(mehm' fihss) Place name meaning, “the abode of the good one.” An ancient capital of Egypt located just south of modern Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River. It was founded by Menes, a pharaoh of the First Dynasty (about 2800 B.C.) and became the capital of Egypt as the Third Dynasty came to power (about 2686 B.C.). For over 300 years Memphis was the principal city of Egypt. Gradually, other cities grew in importance, and Memphis was eclipsed as the seat of power. During later dynasties Thebes and Avaris-Tanis served as the capital. Memphis regained its status as capital during the Hyksos reign (1750-1570) but was replaced when the alien occupation ended.
There remains little, architecturally, to attest to the glory and grandeur once enjoyed by the city. As the Moslems began to build Cairo, they raided the buildings of Memphis for material, even dismantling the temple of Ptah, which probably was the largest and most opulent structure in the city.