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Apis Bull

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The Apis bull was the most prominent of the sacred animals. He was a living incarnation of the god Ptah.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus records how priests discovered each new Apis, recognizing it by its hide, which was “black with a white diamond on the forehead, a likeness of vulture wings on his back, double hairs on its tail, and a scarab-shaped mark under its tongue.” The forehead diamond and vulture wings are clear in this statuette.

The Apis bull then lived as a god in a temple. After its death, the Apis was mummified, mourned, and buried with elaborate ceremony.
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 664–30 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26, or later
    PERIOD Late Period to Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/8 x 1 1/8 x 4 7/16 in. (8.6 x 2.9 x 11.2 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by 1905, acquired by Rollin and Feuardent, Paris, France; April 25, 1905, purchased from Rollin and Feuardent by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Apis Bull, 664–30 B.C.E. Bronze, 3 3/8 x 1 1/8 x 4 7/16 in. (8.6 x 2.9 x 11.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 05.397. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum (Gavin Ashworth,er), 05.397_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg)
    IMAGE profile, 05.397_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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