Memphis is the early capital of Egypt in the Pharaonic times.
Its name is derived from the Coptic name Menfe (also used in
Arabic) which in turn was taken from the hieroglyphic
name 'Mennufer' which means 'the beautiful
place.' It was probably built by King Menes
of the 1st
dynasty around 3100 BC.
The city, now in ruins, was once a prosperous city as described
by Greek historian Herodotus. Memphis didn't loose its position
even after emergence of Thebes
(Luxor) as a capital in the Middle
Kingdom. The past grandeur of the city can be felt from
the size of its necropolises
Rawash and Dahshur.
But later the city was overflowed by the Nile floods over centuries
causing gradual damage of the city precipitated by the demolition
of the locals. The city began to diminish in the Christian era
and after the Arab
invasion in the 7th century AD. Today little is left of
this once-a-great city. There are scattered ruins of Ptah
temple and palaces that one day dominated the site.
Memphis is about 24 km (15 miles) south of Cairo
and about 3 km (2 miles) south of Saqqara.