Memphis mĕm´fĭs [key], ancient city of Egypt, capital of the Old Kingdom (c.3100–c.2258 BC), at the apex of the Nile delta and 12 mi (18 km) from Cairo. It was reputedly founded by Menes, the first king of united Egypt. Its god was Ptah. The temple of Ptah, the palace of Apries, and two huge statues of Ramses II are among the most important monuments found at the site. The necropolis of Sakkara, near Memphis, was a favorite burial place for pharaohs of the Old Kingdom. A line of pyramids begins near the necropolis, extending for 20 mi (32 km) to Giza. Memphis remained important during the long dominance by Thebes and became the seat of the Persian satraps (525 BC). Second only to Alexandria under the Ptolemies and under Rome, it finally declined with the founding of nearby Fustat by the Arabs, and its ruins were largely removed for building in the new city and, later, in Cairo.
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