Sais, Egypt

Sais, Egypt

Sais or Sa el-Hagar was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile.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).] It was the provincial capital of 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. [Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press, 1995. p.250] Its Ancient Egyptian name was Zau. Sais' "patron goddess was Neith, whose cult is attested as early as the 1st Dynasty." [Shaw & Nicholson, op, cit., p.250]

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. ["The Golden Bough", J. G Frazer, ch39.] Diodorus Siculus attested that it was the Athenians who built Sais before the cataclysm. While all Greek cities were destroyed during the cataclysm, the Egyptian cities including Sais survived. [The Historical Library of Diodorus Siculus, [http://books.google.com/books?id=agd-eLVNRMMC&printsec=titlepage#PPA336,M1 Book V,57] .] Plutarch said that the shrine of 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." ["Isis and Osiris", Plutarch, ch9, retrieved 29 May 2007. [http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html] ] 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". [Shaw & Nicholson, op, cit., p.250]

In Plato's dialogue Timaeus, Sais is the city in which Solon receives the story of Atlantis, its military agression against Greece and Egypt, its eventual defeat and destruction by natural catastrophe, from an Egyptian priest. Plato also notes the city as the birthplace of the pharaoh Amasis II, and identifies the patron deity Neith with the Greek Athene. ["Timaeus", Plato]

References

External links

* [http://www.egyptsites.co.uk/lower/delta/central/saelhagar.html Archeological description of Sais]
* [http://www.dur.ac.uk/penelope.wilson/sais.html Official site at the University of Durham]


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