Study Guide

Wepwawet Gossip

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For many years, mythologists have thought that both Wepwawet and Anubis were jackals. Why? Even though the Greeks always referred to Wepwawet as a wolf and even named his town Lycopolis ("wolf city"), they assumed there weren't any wolves in Africa in ancient times. But in 2011, some scientists did a DNA study of the so-called "Egyptian jackal" (canis aureus lupaster)—and found out that it is related to the gray wolf, after all. (Source.)

Upuaut (how Wepwawet is spelled in German) is the name of a robot that engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink sent up a tiny air shaft inside the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1993. With its tiny camera, Upuaut scouted the shaft until it stopped at a tiny stone door. Subsequent attempts, and even different and more sophisticated robots, haven't entirely solved the mystery of the surprise door, or the shaft itself—which doesn't exit the pyramid anyway. (Source.)

Wepwawet is actually not a name but a title, meaning "The Opener of the Ways" in ancient Egyptian. At least three different gods use this title, including Anubis, Osiris, and Wepwawet himself (whose "real name" might actually be Sed, but we're not entirely sure). The goddess Neith uses this title, too.

The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus confused Wepwawet with Makedon, the son of Lycaeon, king of Arcadia. In his histories, Makedon becomes the ancestor of the Macedonians, whose famous Ptolemaic Dynasty took over Egypt in the three centuries before Rome did. Maybe they thought they were entitled?

Many modern sources suggest that, while Anubis is a black jackal, since Wepwawet is a wolf, he should be depicted as gray in color. If you look at ancient paintings and drawings, there are some gray Wepwawets out there, but most of them are the same color as Anubis: dark black. So why are some of these Wepwawet images gray? Ancient painters used lampblack (that icky soot that ends up on things if you light a candle or a lamp in a closed space and the smoke gets trapped) to create black paint. Over time, it fades or falls off, leaving behind a gray shadow or smudge.

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