Ancient Egypt Apis bull was considered sacred and worshiped as a symbol of strength, vital energy and power. The bull was the earthly incarnation of a god, a manifestation of the Memphite creation god Ptah; it was the ‘soul (Ba) Ptah’ and the ‘Herald (whm) of Ptah’. Apis was considered to host the God himself as unlike the other animal totems who only provided a link to the god, Apis was, therefore a kind of servant, a divine one. Osiris was universally accepted as God in ancient Egypt and soon the Apis was linked to Osiris and believed to be the incarnation of Osiris when Ptah and Osiris merged. Plutarch described the Apis as the “fair and beautiful image of the soul of Osiris”.

ancient egypt apis bull

Apis, the bull God is usually depicted as a black bull with a sun disk between his horns, and a uraeus snake. Findings at the tomb of Apis show this about this horned deity who died in September 524. It is also interesting to see that the Persian king Cambyses, who had conquered Egypt behaved like a normal Pharaoh, venerating the bull. At the end of the old year, the Apis bull was slaughtered and its flesh eaten by the Pharaoh. It was believed that this is how the Pharaoh would then inherit the great power of Apis.

Ancient Egypt-The Golden Calf

Ancient Egypt Apis The Golden Calf

An Apis calf could be identified by its distinctive marks. It was a black calf bearing a white diamond on its forehead, an image of an eagle on its back, two white hairs on its tail, and a scarab mark under its tongue. Since Apis was so sacred and worshiped, it stands to reason that its mother also referred to as the “Isis cow” was revered as well.


Apis As An Oracle

Ancient Egyptians worshiped the Apis Bull and considered him to be God himself living in the human population. They thought him to be the living image of Osiris and thus consulted him as an oracle and related his actions to mean good or bad omens. After asking a question, if the bull took the food that was offered to him, the omen was good. And if the bull refused the food, it was considered a sinister omen.

The Festival of Ancient Egypt Apis Bull

The Festival of the Apis Bull was celebrated by the Egyptian that lasted for seven days. Throngs of people gathered in Memphis to watch the solemn procession where the priests lead the sacred bull through the welcoming crowds. As a sacrifice to the Apis Bull, all oxen which were entirely free from black spots not even with a single black hair was considered “clean” were chosen as a sacrifice to the Apis Bull.

Death of Apis Bull

On the death of the Apis Bull, the people went into mourning, the body of Apis embalmed and buried with full honors in the manner as if Osiris himself has died, befitting royalty. The animal was carefully mummified and his funeral rites were much more ostentatious placing a heavy burden on the Pharaoh in power at the time.  This is evident from the facts that before being interred in the “Serapeum” in a stone sarcophagus which could weigh over 60 tons. The people grieved until the successor Apis was found then rejoicing commenced with as much joy.