Mummified bull

From Thebes, Egypt
Roman Period, after 30 BC

Elaborately bandaged mummy of a calf

Bulls were sacred to several gods. The famous Apis bull at Memphis was considered the earthly manifestation of Ptah, through which he issued oracles. The Buchis bull at Armant was sacred to Montu and the Mnevis bull at Heliopolis to Re. Like Apis, these bulls gave oracles. They were identified by special markings and represented by one actual animal at a time. At death, they were mummified and buried, in a manner similar to that used for wealthy Egyptians, in vast catacombs.

Bulls in general were also sacred to other gods, such as Amun at Thebes. Pious individuals would sometimes dedicate a calf to the god, a smaller and less expensive token of their devotion. This is a typical example of such a calf mummy. The body is wrapped to appear as if it is lying down, though the bones inside the bandages were often jumbled. Details such as the eyes and horns were picked out in a dark and light colour, and the chest was often covered with a very elaborate pattern.

X-ray evidence of this and other calves show that the animals died, or were killed, at between 10 and 12 months old.

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Mummified bull

From Thebes, Egypt Roman Period, after 30 BC

  • The king kneeling before the Apis bull

    The king kneeling before the Apis bull


More information


F. Sergent, Momies bovines de lÉgypte anci (Paris, Musees royaux d'art et d'histoire, 1986)

C.A.R. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 45.700 cm
Length: 73.700 cm

Museum number

EA 6773


Henry Salt Collection


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