Skip to main content

20 Interesting Facts About Anubis The Egyptian God

How much do you know about this weird and wonderful ancient Egyptian god? Find out with this awesome facts sheet - we've got 20 facts all about the jackal-headed god Anubis!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:ย  January 7th 2023

These 20 fun facts all about Anubis are sure to wow you! Find out all about this ancient Egyptian god and who he was, what he represented, and why he always carried a feather around! And if you liked this, check out more ancient Egyptian stuff here! Or how about some cool Titanic facts? You might be up for these weird history facts! And for more ancient Egypt, check out these cool mummy facts!

1. Anubis is an ancient Egyptian god

The Ancient Egyptians believed in many different gods, a bit like the ancient Greeks or Romans. Like those other cultures, the Egyptian Gods had a hierarchy and a head god, Ra, who was also the sun god, although sometimes this changed round, and gods like Isis were in charge. Either way, there was a whole bunch of law, culture and superstition surrounding these gods.

2. Anubis was the god of the dead

Anubis was the god of the dead, although technically he was the god of the dead, the underworld, mummification, embalming, tombs and graveyards - phew! His god was to usher souls into the afterlife.

3. He wasn't originally called Anubis

Anubis is actually the ancient Greek word for this god. The Greeks arrived in Egyptian around the 7th century BC, and some of the most famous Egyptians, like Cleopatra, were actually of Greek origin. Anubis was originally called 'Anpu' or 'Inpu'.

4. He's a bit weird looking

The Ancient Egyptians were really into making their gods half-human, half animal, like Ra, who had the head of a bird, and Sobek, who had the head of a crocodile. Anubis had the head of a jackal, which is a type of animal native to Egypt, a bit like a dog. Let's face it, it would be pretty intimidating to wake up in the afterlife and see that looming over you! Some people think a jackal was chosen as a way to ward off real jackals, who would sometimes cause all sorts of bother.

5. He had a big family

As well as being related to all the gods in some way, Anubis also had a large family of his own, including a wife, Anput (sometimes depicted as a jackal or a woman) and a brother, Wepwawet, who was god of war, and often depicted with the head of a wolf. And his daughter Kebechet, who is sometimes a dog, but sometimes a snake! Must make Christmas weird!

6. There's a crossover Anubis god

Once the Greeks arrived, they started mixing up their Gods and the Egyptian gods, which is where Hermanubis comes from - a composite of the Greek messenger god Hermes and Anubis. What did Hermanubis do? Like his origin gods, he accompanied souls to the dead.

7. He liked to weigh your heart

Yup, this was his most important job! Once you got to the underworld, it was Anubis' job to weigh your heart (yes, a bit weird). He would place it on a scale opposite a feather called the 'feather of truth' and if your heart was lighter, you got to go to the underworld, but if it was heavier, a demon would eat it and that would be the end of you! Pretty scary, let's face it.

8. There are a few myths about Anubis

In the myths and stories about the ancient Egyptian gods, Anubis appears a few times. In the myth of Osiris, he is the one who restores Osiris to life after he is murdered by his brother Set (Not very nice of him). Anubis is mostly found at the end of myths, meeting those who have died.

9. He appears in lots of art and images

You've definitely seen the figure of Anubis in lots of wall art and statues from Ancient Egypt - he's pretty hard to miss! He was a popular choice for statues and paintings, but also as a charm people might wear around their neck, or as figurines in their houses. He was everywhere!

10. He had lots of followers

We don't mean on social media, although it was a bit like that... followers of ancient gods would be referred to as a 'cult', and the Cult of Anubis was basically a religion that worshipped Anubis more than the other gods. They would perform ceremonies and rituals to worship Anubis, and he was especially important in funeral rites.

11. He could curse you

Don't get on his wrong side, because Anubis had the power to curse you! He'd be especially mad with you if you broke into a tomb and stole its contents. These curses would be generally horrible, so don't annoy Anubis!

12. He guarded Tutankhamun

One of the most famous depictions of Anubis was in the tomb of the famous boy king, Tutankhamun, whose burial place was discovered in 1922. An Anubis shrine was found in the tomb, probably to ward off potential grave robbers, and the Anubis statue can now be found in the Cairo Egyptian museum.

13. His colour was very significant

Anubis's jackal head was usually black, and he was associated with the colour black for many reasons; firstly, it symbolised death, but it also symbolised regeneration and the soil of the Nile, which was black, and which is where bodies were laid to rest.

14. He was an ally of Osiris

The gods, like most gods in most stories, were usually fighting with each other over something or another, and they liked to take sides. Anubis was an ally of Osiris, and sometimes depicted as his son or brother. He usually helped Osiris out in stories where he was in trouble, and was the one who brought him back to life.

15. He is depicted in the Book of the Dead

The book of the dead isn't actually one book, but the general name for scrolls that contained spells and rituals that would help the dead pass into the afterlife. Anubis and his heart-weighing ritual usually turned up in them, as it was one of the most important rituals in the afterlife. One of the most famous Books of the Dead is at the British Museum in London, after it was discovered in the 19th century.

16. You've probably spotted him in several shows and video games

Video game Assassin's Creed Origins has a segment where you must face Anubis, and he also appears in the film The Mummy Returns. In both of these he's depicted as quite a creepy figure, although the Egyptians didn't really think of him like that. You might also see the 'eye of Anubis' as a symbol or tattoo.

17. He's one of the oldest gods

The Egyptians had lots and lots of different deities - in fact, over 1,300! Lots of these gods fell in and out of fashion, but Anubis remained popular throughout time, and was also one of the oldest gods, originating between about 6000 and 3000 BCE - that's about 8,000 years ago!

18. He's normally found around tombs

If you do see an image of Anubis, chances are it's on a tomb or in a cemetery. The Ancient Egyptians liked to place him there to ward off or curse tomb raiders, as with the tomb of Tutankhamun. In fact, there is a legend that the people who found his tomb were 'cursed' (maybe by Anubis!).

19. Getting through the afterlife to Anubis was stressful

On the way to meet Anubis and get your heart weighed, you had to face a lots of scary things and tricky tasks - a bit like being a character in a video game. You might have to face demons, other gods, and even scary animals like crocodiles and wolves. You would have to answer questions and riddles (also a bit like a video game!) and if you got them wrong, these demons and gods could attack you! Sounds very stressful, we'd much rather play Sonic!

20. He's still popular today

You've probably seen a picture of Anubis, because he's still popular in art and culture today, although he's taken on a rather sinister reputation. The ancient Egyptians did not regard him as particularly evil or spooky, but because he's associated with death, today he's often portrayed as a scary figure.