In the New Kingdom her association with funerary rites is even greater. She stands, along with Isis, guarding the funeral bier of the pharaoh. In the New Kingdom the mummy wrappings were considered the "gifts of Neith."
Small, silver statue of Onuris with Lance
Unfortunately, few gods that we may name from later Egyptian times can be traced back into prehistory. For example, while the standards of the prehistoric Egyptians document the existence of hawk cults, they do not really provide any evidence that they depicted Horus, or other known hawk deities. Nor can the opponent of Horus, Seth, be made out with certainty though there were dog-like animals represented. Also, the cow goddess found on the Narmer palette and about three centuries earlier on a palette from Girza, is iconographically more similar to Bat, rather than to the better known Hathor. However, stars added to the image show that she was already a sky goddess, so alongside animal deities, it should be clear now that the Ancient Egyptians were also worshiping inanimate objects, or rather the manifestation of gods through them.
How the predynastic Egyptians viewed the relationship between animals and human beings can perhaps best be seen in the "Battlefield" palette, pieces of which are in both the Oxford and London. The retro of this composition depicts a battlefield crowed with contorted bodies of defeated enemies, while others have been captured and bound. The subjugated enemies, who are naked and without weapons, appear utterly defenseless. The victors are represented as animal powers, consisting of a lion, birds of prey and standards surmounted by birds. However, on other contemporary palettes of the time and in predynastic rock drawings, there are sometimes human hunters.
Yet it seems certain that men of this period felt themselves defenseless without an animal disguise. Mankind had not yet become so dominate, and animals still appear to be the most powerful and efficacious beings. This may explain why, in late predynastic times, the powers that determine the course of events were mostly conceived in animal form.
Then, at the beginning of the historical period, the human view changes drastically regarding the superiority of animals. The earliest documented kings of Egypt retain animal names such as Scorpion, Catfish, Kite (?), Cobra and "Wing-spreader" (probably a bird of prey), but towards the end of the 1st Dynasty, this type of name disappears for good. Apparently, mankind was no longer feeling subjected to incomprehensible powers and so the powers that were worshiped as deities came more and more to show a human face as their original animal or inanimate form changed into a human one.
However, one must not discount the emergence of monarchy and the resultant origin of the Egyptian state, which transformed ancient religion by providing a new focus which unified its different goals and needs. In fact, at this point it might be said that the infancy of Egyptian deities had ended, and there is almost no doubt that the state greatly effected the direction that religion would take.
So this evolution from dynamism to personalism took place shortly after Egyptians began to write, taking place between 3000 and 2800 BC, and while other regions experienced the same transitions, only in Egypt can it be observed and documented. This process has been called the anthropomorphization of powers, and it produced the first gods in human form, though other methods of depicting this anthropomorphization appear at the same time. For example, the cow heads that crown the Narmer palette contain a human face, while the subjugated "and of papyrus" has a human head attached.
Yet, it should be noted that, in many ways, the ancient Egyptians never completely abandoned the power of animals. Hathor, for example, appears to have been one of the earliest deities to be given anthropomorphic form, but even she retained the horns of her sacred animal, the cow, and was frequently depicted in bovine form millennia after her appearance. The Apis Bull also retained immense importance, and the various protective deities were often in the form of animals throughout Egyptian history.
At first the depictions of gods as humans takes on the form of a body without separate limbs. Erik Hornung has pointed out that this cannot be attributed to mummy form, as Osiris and other gods were later depicted, because it would be some centuries before mummification was practiced. However, one must also remember that the dead were probably at this early time wrapped in some sort of shroud. Still, a more likely explanation is the Egyptian tendency in art throughout the historic period to emphasis the most prominent human features. Note even on the Narmer palette the stance of the king as he smites his enemies. As in later artwork, his head is profiled while his chest and shoulders are viewed from the front. His legs once again return to profile. Hence, Egyptians concentrated on essential and unavoidable features of the human form. The archaic figure of a god shows no more and no less than is necessary to evoke an image in human form.
Initially, there were few gods in human form. Min was probably depicted in human form, as recorded on the annal stone in Palermo, but this is a late copy from early records, so it could have been influenced by later statuary. However, an image of Ptah in human form on a stone vase from Tarkhan can certainly be placed in the early dynastic period. Neith and Satis, who in later periods were depicted in human form, are attested by their inclusion in names during the early dynastic period, but whether they were then represented in human form is unknown. However, we can assume that by the end of the at the beginning of the Old Kingdom, Min, Geb, Nut, Shu and Atum were all depicted in human form and already familiar to Egyptians (though no absolutely certain evidence exists).
Interestingly, though the predynastic Narmer Palette displays a cow's head with a human face, during the first two dynasties of Egypt's historical period, purely anthropomorphic deities appeared along side purely animal forms of gods, who were still predominant, such as Horus (hawk), Seth (dog), Apis (bull) and the baboon-form "great white one". It would not be until later that gods combining human and animal elements, which is so characteristic of Egypt, would make their appearance. Only at the end of the 2nd Dynasty do the first gods in human form with animal heads appear on cylinder seal impressions of King Peribsen. The earliest examples in fact show the god Ash, "lord of Libya". The earliest form with a hawks head and a human body is on the 3rd Dynasty stela in the Louvre, representing the god Horus.
Thus, Egypt's ancient representation of gods would be complete, and continue into the later dynasties with remarkably little change over the next several thousand years.