The Role of Anubis in the Egyptian Pantheon

In Egyptian mythology, Anubis played a significant and multifaceted role. His primary roles were associated with death, mummification, and the afterlife.


READ MORE: Jackal-headed Deities in Ancient Egypt

Here’s an explanation of Anubis’s key roles:

God of Embalming and Mummification

Anubis was closely associated with the process of mummification. He was believed to oversee and protect the intricate and sacred process of preserving the bodies of the deceased. Anubis’s role was to guide and safeguard the souls of the deceased through the journey of death and into the afterlife.

Guardian of the Dead

Anubis was regarded as the guardian and protector of the dead. It was his responsibility to watch over the tombs and burial sites, ensuring that the deceased were safe from harm and that their souls could make a successful transition to the afterlife.

Weigher of the Heart


This detail scene from the Papyrus of Hunefer (ca. 1375 B.C.) shows Hunefer’s heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result.

One of the most iconic aspects of Anubis’s role was his involvement in the “Weighing of the Heart” ceremony. In the Egyptian belief system, it was believed that, after death, the soul would undergo judgment in the Hall of Ma’at.

Anubis would weigh the heart of the deceased against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice. If the heart was found to be lighter than the feather, the soul would be deemed pure and allowed to enter the afterlife. If the heart was heavy with wrongdoing, it would be devoured by the monstrous creature Ammit, and the soul would face annihilation.

READ MORE: What is the Hall of Truth in Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion?

Guide to the Afterlife

Anubis was often depicted as leading the souls of the deceased through the various stages of the afterlife. He would help them navigate the perilous journey, including encounters with dangerous creatures and obstacles.


Anubis was considered a psychopomp, a deity who guided souls from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead. His role was essential in ensuring a smooth transition for the deceased to the afterlife.

READ MORE: 15 Famous Psychopomps From Around The World

Funerary Deity

Anubis featured prominently in funerary art, tomb inscriptions, and rituals related to death and burial. His images and symbols were commonly incorporated into tombs to invoke his protection and assistance for the deceased.

Associations with Other Deities

Anubis was often linked to other deities involved in the afterlife, such as Osiris, the god of the afterlife and resurrection, and Nephthys, who was sometimes considered his mother. He also had connections with Wepwawet, another jackal-headed deity associated with war and protection.

Egyptian gods Osiris and Anubis. Wall painting in the tomb of New Kingdom Pharaoh Horemheb (KV57).

READ MORE: How does Anubis’s role differ from Osiris’s in the Underworld?

Questions and Answers

Here are some frequently asked questions about Anubis in ancient Egyptian mythology:

Who is Anubis in Egyptian mythology?

Anubis is an ancient Egyptian god associated with mummification and the afterlife. He is often depicted with the head of a jackal or dog and is known as the god of the dead.

What is Anubis’s role in Egyptian mythology?

Anubis played a crucial role in the process of mummification. He was believed to protect the deceased and guide their souls through the afterlife. He also weighed the hearts of the deceased against the feather of Ma’at during the judgment of the dead.

Anubis and mummification

A painting of Anubis attending to a corpse during the mummification process

What is the significance of Anubis’s jackal or dog head?

Anubis is typically depicted with the head of a jackal or dog because these animals were often seen scavenging around cemeteries and tombs. The association with jackals likely stems from their connection to death and the afterlife.

What was the Weighing of the Heart ceremony?

The Weighing of the Heart ceremony was a crucial part of the Egyptian afterlife beliefs. It involved Anubis weighing the heart of the deceased against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the soul could enter the afterlife; if not, it would be devoured by the monstrous Ammit.

Was Anubis considered a benevolent or malevolent deity?

Anubis was generally considered a benevolent deity. He was seen as a protector of the dead and played a vital role in ensuring a safe journey to the afterlife. His role in mummification was also seen as essential in preserving the body for the afterlife.

What are some common symbols associated with Anubis?

Besides his jackal or dog head, Anubis is often depicted with various symbols, including the flail, a symbol of authority, and the ankh, a symbol of life. He is also sometimes shown with a scepter.

How did Anubis’s worship change over time in ancient Egypt?

Anubis remained an important deity throughout ancient Egyptian history, but his prominence in religious beliefs and practices varied. His role in the afterlife and mummification rituals remained constant, but the popularity of other gods and religious changes influenced the emphasis on Anubis in different eras.


Worship and Prayer to Anubis

Are there any famous temples or sites dedicated to Anubis?

While there are no major temples exclusively dedicated to Anubis, his depictions and references can be found in various temples and tombs throughout Egypt. He is often depicted on the walls of tombs, guiding the deceased into the afterlife.

Did Anubis have any family connections with other Egyptian gods?

Anubis was often considered the son of the goddess Nephthys and either Osiris or Seth, depending on the region and time period. He was also sometimes associated with Wepwawet, another jackal-headed god.

Is Anubis still a significant figure in modern culture or religion?

Anubis continues to be a popular and recognizable figure in modern popular culture, often depicted in movies, literature, and art. However, he is not actively worshipped in contemporary religious practices.


Egyptian God Anubis Family

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