Head of an Apis Bull


from the Staatlichen Museen, Berlin

 gift ofPeter and Doris Bietenholz

date of the original: c. 600 BC

provenance of the original: Egypt, now in the Egyptian Museum, Berlin

description: Bull’s head mounted on wooden plaque. Plaster replica; stone original. Height 33 cm, width 26 cm, depth 15 cm.

Apis was a fertility bull-god whose worship began early in Egyptian history. He was also a protector of the dead and tied closely to the pharaoh (see also: Pharaoh Psammeticus II). Apis was sometimes depicted with the sun-disk of Hathor, his mother, between his horns. Apis was unique among Egyptian deities: he was represented as a bull only (although he later gained an equivalent, the syncretic Hellenistic-Egyptian god Serapis). The bull, therefore, was an extremely important sacred animal. Bull-calves born with the markings of Apis were highly revered.