Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Apis (Egyptian mythology)
In Egyptian mythology, Apis (or Hapi-ankh) The "living deceased one" or Osiris incarnate in the sacred white Bull. He was the bull god of Memphis, Egypt. The symbol, (a black bull with a white triangle on its forehead), rather than Apis, was personified on Earth. Apis was the bull-god that, on reaching the age of twenty-eight, the age when Osiris was killed by Set, was put to death with a great ceremony. His cult was associated at first with Ptah, and the underworld (Duat)
By the New Kingdom, the remains of the Apis bulls were interred at the cemetery of Saqqara. The earliest known burial in Saqqara was performed in the reign of Amenhotep III by his son Thutmosis; afterwards, seven more bulls were buried nearby. Rameses II initiated Apis burials in the Serapeum, an underground complex of burial chambers at Saqqara for the sacred bulls, a site used through the rest of Egyptian history into the reignof Cleopatra VII.
The Serapeum was discovered by Auguste Mariette, who excavated most of the complex. Unfortunately his notes of the excavation were lost, which has complicated the use of these burials in establishing Egyptian chronology. The problem with these series of sacred burials is that from the reign of Rameses XI through the 23rd year of Osorkon II -- a period of about 250 years -- only 9 bulls are known: this number includes 3 burials not actually found, but assumed to exist by Mariette in a chamber he felt was to dangerous to excavate. Egyptologists believe that there should be more burials, but even after redating four burials Mariette dated to the reign of Ramesses XI, and recalculating the dates, there is still a gap of 130 years that needs accounting for. Some Egyptologists, such as David Rohl, have siezed on this discrepency, and argued that the dating of the Twentieth dynasty should be redated some 300 years closer to the present in time; others assume that there are more burials of these sacred bulls waiting to be discovered and excavated.
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