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Apis, bull deity, painted on the bottom of a wooden coffin, c. 700 BC; in the Roemer und —Bavaria-Verlag
In ancient Egyptian religion, a sacred bull deity worshiped at Memphis. The cult originated at least as early as the 1st dynasty (c. 2925–c. 2775 BCE). Apis was probably at first a fertility god but became associated with Ptah and also with Osiris and Sokaris, gods of the dead. When an Apis bull died, it was buried with great pomp, and the calf that was to be its successor was installed at Memphis. Apis's priests drew omens from the bull's behaviour, and his oracle had a wide reputation. The worship of Serapis (a combination of Osiris and Apis) probably arose at Memphis in the 3rd century BCE and became one of the most widespread Eastern cults in the Roman Empire.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Apis, visit Britannica.com.