Our new logo derives from a symbolic motif found on the walls of
many Egyptian tombs, including some in the Royal Valley (click links
to see examples at the Theban Mapping Project website from the
tombs of Tausert and Setknakht and Siptah.) It depicts the jackal-headed Anubis, the deity who presided over embalming, in his half-human form. He is in the process of preparing a mummy, and scholars believe that the priests who officiated at mummification ceremonies on the west bank of the Nile wore masks representing this jackal-headed god. The western desert was the domain of the jackal, whose eerie cry still echoes through the Valley of the Kings.
The ancient Egyptian association of jackals with death and embalming may be based on empirical observation. Jackals are primarily scavengers, and would have found Pre-dynastic burials with their unembalmed bodies easy to dig up. Some of these bodies would have become naturally preserved due to the desiccating action of the hot, dry sand in which they were placed, leading Pre-dynastic observers of the jackals' actions to conclude that jackals were magically responsible for the preservation of such corpses. For more data on the beginnings of mummification, see A. J. Spencer, Death in Ancient Egypt (Penguin Books, 1982), 29ff.
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