Originally a fertility symbol, he became the sacred bull, or the 'Ba' of the creator god Ptah at the cult center of Memphis. The Apis was linked to Pharaoh as the divine manifestation of a god and the bulls became important enough to have a grand burial at Saqqara, with national mourning and mummification.
From the 22nd Dynasty onwards the Apis bull was depicted on private coffins and obviously regarded as a protector of the deceased.
The Apis bull was assimilated into the god Osiris at his death; Osiris-Apis which in the early Ptolemaic period became hellenized as Serapis and combined to several other Greek deities.
The cow mothers of these bulls were venerated as a form of Isis, which at their death were given similar burials at the Iseum further to the north of Saqqara. These burals were discovered and excavated an the 1970´s.
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