August 13, 2013

Memphis Egypt Facts

Memphis
Memphis is the ancient capital of the 1st «nome» or province of Lower Egypt, Mennof-Ra, which the Greeks called Memphis and which Herodotus claims was founded by Menes who united the two parts of Egypt. Of Memphis there remains today almost nothing except a few ruins. The prophesy of Jeremiah that «Memphis shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant» (Jeremiah XLVI, 19) has been well and truly fulfilled. Nevertheless Memphis had known centuries of great splendour culminating in the Vlth dynasty when it was the principal centre of the cult of Ptah. In an epigraph found at Abu Simbel Ramses II addressed the god in this manner: «At Memphis I have enlarged your house, I have, built it with much work, with gold and with precious stones...». Not only this but Memphis was also the site of chariot factories, the main sector in the Egyptian war industry. In the centre of Memphis there must have existed the citadel «with the white walls» started by Imhotep. People of every nationality, of every race and of every religion must have lived and worked in this city.

Memphis Egypt
It is really incredible that of -all this great splendour there should be left almost nothing except an unending vista of ruins, truncated colums, walls and bits of stone. With the rise and growth of Alexandria, Memphis was progressively abandoned and fell slowly, but inexorably, into ruins. During the course of excavations, started in the 19th century, the remains of the temple of Ptah, where the pharaohs were crowned, and also a little chapel in honour of Ptah built by Seti I, were brought to light. In front of the temple there once stood a series of colossal statues of Ramses II, only two of which remain today.

Memphis Egypt
One, in red granite, can now be seen in the square by the railway station in Cairo. The second is lying in all its glory on the ground in front of the temple. Originally thirteen metres high, it bears the name of the great pharaoh engraved in his cartouche on the right shoulder, on the breast and on the belt. A few tens of metres from this colossus one finds a sphinx dating perhaps from the era of Amon-Ofis II. Carved from a single block of alabaster it is four and half metres high, eight metres long and weighs, it is believed, at least eighty tonnes and together with others it once flanked the entry to the temple of Ptah.

Memphis Egypt

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