Apis Bull

Apis Bull

400-100 BC

Serpentinite

Overall: 52.5 cm (20 11/16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1969.118

Description

Sacred animal cults have a long history in ancient Egypt, but they became even more important in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Because each god could incarnate himself into any animal species, beasts of all sorts--dogs, cats, ibises, crocodiles--were protected, venerated, mummified, and collected by the thousands in specialized animal cemeteries. The sacred bull cults were different. Apis, the bull of Memphis, was a god in his own right. But he was also associated with other deities, such as Ptah, the god of Memphis, and Osiris, in the form of Osiris-Apis (or Serapis). Statues and reliefs always show him crowned with a sun disk and cobra. When an Apis bull died, he was given a burial fit for a king in an area of the Memphite cemetery known as the Serapeum.

Video

The Apis Bull
Selecting a Successor
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