February 10, 2015
In the first exhibition of its kind, U-M's Kelsey Museum of Archaeology will bring together artifacts from 1920s and '30s excavations in Egypt, as well as selections from the largest papyrology collection in North America, housed at the U-M Library.
"Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt," running now through May 3, explores the mysterious ancient Egyptian jackal-headed gods associated with death and the afterlife.
An amulet of the Egyptian god Anubis. (Photograph by Randall McCombs)
"These gods are immediately identifiable symbols of ancient Egypt, but their specific identities and roles are often unclear," said Terry Wilfong, professor of Egyptology and exhibition curator.
"The artifacts that I selected for the exhibition illustrate the jackal gods as the ancients saw them — as very protective figures. I also incorporated modern imagery that depicts them in a very different way."
The three most important jackal gods at the heart of the exhibition include:
• Anubis, best known of the Egyptian jackal gods, embalmer and guide to the dead.
• Wepwawet, opener of the ways to the afterlife, frequently working with Anubis.
• Duamutef, son of Horus, protector of the canopic jar containing the stomach and protector of the East.
The show will trace the origins of these gods, from ideas of how the Egyptians associated jackals and wild dogs with funerary deities to the Egyptians' own myths about them.
Egyptian jackal gods persisted into the Roman period, as seen in artifacts from U-M excavations at the village of Karanis, home to a cult of Anubis, and Terenouthis, a cemetery where some Roman-period inhabitants were named after Anubis and had representations of the god on their tombstones.
The exhibition will feature more than 40 artifacts, many never before displayed to the public, as well as an assemblage of modern toys, games, album art and other manifestations of Egyptian jackal gods in pop culture today.
A painted wooden panel from a coffin showing two jackals representing the Egyptian gods Anubis and Wepwawet. (Photo by Randal Stegmeyer)