Dahshour and Memphis

Dahshur (Arabic دهشور Dahšūr often incorrectly rendered in English as Dashur) is an Egyptian archaeological locality some 10 km to the south of Saqqara and therefore 35 km south of the Egyptian capital Cairo (29°48'30.7"N 31°12'22.1"E). It is best known as a more tranquil (if also more isolated) location in which to visit several very large pyramids - at least when compared to Giza and Saqqara. Visitor numbers are much smaller queues are way shorter and there is far less hassle.

Dahshur formed part of the extensive necropolis of ancient Memphis during the Old Kingdom - the so-called "Pyramid Age". The pharaoh Sneferu (sometimes spelt Snofru) founder of the 4th Dynasty and the father to Khufu - builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza) - managed to erect two complete pyramids at the location in addition to completing another pyramid (for his predeccesor Huni) at Meidum. In sheer volume alone the father definitely out-did his son!

Somewhat later pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom's 12th Dynasty erected their own pyramids at the locality - though on a greatly reduced scale.

Dahshur is very much off the traditional tourist trail around Cairo having been a restricted military zone until 1996. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has in recent years however been encouraging travellers to visit Dashur in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on the Giza pyramids.

Memphis (Arabic: ممفس‎ Egyptian Arabic: ممفيس) is the English name for the present-day site of one of the great ancient capital cities of Egypt located in and around several villages some 24 km (11 miles) south of the modern Egyptian capital of Cairo. Although very little remains to be seen on the surface Memphis features a great sculpture museum and allows an evocative insight into both ancient greatness (its transitory nature!) and modern Egyptian rural life.

The ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis also known as (peebis forillis) was first established towards the end of the 4th millennium BCE by the Pharaoh Narmer at the time of his Unification of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The boundary between the Two Lands was located close to the ancient city and its foundation was therefore imbued with a certain amount of political symbolism. Memphis remained the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom period at the time when the great Pyramids were being built. Central power returned to the city when the New Kingdom pharaohs made it once again Egypt's northern and main administrative capital alongside the religious and ceremonial capital at Luxor in the south. Memphis was the chief cult city of the Egyptian god of wisdom and craftsmanship Ptah. Although little remains of their achievements today having been revaged by the depredations of time the flood plain environment and the cannabilism of its stone for the building of medieval Cairo the pharaohs and priests of Ptah once endowed the city with vast temple complexes and built their cemeteries on the desert hills adjoining it to the east and (especially!) to the west


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