Bull Cult in Ancient Egypt

Bull cults were highly popular since the First Dynasty (Early Dynastic Period). The virile and vigorous bull was back then associated with the pharaoh, who at times took the tag “strong bull of his mother”. As early as 3100 BC the king is illustrated in the form of a bull. A sacred bull was recognized by particulate sacred markings. Once the bull had been realized as the incarnation of a god, it was lodged in plush quarters, provided only the best food, and with a harem of the best cows. The lucky animal would live in the lap of luxury until its demise when it would be buried and mortified with full glory.

In the present times, bulls are also known to be more muscular than cows, with thicker bones, a very muscular neck, bony head, and larger feet with defensive ridges over the eyes.

A bull is an uncastrated (i.e. intact) adult male of the species Bos taurus (cattle). Beefier, huskier, and hostile than the female of the species, the bull has long been a significant symbol in many cultures. A bull plays a crucial role in both beef and dairy farming, and in a number of other cultural activities. Refer to the diagram below for the imagery of bull cult. 


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Mediterranean Bull Cults

Emergence and Evolution of the Bull Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean.

Gods materialize in all forms in the ancient Mediterranean. Many were humanoid (human-like), or human-created, others manifested in animal form. The bull specifically was considered an angelic animal throughout antiquity and was a symbol of the moon, fertility/potency, reincarnation, and royal power. The earliest illustrations in Paleolithic cave art and the mysterious reverence of the bull in Anatolia would persuade a variety of religious cults in antiquity. From bull jumping in Minoan Crete to the idolization of the Apis bull in Egypt, to the sacrificial depiction in Roman Mithraism, the bull had been an integral part of many diverse and crucial religious traditions.


Worship of Bull Cults

Indication of bull worship has been discovered in areas as varied as India, Africa, and Europe. The bull was the essence of cult reverence starting 15,000 years ago in the late Upper Paleolithic era. One of the exceptional depictions of the bull from the Upper Paleolithic is the cave painting at Altamira in northern Spain. The ceiling of the cave is covered with splendid paintings representing a herd of extinct bison.


Bison Painting at Altamira Cave

Even though no evidence has been found illuminating the rituals centered on the bull that occurred at Altamira, it is amazing to note that initiation ceremonies from some later enigmatic religions in Asia Minor and Greece occurred in caves. It is feasible bull worship, which started with these cave paintings and advanced over thousands of years, prompted and persuaded the roots of religious ritual to occur in caves or darkened temples.

In the Ancient Near East, the earliest evidence of a bull cult had been discovered at Çatal Hüyük around 7000 BCE in Anatolia. Bull paintings are characterized on the northern walls of temples which are like reflections of caves. There are even early depictions of bull games, particularly bull-leaping. The paintings represent young acrobats hopping over the backs of bulls. Apart from paintings, the temples also include 3-dimensional model bullheads made from plaster. Some bulls are represented as being born of the Goddess designating a link between bull and Mother Goddess worship. Actual bull skulls and horns were used to adorn the temples as well.


Plaster Bull Heads from Çatal Hüyük

The anthropomorphic (imagery) of the Goddess and the bull, along with the vulture display the religious beliefs of the denizens of Çatal Hüyük that were concentrated on death and rebirth. Paintings of vast vultures depict the practice of mummification, where bodies were left for scavenging birds to pick clean. The first stamp seals, which may have been extensively used for the purpose of body and textile decoration, were found at Çatal Hüyük. Seals bearing the image of the bull were particularly common. Traders and immigrants from Çatal Hüyük may have brought their religious practices involving the bull to other areas over the next several thousand years.


What is the Difference Between the Bull and Cow

Bulls feature fighting for domination over a herd, rendering the winner superior access to cows for reproduction. The hair is usually shorter on the body, but on the head and neck, there is commonly a "mane" of curlier, wooly hair. Bulls are generally about the same height as cows or a little taller, but with the additional bone and muscle mass, they often weigh far more.

In horned cattle, the horns of bulls are inclined to be thicker and a bit shorter than those of cows, and in many breeds, they curve outwards in a flat arc instead of upwards in a lyre shape. It is not true, as is often believed, that bulls have horns and cows do not: the existence of horns depends on the breed, or in horned breeds on whether the horns have been pruned (on contrary, in many breeds of sheep it is certainly only the males which have horns).


Castrated Bulls (Male Cattle)

Castrated male cattle look similar in appearance to those of females with respect to build and horn shape, although if granted to reach maturity they may be sizably taller than either bulls or cows, with enormously muscled shoulders (but not necks).

However, always remember that Bulls are uncastrated adult male cattle that are most commonly employed for breeding and rodeo riding. There are a variety of breeds of cattle such as Angus and Hereford, which are bred particularly for meat, and Jerseys, which are bred particularly to produce milk. Bulls are kept on ranches all through the United States.


Riding Bulls

Bulls that are raised for the motive of riding obtain excellent care. They daily get 20 pounds of alfalfa and 25 to 30 pounds of mixed grain. Every 15days, riding bulls are given a B-12 complex vitamin injection. Health reviews are carried out each time they cross state lines and they are granted to travel for at most eight hours per day. During their carriage, they stand in 6-10 inches of sawdust shavings. Bulls are treated as if they are “one of the family.” 


Physical Description of Bulls

Bulls literally weigh between 1700 and 1800 pounds. They eat components that are high in alfalfa hay and proteins, known to facilitate the nutrients needed for a healthy bull. Bulls are known to have 4-compartment stomachs and consume strictly vegetation. They swallow their food whole, and then later it is disgorged into their mouths for chewing. This is what is referred to as “chewing the cud.” Their lifespan is generally 20 to 25 years.


Behavior of Bulls

All bulls are distinct and any one of them has the capacity to be hazardous. The exhibit of threat is when the bull turns sideways to the threat, displaying the gigantic profile with the back arched. This may advance to lowering the head and shaking it swiftly and then strenuously from side to side. Direct threats from bulls are lowered head, slouched shoulders, and scratching of the ground with its front feet.


Safety of Bulls

It is very essential to understand the threat posture of bulls. When cornered, it is recommended not to move too quickly, but to back off slowly away, consistently watching the bull until reaching safety. Withdrawing about 20 feet can skip off the threatening behavior. Dairy bulls specifically should never be trusted. A bull should never be managed single-handedly. It may be helpful to carry a cane, stick, handle, or baseball bat to make yourself appear larger and mightier to the bull.


How to Handle Bull?

In order to prevent the rallying of ramming and antagonistic behavior, bull calves must be stroked under their chins rather than on top of the head. This is the way the Cattles groom each other. Calves must never be played with, mocked for, teased, handled roughly, rubbed briskly in the horn area.


Bull Selection

For the purpose of ensuring that bulls are sexually mature and able to serve, bulls require to be well grown. By the time a bull reaches the age of 14–15 months, it should have attained 50% of its mature weight. This must increase to 85% by two the time they are two years old.

To maintain the health of bulls and other cattle, make sure that bulls are given the same vaccination regime as the cows and heifers. Develop a drenching activity under the guidance of a vet as well.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Are Bulls Different From Cows?

Answer: Cows, bull, steer, heifer, and calf are all cattle-related terminologies that you need to be acquainted with if you are seeking interest in the cattle industry. Buying a bull when you meant to buy a cow or steer possibly will not make possible the wishful outcome. It is crucial that you have a solid grip of basic cattle terminology before you go shopping for your first bull or cow. Let’s get to know how cows are different from bulls and others in the cattle clan.


A.   Cows

A full-grown female animal, a cow is a subject of worship in the Hindu religion. To be considered a cow, the animal needs to be a minimum of one year old and have given birth to a calf. Calves are babies of cows. Cows are usually fairly obedient and largely employed for breeding, milk production, dairy production, and meat.


B.   Bulls

A bull is a mature male animal that has never been castrated and has the potential of breeding, which is its main use in a cattle operation. Bulls can be very hostile and muscular and are capable of causing injury to any human or animal they view as a threat.


C.   Steer

A steer is a bull that has been castrated, implying that his testicles have been surgically taken off. Typically steers are more compliant to manage than bulls. Steers are most commonly used for meat production.


D.   Heifer

A heifer is a word used to define a young female cow, which has not had a calf. Heifers can be used for breeding, milk production, or even sold for meat.

2. What is a Sire Cow?

Answer: A bull used for breeding purposes is called a sire. The word "sire" is breeding-specific, as a male who fathers a calf is called the sire of the calf. Bulls who have not fathered any calves will not be regarded as sires since they have not yet sired offspring.


A huge array of terminology is used within the cattle industry to define certain characteristics of particular animals. The bigger and more professional a cattle function is, the more likely it is that you will hear terms such as steer, heifer, stocker, or sire. These terminologies are used to label animals by their age, gender, and purpose in the operation.

3. How to Manage a Bull During Mating?

Answer: When bulls are running with the herd, several steps can be taken to increase bull activity and reduce health hazards. Following are the steps to take:-

1. Examine Bull Mating Performance: In most herds, the time span following the initial 6 weeks of mating depicts the bull mating period. Herd reproductive performance during this period is a sign of bull performance. By reviewing performance at this time, you may be warned that alterations to bull management may be needed. For that you need to:

  • Get the 6-week in-calf rate as well as the not-in-calf rate for your herd.

  • Determine the total weeks of mating

  • Check the expected not-in-calf rate for your herd

Note: If the original not-in-calf rate is higher than expected, it suggests that herd reproductive performance after week 6 of mating was startlingly low. If bulls were running with the herd for the majority of the time period, poor bull performance is one likely cause.