We then went to the site of the ancient capital city Mennefer. Imagine going to Paris 2000 years from now and there is nothing left but a few statues...
Originally, the city had many fine temples, palaces and gardens. But today, other than the scattered ruins, most of the city is gone, or lies beneath cultivated fields, Nile silt and local villages.
Mennefer was also known in Ancient Egypt as Ankh Tawy ("That which binds the Two Lands"), thus stressing the strategic position of the city between Upper and Lower Egypt.
Mennefer reached a peak of prestige under the 6th Dynasty as a centre of the cult of Ptah, Sekhmet and Nefertum. It declined briefly after the 18th Dynasty with the rise of Thebes and was revived under the Persian satraps before falling firmly into second place following the foundation of Alexandria.
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Tradition tells us that Menes founded the city by creating dikes to protect the area from Nile floods. Afterwards, this great city of the Old Kingdom became the administrative and religious center of Egypt. In fact, so dominating is the city during this era that we refer to it as the Memphite period.
The Egyptian historian Manetho referred to Mennefer as Hi-Ku-P'tah ("Place of the Ka of Ptah"), which he wrote in Greek as Aiγυ πτoς (Ai-gu-ptos), giving us the Latin AEGYPTVS and the modern English Egypt.
Actually, Thebes was never exactly the administrative center of Egypt which Mennefer was, its significance being more religious. In fact, by the 18th Dynasty, the Egyptian Kings had apparently moved back into the Palaces of Mennefer.