Who was Anubis? – Ancient Egyptian god

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Anubis in the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Luxor (New Kingdom)

The Egyptian god Anubis in the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Luxor (New Kingdom)

Jackal head and black color

Anubis was the way ancient Greek historians like Herodotus wrote the Egyptian word Inpu. Inpu, or Anubis, was an Egyptian god, the son of Ra. He was the god of the dead and the underworld in Old Kingdom Egypt.

Old Kingdom Egypt
Egyptian religion
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Because jackals (a kind of wild dog) went to cemeteries, attracted by the smell of dead people’s bodies, Anubis is often shown with the head of a jackal, or entirely in the form of a jackal. His head is black because black was the color of death and of the black dirt in the Nile valley, the symbol of rebirth.

The history of dogs
What was the Nile valley like?

Anubis weighing the souls of the dead

Anubis weighing the souls of the dead

Weighing the soul

Anubis was important throughout the process of getting a dead person ready to be buried. When the embalmers were making the dead body into a mummy, the head embalmer wore an Anubis costume.

Egyptian mummies
Weighing the heart

Then people also thought of Anubis as the god who weighed your heart to see if you were good or bad after you died.

Anubis as the son of Osiris

By the time of the Middle Kingdom, people had stopped thinking of Anubis as the main god of the dead.

What was the Middle Kingdom?
Who was Osiris?

Instead, they put Osiris in that position. People gradually began to think of Anubis as the son of Osiris, and Osiris’ assistant in dealing with the dead. Or, sometimes they thought of him as the son of Osiris’ brother Set.

Learn by doing: Egyptian afterlife project
More about ancient Egyptian gods

Bibliography and further reading about the Egyptian god Anubis:

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard Fisher (1999). For younger kids.

The Egypt Game (Yearling Newbery), by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (reprinted 1985). A great kids’ story about kids who pretend to be Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, by John Baines, David Silverman, and Leonard Lesko (1991). Pretty hard going, but it will tell you everything you need to know about Egyptian religion.

More about the Egyptian gods
More about ancient Egypt
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By |2018-10-28T11:45:22+00:00June 18th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Religion|20 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Who was Anubis? – Ancient Egyptian god. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 18, 2017. Web. January 24, 2019.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. Carson October 28, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply

    I thought Anubis was a child of set or Seth. I know about three mythology,Egypt, Greek and Norse. I read about all of them Rick riordan. I’m only ten. I now want to go to Greece and Egypt. Thank you for making this page it is very helpful.

    • Karen Carr October 28, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Well, Carson, you’re not wrong: in other Egyptian stories, Anubis is sometimes the son of Set. Remember these aren’t real people; they’re more like ideas. So you might think of courage as the child of ambition, in one sense, and then another day you might think of courage as the child of love, or anger. It depends on the situation and what you choose to emphasize.

      I hope you will get to go to Greece and Egypt soon! A lot of colleges have study abroad programs in those places.

  2. jeff May 8, 2018 at 10:28 am - Reply


    • Karen Carr May 8, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Hi Jeff! Thanks for using Quatr.us Study Guides!

  3. jtp April 17, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I am in 1st grade

  4. Kelly April 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    What traits does Anubis have I need three

    • Karen Carr April 10, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      I’m not really sure what your teacher means by “traits”? Three facts about Anubis? I am pretty sure there are more than three facts about Anubis in this article.

  5. Lily March 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    This really helped with my homework!

    • Karen Carr March 20, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      Happy to hear it, Lily!

  6. jewl March 15, 2018 at 2:57 am - Reply

    it really help with my assessment, so thanks a lot

    • Karen Carr March 15, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Happy to hear it!

  7. nightmare March 9, 2018 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Thx for the information

    • Karen Carr March 10, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      You’re welcome! Thanks for visiting!

  8. yhi February 21, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply


    • Karen Carr February 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Kylee February 7, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the great info! Really help!

    • Karen Carr February 7, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks, Kylee! I’m glad we could help!

  10. Megan January 23, 2018 at 8:51 am - Reply

    I loved this website!

    • Karen Carr January 23, 2018 at 9:54 am

      So happy to hear it! Thanks for commenting.

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