Ancient Egyptian Religion

The Apis Bull

3000 BC—4th century AD, Memphis, ancient Egypt.

The Apis Bull was an incarnation of the god Ptah, and after death, the god Osiris.

Nearly five thousand years ago, before the pyramids were built, and before the bluestones had been brought to the Neolithic henge at Stonehenge, the cult of the Apis Bull was instigated in ancient Egypt, according to the Hellenic-Egyptian historian Manetho, who wrote in the 3rd century BC.

Over a thousand years after the building of the pyramids, around the time of the warrior Pharaoh Ramses II, a vast cavern was excavated at Saqqara near Memphis to contain the burial chambers and lavish sarcophagi that would be the final resting place of these beasts thereafter. This rich burial ground, and its later extensions, was to be used for another fifteen hundred years.

The Apis Bull was an incarnation of the god Ptah, and after death, the god Osiris. It was kept in lavish temple surroundings, had its own harem and when it died, a search for the new Apis Bull, the new incarnation of Ptah as a bull, involved searching the whole of Egypt for a particular animal; just as the Tibetan monks once scoured the whole of Tibet for the young boy who was the old Dalai Lama reincarnated. But the god was kind. He gave away his identity when only a small calf by displaying a white diamond on his forehead, a white pattern on his otherwise black coat shaped like the wing of an eagle or a vulture, two white hairs on his tail and a scarab mark under his tongue. By these unique marks his new emergence into life could be recognised.

The Greeks later represented the Apis Bull as a man, Serapis, a combination of the Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis, represented as a Hellenistic deity.

The Apis Bull, in: Oakes, Lorna and Gahlin, Lucia, 2002, 2004. Ancient Egypt: an illustrated reference to the myths, religions, pyramids and temples of the land of the Pharaohs. Hermes House. The Serapaeum, pp 102–3.

Description of the Apis Bull in: SĂ©lincourt, Aubrey De, and Marincola, John, 1996. Herodotus: The Histories. Translated from ancient Greek with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. Herodotus: Book Three, p 165.

See for yourself

The Apis Bull - Wikipedia

Osiris - Wikipedia

Osiris-Dionysus - Wikipedia

Birds and animals

Northern Line

pencil drawing, a sleeping cat
baby monkeys

Navigate the tunnel

Birds and animals: summary

Current location: explore the motifs

hawk in flight
Advanced Tips
Type Example Notes
Fuzzy kettle~ Contain terms that are close to the word kettle, such as cattle
Wild cat* Contain terms that begin with cat, such as category and the extact term cat itself
Exact-Single orange Contain the term orange
Exact-Phrase "dnn is awesome" Contain the exact phase dnn is awesome
OR orange bike Contain the term orange or bike, or both. OR, if used, must be in uppercase
orange OR bike
AND orange AND bike Contain both orange and bike. AND must be in uppercase
Combo (agile OR extreme) AND methodology Contain methodology and must also contain agile and/or extreme
Results per Page:
Limit the search results with the specified tags.
Limit the search results modified within the specified time.
Limit the search results from the specified source.
Search results must be an exact match for the keywords.
bronze statue of a mermaid