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Anubis, also known as Inpu (which means "decay"), is a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. The oldest known mention of Anubis is in the Old Kingdom pyramid texts, where he is associated with the burial of the king. Anubis is also a god in Tuareg Berber mythology.[1]

Anubis takes various titles in connection with his funerary role, such as He-Who-Is-Upon-His-Mountain, which underscores his importance as a protector of the deceased and their tombs, and the title He-Who-Is-In-The-Place-Of-Embalming, associating him with the process of mummification. Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumes different roles in various contexts, and no public procession in Egypt would be conducted without an Anubis to march at the head.

He who passeth through the place of purification within the Mesqet chamber is Anubis, who is hard by the coffer which containeth the inward parts of Osiris. He to whom saffron cakes have been brought in Tannt is Usir. [ A Fragment of The Book of the Dead]



There are a lot of different versions about his birth and conception. In early mythology, he is protrayed as a son of Ra. In the Coffin Texts from the First Intermediate Period (c. 2181–2055 BC), he is the son of Hesat or Bastet. Some traditions depicted him as son of Ra and Nephthys, others as the illegitimate son of Nephthys and Osiris, that was later adopted by Usir' wife, Aset, and others as son of Nephthys and Set.

In the version which he is the son of Nephthys and Usir, it is said that Nephthys tricked her brother, Usir, into fathering her child by using Aset appeareance. Nephthys told her husband-brother, Set, that the child was his but him soon found out. As Set hated Usir, he then planned to murder the child when he was born. Nephthys therefore, abandoned the child at birth hiding him in the marshes by the Nile River. The child was taken care by jackals and eventually found by Aset that raised Inpu as her own kid. When he became an adult, then repaid her by becoming her protector.

The version in which he is the son of Nephthys and Set is not that different. It is said that, after Nephthys got pregnant with Set's child, she tried to hide the pregnancy as she knew how violent Set could be. Fearing for the baby, Nephthys gave Inpu to Aset that eventually raised him.

The Assassination of Usir

Later, when Usir set out to conquer the world, Inpu accompanied him. Although, this plan had to be post poned as, in a party organized by Set, Usir was murdered by the host, Set, who tore his body into pieces. Inpu helped Aset and the other gods to find the pieces of Usir's body. There are discussions as to whether the last piece, the penis of Usir, has been found or not. Inpu then embalmed the body so well that it never decayed. This is said to be the first mummy. Inpu is said to have performed the first Egyptian burial rites and to have introduced the practice of embalming the dead.


The priests of Inpu, called the stm, wore jackals' masks during the mummification rituals. Inpu is one of the oldest divinities in Egyptian mythology, and its role changed as myths matured from the leading god of the underworld to judge of the dead after Usir assumed that role. As jmy-wt "He who is in the place of embalming", his role is very important. Not only he associated with mummification, but also he was responsible for the judgement because, after the mummification, the Egyptians believed that the heart was given to the god Anubis. He weighed it together with the Feather of Truth. If the heart was heavier than the feather, Ammit, the lion-god, ate the heart, but if it was light with kindness, Anubis would take the soul into a boat crossing the Nile to go to the god Usir, the god of death and the underworld, to the world of dead, to live the "life after death".


The association of Inpu with jackals or dogs is probably due to the fact that they wander around the cemeteries and sometimes dig into the graves. Inpu was painted black, because the color of embalmed bodies was dark. Although often identified as Sab, the jackal, and not as iwiw, the dog, there is still much confusion about which animal Inpu really was. Some Egyptologists refer to the "animal of Anubis" to indicate the unknown species it represented. The cities dedicated to Inpu were known by large numbers of mummies and even by whole cemeteries of dogs.


See also


External links

  • Anubis at Ancient History Encyclopedia
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