1 32 Route 9. MEMPHIS.
Cambyses, the first monarch of the Persian dynasty, took the city by
storm after his victory at Pelusium (B.C. 525) over Psammetikh III.; and
even after the foundation of Alexandria (B.C. 332) it still retained some
importance. Under Augustus it was a large and populous city, though
its palaces, elevated on an eminence, lay ruined and deserted. Among
the temples that still existed were those of Ptah, of Apis (p. 135), and
of a female deity, who was identified with the Aphrodite of the Greeks.
In consequence of the edict of Theodosius (A.D. 379-395; comp. p. xcii)
the temples and statues were destroyed, and under the later Byzantine
monarchs the heretical Monophysites (p. xciii) seem to have been very
numerous here. Mukaukis, the leader of the Copts, was established at
Memphis while negotiating with 'Amr Ibn el-'As, the general of 'Omar
(p. 32). The Mohammedan conquerors transferred their residence to the
right hank of the Nile, opposite the northernmost part of Memphis, using
the well-hewn blocks, which had once composed the venerable palaces
and temples of the ancient city of Menes, for the construction of their
palaces, castles, and mosques at Cairo. Memphis, however, was so vast,
that it was long before its plunderers succeeded in entirely destroying it.
Down to a late period the ruins of Memphis excited the admiration of
all visitors. Thus 'Abdellatif (at the end of the 12th cent.) assures us
that even in his time the ruins contained a profusion of wonders which
bewildered the mind and baffled description. — After his time the rapidly
dwindling ruins of Memphis are rarely mentioned.
The path diverging to the left from the Bedrashen embankment,
and leading through the palm-grove to the village of Mlt RaMneh,
brings us to the *Colossal Statues of Eamses II., which once
marked the entrance to the temple. The first of these, discovered
in 1888, is made of granite, and lies on its back on a slight eminence,
so that to see the face it is necessary to climb on to its breast. Its
length is 25 ft., not including the crown, which is 6^/2 ft- in length.
The square hole in the head of the colossus was for the insertion of
the crown, which now lies on the ground beside it. On both shoulders,
breast, girdle, and bracelet occurs the name of the king; and on the
pillar at the back is an inscription. On the left of the statue is an incised
relief of Princess Bent-Anat. — A stele of Apries (26th Dyn.) and the upper
part of a double statue of Ptah and Ramses II. (?) have also been found
on this spot. In the rounded pediment of the stele appear Ptah, on the
left, and the hawk-headed Sokaris, on the right.
A few min. farther on we reach the mud-hut that conceals the
Second Colossus (adm. 4 pias. for those without official admission
ticket, see p. 130), discovered by Messrs. Caviglia and Sloane
(p. 116) in 1820. A wooden flight of steps ascends to a platform
from which the statue is inspected. It consists of remarkably hard
and fine-grained limestone, and before it was injured was about
42 ft. in height, corresponding to the measurement given by Hero¬
dotus (30 cubits of l1^ ft- each). The workmanship is excellent.
The handsome and gentle features of the king are admirably re¬
produced. An artificial beard is attached to the chin. In the girdle
is a dagger adorned with two hawk's heads. On the right shoulder,
the breast, and the girdle appear the prsenomina of Ramses II. —
In front of the hut are several fragments of monuments, showing
the name of Ramses II.
To the N. of the colossi, near the village that crowns the hill oiKdin
el-Khanzir, are the foundations of a temple of Ptah, built by Ramses II.,
with representations of local deities.