Memphis, Egypt – The Epic History Of The Capital Of Ancient Egypt

Memphis Cairo Egypt

Memphis, Egypt

Where Is Memphis Egypt?

The Egypt Exploration Society has been conducting an archaeological examination of the location of Memphis and its embracing area since 1981. A summary of the goals and achievements of the project appeared in Archaeology International1999/2000. In the present essay, the field director reports on the progress made since also and considers some of the contextual aspects of this check of the ancient Egyptian capital.

An agreement from corrosion. Ancient Memphis, located south of Cairo, was the capital of Egypt through the importance of the Pharaonic period. It has been the subject of examination by the Egypt Exploration Society since 1981, and a report on its work appeared in Archaeology International1999/2000.

Ten times on, we can report on the progress made also and consider some of the contextual aspects of this examination of the ancient Egyptian capital. Memphis was constructed in a pivotal position at or near the head of the Nile delta, 20 km south of the center of modern Cairo.

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Where Is Memphis Egypt?

It not only charged the river approaches from the vale to the delta and the Mediterranean but also formed the mecca of numerous cross-desert routes from the Saharan oases to the Red Sea. It’s located in a surprisingly narrow section of the Valley, which clearly enhanced its capability to control business and repel irruption of the river close to the contemporary elite necropoleis of Saqqara, Zawiyet Aryan, Giza, and Abu Rawash; it has latterly migrated, maybe aimlessly, over the past five thousand times to the eastern side of the lowland, and today flows close to the aged rock and clay strata of the eastern( Arabian) desert.

The dynamics behind this long-term shift are still not ideally understood there are presumably multiple causes, similar to the aeolian sand deposit in the west from the Old Kingdom( 2500 BC) onwards, and the conformation of alluvial sand and ground islands as part of the natural Nile authority may be enhanced and stoked by human exertion similar as the construction of intelligencers and earthworks to cover being agreements from corrosion.

The Old Kingdom

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Memphis reached preeminence by the 3rd dynasty. The 3rd- century- BCE chronicler Manetho calls the 3rd and 4th dynasties(c. 2650 –c. 2465 BCE) Memphite, and the huge royal pyramid tombs of this period, in the necropolises of Memphis, confirm this. Djoser, the 2nd king of the 3rd dynasty, was the builder of the Step Pyramid of Ṣaqqārah, the foremost royal foundation at Memphis, and the first important gravestone structure in Egypt.

Imhotep, the king’s mastermind and counsel, is credited with this architectural feat; his character as a wise man and physician-led in after times to his idolization and his identification with the Greek god Asclepius.

The remains of several not completed or badly ruined pyramids near Memphis have been attributed to other 3rd- dynasty lords. The first king of the 4th dynasty, Snefru, erected two aggregate sepultures at Dahshūr. The three great conglomerations of Giza belong to Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, latterly 4th- dynasty monarchs. The Great Sphinx at Giza dates from the time of Khafre.

The last known king of this dynasty, Shepseskaf, erected his grave at South Ṣaqqārah. It wasn’t an aggregate but a distinctive oblong structure with leaning sides now called the Maṣṭabat Firʿawn.

Pyramid of Giza 1 - Memphis, Egypt - The Epic History Of The Capital Of Ancient Egypt - EZ TOUR EGYPT

The royal pyramids are embraced by large cemeteries where the courtiers and officials who had served the king during his continuance were buried. The beautiful reliefs in certain of these tombs include scenes of diurnal life and therefore give some idea of the crafts, costumes, and occupations of the royal court of Memphis. Since little has survived of domestic structure and ménage furnishings, these reliefs are a precious source of information on similar subjects.

A notable exception to the general rule of loss and destruction is the retired tomb of Queen Hetepheres, the mother of Khufu, which was discovered near the Great Aggregate of Giza. Though the queen’s body was unaccountably missing from her coffin, her funerary equipment and cabinetwork survived. The exquisite crafter of these objects testify, as do the splendid low reliefs of the sepultures, to the high development of the trades and crafts of the period.

Indeed, it’s believed by some scholars that the Old Kingdom, told by the crafters of the Memphite court and the philosopher-theologians of Ptah, reached a peak of “ classic ” culture that was noway surpassed in Egypt.

Later History

The Memphite influence continued during the Middle Kingdom( 1938 –c. 1630 BCE), when Egypt was at one time further reunited, with the official hearthstone of the 12th dynasty( 1938 –c. 1756) at hard Itj- tawy( near contemporary Al- Lisht), near the entrance to Al- Fayyūm. Several 12th- dynasty monarchs erected pyramids at Dahshūr, the southernmost of the Memphite pyramid fields, but the maturity of Middle Kingdom monuments was located nearer to Al- Lisht.

Yet the predominant cultural and executive influences during this period feel to be Memphite, and nearly every 12th- dynasty ruler added to the great temple of Ptah.

Another period of political and social chaos followed the 13th dynasty. This other Intermediate Period(c. 1630 – 1540 BCE) is characterized by the presence in Egypt of the Asian Hyksos peoples. According to the 1st- century- CE annalist Josephus, the Hyksos king, whom he calls Salitis, made his capital at Memphis and from there ruled both Upper and Lower Egypt.

Inscriptional and archaeological substantiation, though it’s skimp, tends to confirm the supposition that the Hyksos controlled northern Egypt, but their capital is generally supposed to have been located at Avaris, near Tanis, in the Nile delta. Records left by Kamose, the 17th- dynasty(c. 1630 – 1540 BCE) king who initiated the reconquest of Egypt from the Hyksos, describe his effects as extending from Elephantine to Hermopolis Magna but note that he “ could not pass by( the raider) as far as Memphis. ”

With the final expatriation of the Hyksos and the restoration of a united area under the 18th dynasty(c. 1539 – 1292 BCE), grounded at Thebes in Upper Egypt, Memphis entered a new period of substance. Some scholars claim that Memphis noway lost its political preeminence and that during the New Kingdom(c. 1539 – 1075 BCE), as in earlier times, the megacity was the factual political capital of Egypt, with Thebes simply the religious center.

Such a thesis is insolvable to prove, and it may well be that similar distinctions, with their severity and exclusiveness, are pointless in terms of Egyptian culture.

The significance of Memphis was grounded to a considerable extent on its venerable religious part. Certain the coronation observances were traditionally legislated in Memphis, as was the Heb- Sed Jubilee, a festival celebrated by the king after 30 times of rule and repeated every three times later, maybe a ritual reenactment of the junction of Egypt.
During the New Kingdom, Memphis presumably worked as the alternate, or northern, capital of Egypt. At one time it seems to have been the top residence of the crown prince. Several 18th- dynasty eulogies mention royal stalking parties in the desert near the Sphinx.

Amenhotep II( reigned. 1426 – 00 BCE) was born in Memphis and held the office of the high clerk there. Both he and his son, Thutmose IV( reigned 1400 – 1390 BCE), left eulogies at Giza.

Another period of political and social chaos followed the 13th dynasty. This Alternate Intermediate Period(c. 1630 – 1540 BCE) is characterized by the presence in Egypt of the Asian Hyksos peoples. According to the 1st- century- CE annalist Josephus, the Hyksos king, whom he calls Salitis, made his capital at Memphis and from there ruled both Upper and Lower Egypt.

Inscriptional and archaeological substantiation, though it’s skimp, tends to confirm the supposition that the Hyksos controlled northern Egypt, but their capital is generally supposed to have been located at Avaris, near Tanis, in the Nile delta. Records left by Kamose, the 17th- dynasty(c. 1630 – 1540 BCE) king who initiated the reconquest of Egypt from the Hyksos, describe his effects as extending from Elephantine to Hermopolis Magna but note that he “ could not pass by( the raider) as far as Memphis. ”

temple of ptah at memphis - Memphis, Egypt - The Epic History Of The Capital Of Ancient Egypt - EZ TOUR EGYPT
Memphis Egypt City – Memphis Egypt Facts – Memphis Egypt History

Despite the rise of the god Amon of Thebes, Ptah remained one of the top gods of the pantheon. The great temple of Ptah was added to or rebuilt by nearly every king of the 18th dynasty. Chapels were constructed by Thutmose I, Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III.

Amenhotep III’s son, the religious reformer Akhenaton, erected a temple to his god, Aton, in Memphis. A number of handsome private tombs dating from this period in the Memphite necropolis swear to the actuality of a sizable court.

During the New Kingdom, the megacity participated in the decreasingly smart character of the nation, as trade, foreign subjection, and trip developed. Though Memphis wasn’t on the Nile, it was connected with it by a conduit, and it was presumably important as a marketable center.

Specific diggings of the megacity were named for the foreign colonies — slaves captured of war, or merchandisers — who abided there. A section called the “ Field of the Hittites ” is known, as are, in after ages, sections inhabited by Carians and Phoenicians.

Under the 19th dynasty( 1292 – 1190 BCE) a new royal hearthstone was erected further north at Per Ramessu in the delta, but Memphis continued to be important. The great temple of Ptah was rebuilt. The lords of that period plundered the monuments of their forerunners for structure accouterments, and some of the reused blocks come not only from structures in the megacity but also from temples and pyramid complexes in the Memphite necropolises.

Ramses II( reigned 1279 – 13 BCE) erected several jumbos in the temple. The Serapeum, devoted to the cult of Apis, the bull- god, and erected in the form of a maze, was begun under the son of Ramses II, Khaemwese, high priest of Ptah.

By the end of the 20th dynasty( 1190 – 1075 BCE), the united area had begun to break down formerly again. The sanctioned Centrals were Tanis and Thebes, but the royal palace at Memphis also continued to be mentioned. The growing fashionability of the Apis cult led to a further blowup of the Serapeum. In the 8th century BCE, the Nubian king Piye conquered Egypt and restored its concinnity.

Nubia( Kush), to the south of Egypt, had been under Egyptian political and artistic influence for centuries. A necrology describing Piye’s crusade has survived, and it mentions a siege of Memphis. The megacity had fortified walls and was girdled by water, presumably from its encircling conduits.

Piye took the megacity, but it was left to his family and successor, Shabaka, to claim the royal title. There are some suggestions that this king made Memphis his capital. But the Kushite dynasty was overthrown shortly later when the Assyrians raided Egypt.

Records left by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon( 680 – 669 BCE) relate to the siege and destruction of Memphis, the royal hearthstone of one Tarku( Taharqa), king of Egypt, who came to Caesar in 690 BCE. After the death of Esarhaddon, Taharqa recaptured Memphis, but he was driven out of the megacity again by Ashurbanipal of Assyria, in667/668 BCE.

The collapse of Assyria( 612 BCE) led to brief Egyptian independence under the 26th dynasty( 664 – 525 BCE; see ancient Egypt The Late period), but it wasn’t long before new raiders appeared. The Persian Cambyses II took Memphis by siege in 525 BCE. After years of Persian rule, Egypt was ready to drink Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. The conqueror used Memphis as his headquarters while making plans for his new metropolis of Alexandria. After his death in Babylon, his body was brought to Egypt and was laid to rest temporarily in Memphis before being buried at Alexandria.

Under the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty( 332 – 30 BCE), Memphis retained its smart character and had a sizable Greek population. Some of the diversified ethnical types to be set up in the megacity during Greco- Roman times are depicted in a series of striking terra-cotta heads dating from this period.

In the morning of the Roman period( 1st century BCE), Memphis was still considered an important parochial capital. The serious decay of the ancient megacity began after the rise of Christianity when crusaders of that faith defaced and destroyed the remaining pagan temples. In the 5th century CE, the Christian friary of Apa Jeremias rose among the venerable sepultures of Ṣaqqārah.

The capital continued to deteriorate, entering its death blow during the Muslim subjection of Egypt in 640 CE. A garrison and stronghold called Babylon enthralled the eastern end of the ground that crossed the Nile from Memphis, and after a long siege, the fort was taken by the Arab general ʿAmr ibn al- ʿĀṣ.

Memphis was abandoned, and latterly the many remaining structures were disassembled so that the gravestone might be reused in the neighboring townlets and in Cairo, after that megacity’s founding in the 10th century.

Archaeology of Memphis

The ancient city of Memphis lies near the modern villige of Mīt Ruhaynah. At the start of the 20th century, some ruined walls were still to be seen, but these have since faded, and the only monument above ground is a colossal statue of Ramses II, which formerly adorned the great temple of Ptah.

The first archaeologist to work at the city point for any prolonged period was Flinders( latterly Sir Flinders) Petrie, who shoveled between 1908 and 1913, uncovering sections of the great temple of Ptah. These remains, left exposed, soon faded under the depredations of the near villagers.

A University of Pennsylvania passage worked at the point in 1917, chancing foundations of a palace of Merneptah( 1213 – 04 BCE), east of the temple of that king. The university- patronized further digging in 1955 and 1956, digging corridor of the great temple and a small temple of Ramses II.

Since about the mid-19th century there has been hardly a season when archaeological exertion wasn’t pacing at one or another of the pyramid spots. nearly all of the pyramids and maturity of the large private sepultures were entered by treasure nimrods before the morning of scholarly excavation.

One of the foremost scholars to work in the Memphite area was Auguste Mariette, who discovered the Serapeum in 1850. Among the most important of Mariette’s successors were George Andrew Reisner and Hermann Junker, who shoveled at Giza; Ludwig Borchardt, who shoveled the sun temples and the 5th- dynasty pyramids at Abū Ṣīr; Ahmed Fakhry, who worked in the pyramids of Snefru at Dahshūr; and Zakaria Goneim, who discovered a preliminarily unknown pyramid, presumably of the 3rd dynasty, to the southwest of the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah.

Also noteworthy are the excavations ofJ.P. Lauer in the Step Pyramid complex. In the 1930s Walter Bryan Emery began the excavations that uncovered the great 1st- dynasty sepultures. His work in the archaic cemetery bared another huge maze, suggesting that of the Serapeum, the precise function of which is as yet undetermined. Beginning in the 1980s, the Egypt Exploration Society patronized a long-range check of the Memphite area to determine its extent and development from different literal ages. Large sculptural and architectural rudiments recovered from colorful excavations are displayed at an out-of-door gallery at Mīt Ruhaynah.


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The entire country of Egypt deserves to be explored in its stunning detail, but there are places that must be seen above all else such as the breathtaking Red Sea of ​​Hurghada, the wonders of Cairo, the pyramids Giza, the Great Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, the Khan El Khalili Market, the wonders of Luxor such as the Valley of the Kings, the temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut, and the wonders of Aswan such as the temple of Abu Simbel, the temple of Phileus, the Obelisk unfinished and wonders of Alexandria such as the Citadel of Qaitbat, the Pillar of Pompey, and the Library of Alexandria. Learn about the best places to visit in Egypt.

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Keeping in mind that Egypt is a conservative society, dress moderately as you wich, but of course, light cotton clothes are preferred during the summer, and a cover for your head like a hat or scarf to protect you from the sun, a jacket for the winter nights will come in handy, and something comfortable for your feet like sneakers or a flip flop.

In a restaurant, it is good to give between 5 and 10% tips to the waiter. For a small favor, like carrying luggage or parking a car, a few Egyptian pounds would be appropriate. No less than five. Often times in Egypt you will find someone tending to the bathroom to keep it clean. Giving them a few Egyptian pounds is an appropriate amount. Tipping your tour guide and vehicle driver is completely optional but should be considered if you’re provided with great service. If you decide to tip feel free to give what you think your experience was worth.

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