is named after jackals, wild dogs that roamed around the dead and were well known for feeding on cadavers and separating the flesh and organs from the bones, one aspect of embalmment. Also, jackals could be heard howling in the desert west of the Nile at sunset - at the time when burials usually took place. After the funeral, Anubis would take the dead by the hand and introduce him to the the sovereign judges where the soul of the deceased would be weighed. The statue was decorated with the symbols for djed and tat, signs of eternity and life, making Anubis "he who presides over the Secrets."



Book of the Dead, spell 151: Anubis Jackal on Shrine. KV 47, Dated New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, Siptah, Valley of the Kings, Thebes.

Theban Mapping Project

Kent Weeks