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Updated: 14 April 2015


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Round-topped sandstone stela divided into three registers: 1 - Winged sun-disc with pendent crowned uraei and jackals with flails below. 2 - Scene of Ptolemy II wearing the double crown offering to the Buchis Bull. 3 - Four lines of Hieroglyphic text recording the death of the sacred Buchis bull.

    Ptolemy II wears a double crown, possibly with a streamer hanging from the back and a false beard, as well as a broad collar, projecting kilt, and bull’s tail. He presents an offering tray with three bread loaves shaped like reed leaves, one of which is damaged. An incense burner stands before the bull, who wears a sun-disc with double-plumes, and a stands on a platform. Above the incense burner is a column intended for text, but no trace of inscription is evident and it may have been left blank. On the left, over the figure of the bull, is a second winged sun-disc, smaller and with unusually positioned wings, more often seen on hovering Horus falcons.
    Despite the rather poor quality of the stone, the musculature of the king’s knees and the bull’s legs are indicated, and their faces are relatively modelled. The king’s face is somewhat rounded and fleshy. The stela is chipped around the edges.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 332BC-30BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 56 centimetres
    • Width: 41 centimetres
    • Depth: 12 centimetres
    • Weight: 20 kilograms
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Comment

        The hieroglyphic text records the death of the sacred Buchis bull.
  • Curator's comments

    PM V: p. 158.

    The Buchis bull was one of several sacred bulls, the most famous being the Apis bull at Memphis. Bulls were symbolic of physical strength and were associated with male fertility. The Buchis bull was sacred to Montu, and lived at Armant, south of Thebes. Like the Apis, there was only one Buchis bull at a time. He was identified by special markings, a white body and black face. Macrobius, a Roman writer living in about AD 400, records the unlikely information that the bulls changed colour hourly, and had hair which grew backwards.

    When it died, the Buchis bull was mummified and placed in a catacomb known as the Bucheum. Each burial was marked by one or more stelae, just like those put up for human tombs. This one shows the king offering bread to the bull, who stands behind an offering table laden with the food to sustain him through eternity. The information on these stelae helped Sir Robert Mond and Walter Bryan Emery to determine the dates of the burials, when they discovered the Bucheum in 1927. The catacombs that they found were used from the time of Nectanebo II (reigned 360-343 BC) to that of Diocletian (AD 284-305), a period of over 600 years.

    R. Mond and O. Myers, The Bucheum (London, 1934).


  • Bibliography

    • Mond & Myers 1934 2:3-4, 28-29, 52, pl. XXXXVIII. bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2011 Jul–Sept, Newcastle, Great North Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Oct–Jan, Dorchester, Dorset County Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Feb–June, Leeds City Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Jul-Oct, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Nov– Feb 2013, Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2013 Mar–Aug, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery , Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2015 onwards, International touring exhibition TBC, Pharaoh: King of Egypt, PROMISED

  • Condition


  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1927-1931 by Robert Ludwig Mond on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Society.

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Sandstone stela showing Ptolemy II offering to the Buchis bull


COMPASS Title: Sandstone stela showing Ptolemy II offering to the Buchis bull

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA56709

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