Sais, Egypt

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Coordinates: 30°57′53″N30°46′6″E / 30.96472°N 30.76833°E / 30.96472; 30.76833

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Sais
Jean-Francois Champollion - Plan Des Ruines De Sais.cropped.png
Map of Sais ruins drawn by Jean-François Champollion during his expedition in 1828
Egypt adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Sais
Location in Egypt
Coordinates: 30°57′53″N30°46′6″E / 30.96472°N 30.76833°E / 30.96472; 30.76833
CountryFlag of Egypt.svg  Egypt
Governorate Gharbia
Time zone UTC+2 (EST)

Sais (Ancient Greek : Σάϊς , Coptic : Ⲥⲁⲓ) or Sa El Hagar (Arabic : صا الحجر) was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. [1] It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, the fifth nome of Lower Egypt and became the seat of power during the Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt (c. 732–720 BC) and the Saite Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (664–525 BC) during the Late Period. [2] Its Ancient Egyptian name was Zau.

Coptic language Latest stage of the Egyptian language

Coptic, or Coptic Egyptian, is the latest stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century as an official language. Egyptian began to be written in the Coptic alphabet, an adaptation of the Greek alphabet with the addition of six or seven signs from Demotic to represent Egyptian sounds the Greek language did not have, in the 1st century AD.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Nile Delta delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River drains into the Mediterranean Sea

The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers 240 km (150 mi) of Mediterranean coastline and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km (99 mi) in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo.

Overview

Sais in hieroglyphs
Sais%2C Egypt
Sais%2C Egypt
Sais%2C EgyptSais%2C EgyptSais%2C Egypt

Sau (Zau)
Sȝw
Greek Σάϊς (Sais)

Herodotus wrote that Sais is where the grave of Osiris was located and that the sufferings of the god were displayed as a mystery by night on an adjacent lake. [3]

Herodotus ancient Greek historian, often considered as the first historian

Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire. He is known for having written the book The Histories, a detailed record of his "inquiry" on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars. He is widely considered to have been the first writer to have treated historical subjects using a method of systematic investigation—specifically, by collecting his materials and then critically arranging them into a historiographic narrative. On account of this, he is often referred to as "The Father of History", a title first conferred on him by the first-century BC Roman orator Cicero.

Osiris god of the afterlife in Egyptian mythology

Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and rebirth in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive atef crown, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son. He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning "Foremost of the Westerners", a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called "king of the living": ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead "the living ones". Through syncretism with Iah, he is also the god of the Moon.

The city's patron goddess was Neith, whose cult is attested as early as the First Dynasty of Egypt (c. 3100–3050 BC). [2] The Greeks, such as Herodotus, Plato, and Diodorus Siculus, identified her with Athena and hence postulated a primordial link to Athens. Diodorus recounts that Athenians built Sais before the deluge. While all Greek cities were destroyed during that cataclysm, including Athens, Sais and the others Egyptian cities survived. [4]

Neith Egyptian goddess

Neith was an early ancient Egyptian deity who was said to be the first and the prime creator. She was said to be the creator of the universe and all it contains and she governs how it functions.

The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt covers the first series of Egyptian kings to rule over a unified Egypt. It immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, possibly by Narmer, and marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period, a time at which power was centered at Thinis.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece and the founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

In Plato's Timaeus and Critias (around 395 BC, 200 years after the visit by the Greek legislator Solon), Sais is the city in which Solon receives the story of Atlantis, its military aggression against Greece and Egypt, its eventual defeat and destruction by gods-punishing catastrophe, from an Egyptian priest. Solon visited Egypt in 590 BC. Plato also notes the city as the birthplace of the pharaoh Amasis II. [5]

Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character Timaeus of Locri, written c. 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings and is followed by the dialogue Critias.

Critias was an ancient Athenian political figure and author. Born in Athens, Critias was the son of Callaeschrus and a first cousin of Plato's mother Perictione. He became a leading and violent member of the Thirty Tyrants. He also was an associate of Socrates, a fact that did not endear Socrates to the Athenian public.

Solon 7th and 6th-century BC Athenian statesman and lawgiver

Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. He wrote poetry for pleasure, as patriotic propaganda and in defence of his constitutional reforms.

Plutarch said that the shrine of Athena, which he identifies with Isis, in Sais carried the inscription "I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised." [6]

Plutarch ancient Greek historian and philosopher

Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.

Isis goddess in ancient Egyptian religion

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and produces and protects his heir, Horus. She was believed to help the dead enter the afterlife as she had helped Osiris, and she was considered the divine mother of the pharaoh, who was likened to Horus. Her maternal aid was invoked in healing spells to benefit ordinary people. Originally, she played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. She was usually portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head. During the New Kingdom, as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor's headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

Veil of Isis

The veil of Isis is a metaphor and allegorical artistic motif in which nature is personified as the goddess Isis covered by a veil or mantle, representing the inaccessibility of nature's secrets. It is often combined with a related motif, in which nature is portrayed as a goddess with multiple breasts who represents Isis, Artemis, or a combination of both.

Hector Berlioz' L'enfance du Christ ("The Childhood of Christ"), in part Three, has Sais as the setting for the youth of Jesus until age 10, after his parents leave their homeland to escape the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod the Great.

There are today no surviving traces of this town prior to the Late New Kingdom (c. 1100 BC) due to the extensive destruction of the city by the Sebakhin (farmers removing mud brick deposits for use as fertilizer) leaving only a few relief blocks in situ. [2]

Though the proposed Sa El Hagar site has little evidence of this city, Obelisks in Minerva and Urbino Italy are claimed to originate from Sais.

Medical school

The Temple of Sais had a medical school associated with it, as did many ancient Egyptian temples. The medical school at Sais had many female students and apparently women faculty as well, mainly in gynecology and obstetrics. An inscription from the period survives at Sais, and reads, "I have come from the school of medicine at Heliopolis, and have studied at the woman's school at Sais, where the divine mothers have taught me how to cure diseases". [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

Amasis II Egyptian pharaoh

Amasis II or Ahmose II was a pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt, the successor of Apries at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest.

Greek literature dates from ancient Greek literature, beginning in 800 BC, to the modern Greek literature of today.

Muses goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They are considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in these ancient cultures.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Zagreus was sometimes identified with a god worshipped by the followers of Orphism, the “first Dionysus”, a son of Zeus and Persephone, who was dismembered by the Titans and reborn. However, in the earliest mention of Zagreus, he is paired with Gaia (Earth) and called the “highest” god [of the underworld?] and Aeschylus links Zagreus with Hades, possibly as Hades' son, or Hades himself. Noting "Hades' identity as Zeus' katachthonios alter ego", Timothy Gantz thought it "likely" that Zagreus, originally, perhaps the son of Hades and Persephone, later merged with the Orphic Dionysus, the son of Zeus and Persephone.

Heliopolis (ancient Egypt) city of ancient Egypt

Heliopolis was a major city of ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptian name of the city was I͗wnw or Iunu. It was the capital of the 13th or Heliopolite Nome of Lower Egypt and a major religious center. It is now located in Ayn Shams, a northeastern suburb of Cairo.

Diodorus Siculus Greek historiographer

Diodorus Siculus or Diodorus of Sicily was a Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica, much of which survives, between 60 and 30 BC. It is arranged in three parts. The first covers mythic history up to the destruction of Troy, arranged geographically, describing regions around the world from Egypt, India and Arabia to Greece and Europe. The second covers the Trojan War to the death of Alexander the Great. The third covers the period to about 60 BC. Bibliotheca, meaning 'library', acknowledges that he was drawing on the work of many other authors.

Menes Founder of Manethos 1st dynasty and unifier of Egypt

Menes was a pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period of ancient Egypt credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt and as the founder of the First Dynasty.

Apries Egyptian pharaoh

Apries is the name by which Herodotus and Diodorus designate Wahibre Haaibre, a pharaoh of Egypt, the fourth king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt. He was equated with the Waphres of Manetho, who correctly records that he reigned for 19 years. Apries is also called Hophra in Jeremiah 44:30.

Late Period of ancient Egypt time period of Ancient Egypt

The Late Period of ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period in the 26th Saite Dynasty founded by Psamtik I, but includes the time of Achaemenid Persian rule over Egypt after the conquest by Cambyses II in 525 BC as well. The Late Period existed from 664 BC until 332 BC, following a period of foreign rule by the Nubian 25th dynasty and beginning with a short period of Neo-Assyrian suzerainty, with Psamtik I initially ruling as their vassal. The Late Period ended with the conquests of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty by his general Ptolemy I Soter, one of the Hellenistic diadochi from Macedon in northern Greece. With the Macedonian Greek conquest in the latter half of the 4th century BC, the age of Hellenistic Egypt began.

Aethiopia geographical term in classical Greek literature for the upper Nile and areas south of the Sahara; mentioned twice in the Iliad, 3 times in the Odyssey; Herodotus uses it to refer to such parts of Africa as were then known within the inhabitable world

Ancient Aethiopia first appears as a geographical term in classical documents in reference to the upper Nile region, as well as certain areas south of the Sahara desert. Its earliest mention is in the works of Homer: twice in the Iliad, and three times in the Odyssey. The Greek historian Herodotus specifically uses the appellation to refer to such parts of Africa as were then known within the inhabitable world.

Heracleion ancient Egyptian city

Heracleion, also known by its Egyptian name Thonis (Θῶνις) and sometimes called Thonis-Heracleion, was an ancient Egyptian city located near the Canopic Mouth of the Nile, about 32 km northeast of Alexandria. Its ruins are located in Abu Qir Bay, currently 2.5 km off the coast, under 10 m (30 ft) of water. A stele found on the site indicates that it was one single city known by both its Egyptian and Greek names. Its legendary beginnings go back to as early as the 12th century BC, and it is mentioned by ancient Greek historians. Its importance grew particularly during the waning days of the Pharaohs.

Battus II of Cyrene, sometimes called Eudaimon or the Latin equivalent Felix, was the third Greek king of Cyrenaica and Cyrene and a member of the Battiad dynasty.

Ladice or Ladice of Cyrene was a Greek Cyrenaean princess and was a member of the Battiad dynasty. She married the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amasis II. When Amasis died in 526 BC, she returned from Egypt back to Cyrene.

<i>Bibliotheca historica</i> world history written by Diodorus Siculus

Bibliotheca historica, is a work of universal history by Diodorus Siculus. It consisted of forty books, which were divided into three sections. The first six books are geographical in theme, and describe the history and culture of Egypt, of Mesopotamia, India, Scythia, and Arabia (II), of North Africa (III), and of Greece and Europe (IV–VI). In the next section, he recounts the history of the world starting with the Trojan War, down to the death of Alexander the Great. The last section concern the historical events from the successors of Alexander down to either 60 BC or the beginning of Caesar's Gallic War in 59 BC. He selected the name "Bibliotheca" in acknowledgement that he was assembling a composite work from many sources. Of the authors he drew from, some who have been identified include: Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius and Posidonius.

Sonchis of Saïs or the Saïte was an Egyptian priest who is mentioned in Greek writings as relating the account of Atlantis. His status as a historical figure is a matter of debate.

Busiris (king of Egypt) king of Egypt in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Busiris was an Egyptian king who was killed by Heracles. It may also refer to the Greek name of a place in Egypt, which in Egyptian was named ḏdw. The location was an important necropolis and a centre for the cult of Osiris, hence name Busiris. The word Busiris was also used to refer to chief god of Busiris, an attribute of Osiris.

References

  1. Mish, Frederick C., Editor in Chief. "Saïs." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary . 9th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985. ISBN   0-87779-508-8, ISBN   0-87779-509-6 (indexed), and ISBN   0-87779-510-X (deluxe).
  2. 1 2 3 Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press, 1995. p.250
  3. Herodotus, II, 171.
  4. Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library "Book V, 57".
  5. Plato, Timaeus.
  6. Plutarch, Isis and Osiris ", ch. 9.
  7. Silverthorne, Elizabeth and Geneva Fulgham (1997). Women Pioneers in Texas Medicine. Texas A&M University Press. pp. xvii. ISBN   978-0-89096-789-8.
Preceded by
Tanis
Capital of Egypt
732 – 720 BC
Succeeded by
Napata/Memphis
Preceded by
Napata/Memphis
Capital of Egypt
664 – 525 BC
Succeeded by
Persepolis(Achaemenid Empire)
Preceded by
Babylon(Achaemenid Empire)
Capital of Egypt
404 – 399 BC
Succeeded by
Mendes