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Apis Bull

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The cult of the Apis bull at Memphis was one of the oldest cults in Egypt, dating to Dynasty I and perhaps even the Predynastic Period. The Apis bull was a manifestation of the god Ptah and an intermediary for that god as well, thus endowed with oracular powers. At the death of an Apis bull, the underground burial chambers where his mummy would be interred were opened for a period of seventy days. During that time, private individuals would erect stelae and leave votive offerings for the deceased bull, asking for benefits like good health and longevity for themselves and their kin. This bronze is quite likely such a votive.

DATES 381–343 B.C.E.
DYNASTY Dynasty 30
PERIOD Late Period
DIMENSIONS 3 9/16 × 1 1/8 × 2 3/4 in. (9 × 2.9 × 7 cm) As mounted: 5 1/8 × 2 3/16 × 3 in. (13 × 5.5 × 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Small bronze figure of an Apis Bull standing on an oblong plinth. Between his horns is the sun disk with uraeus. Incised collar and incised decorations on back. Condition: Intact, numerous scattered light green spots, balance of surface dull black. Cast solid, good workmanship, decorations on back probably only decorative, though a close inspection might reveal an inscription. Large dowel on base.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Apis Bull, 381–343 B.C.E. Bronze, 3 9/16 × 1 1/8 × 2 3/4 in. (9 × 2.9 × 7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 05.367. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 05.367_edited_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 05.367_edited_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2017
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