The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Memphis (Egypt)

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For works with similar titles, see Memphis.
1473328The Encyclopedia Americana — Memphis (Egypt)

MEMPHIS, mĕm'fĭs, Egypt, an ancient city near the apex of the Nile Delta, 12 miles south of Cairo, according to Herodotus, founded by Menes, the first king of Egypt. It was a large, rich and splendid city, and the second capital of Egypt. After the fall of Thebes it became the sole capital. Among its buildings the temples of Ptah, Osiris, Serapis, etc., and its palaces were described as remarkable. At the time of the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses (524 B.C.) it was the chief commercial centre of the country and was connected by canals with the Lakes of Mœris and Mareotis. With the rise of Alexandria the importance of Memphis declined, and it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century. In Strabo's time (20 A.D.) it was, in population and size, next to Alexandria; in biblical history it is mentioned as Moph and Noph. The name Memphis is a corruption of Men-nofer, “good abode.” Edrisi, in the 12th century, describes its remains as extant in his time. Among the works specified by him are a monolithic temple of granite 13½ feet high, 12 long and 7 broad, entirely covered within and without with inscriptions, and statues of great beauty and dimensions, one of which was 45 feet high, of a single block of red granite. These ruins then extended about nine miles in every direction, but the destruction has since been so great, chiefly for the construction of Fostat, an Arabic city on the opposite bank of the Nile, that although Pococke and Bruce fixed upon the village of Mitrahineh as the site (where prone on a mound are two colossal statues of Rameses II), this was not accurately ascertained until the French expedition to Egypt, when the discoveries of numerous heaps of rubbish, of blocks of granite covered with hieroglyphics and sculpture, and of colossal fragments scattered over a space of three leagues in circumference, decided the matter. The views of the great temple of Ptah, the palace of Apis, the sepulchre of the Apis bulls, portions of the White Wall and of pyramids have been identified. Consult Petrie and Walker (in ‘Publications,’ Egyptian Research Account, London 1908).