"The ruins of Memphis hold a half-day's journey in every direction" - Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi
According to legend, the ancient city of Memphis was founded by the pharaoh Menes. Its foundation certainly goes back to the beginnings of Egyptian history: in 2012 an inscription depicting the visit of the predynastic king Iry-Hor - who predated Narmer - to Memphis was discovered in the Sinai.
The city became the capital from the 1st dynasty and was called "White Walls" (Ineb-hedj).
During the Middle Kingdom, the capital moved to Thebes, but Memphis remained an important administrative and commercial centre.
In the New Kingdom, Memphis became a centre for the education of royal princes and the sons of the nobility and continued as a commercial centre of trade with neighbouring states.
Under Persian rule Memphis was the administrative headquarters and for almost a century and a half, the city remained the capital of the Persian satrapy of Egypt.
During the Ptolemaic period the decline of the city began and with the arrival of the romans it lost its importance. Later and especially with the foundation of the new capital of Cairo, Memphis was used as a quarry to build new settlements.
Memphis was under the protection of the creator god Ptah, god of craftsmen and architects, who was worshipped here together with his wife Sekhmet and their son Nefertem.
The Hout-ka-Ptah - “House of the ka of Ptah” -, was the largest and most important temple in Memphis. It was one of the most prominent structures in the city, occupying a large precinct within the city’s center. It was one of the three foremost places of worship in Ancient Egypt, constantly enlarged by additions to it from the different ruling kings.
The ruins of the former capital today is open to the public as an open-air museum near the Egyptian city of Mit Rahina. It is hard to imagine standing there the magnificent city of "half-day's journey in every direction".
Map by Rebekah Miracle, AERA GIS
We will show you a selection of images depicting the god Ptah - all of these can be viewed in the Open Air Museum today.
Red granite statue group of the god Ptah and Ramesses II, from the main entrance area of the Great Temple of Ptah.
Doorjamb of the Great Temple of Ptah, carved from red granite, this photo shows the lower scene, where Ramesses II worships Ptah presenting burning incense.
Red granite kneeling life-sized statue of the mayor, Vizier and High Priest of Ptah in Memphis, Pa-Rahotep, bearing a shrine with the god Ptah.
Fragment of a lotus column of Ramesses II made of red granite with the god Ptah on the bottom left.
Red granite standard-bearing statue of Ramesses II, with the god Ptah on the left and the god Thoth on the right.
Remains of a slab depicting the god Ptah and showing the names of Ramesses II.
Remains of a column showing the god Ptah and the names of Ramesses II.
Remains of a slab that most likely depicts the god Ptah in his tight cloak.
Showing alternating hieroglyphic signs of life and dominion at the base.