BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “For much of its history Memphis was the first city of Egypt. Founded shortly before 3000 b.c., it was the Old Kingdom capital of the country from the time of the union of the two lands, serving as royal residence from the early second dynasty (from c. 2890 to 2173 b.c.). In a nodal position some 40 kilometers south of the Delta apex, Memphis lay at a key point on the Nile, the main artery of the country.”

Memphis Under the Ptolemies: Second Edition
by Dorothy J. Thompson

Drawing on archaeological findings and an unusual combination of Greek and Egyptian evidence, Dorothy Thompson examines the economic life and multicultural society of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis in the era between Alexander and Augustus. Now thoroughly revised and updated, this masterful account is essential reading for anyone interested in ancient Egypt or the Hellenistic world.

The relationship of the native population with the Greek-speaking immigrants is illustrated in Thompson’s analysis of the position of Memphite priests within the Ptolemaic state. Egyptians continued to control mummification and the cult of the dead; the undertakers of the Memphite necropolis were barely touched by things Greek. The cult of the living Apis bull also remained primarily Egyptian; yet on death the bull, deified as Osorapis, became Sarapis for the Greeks. Within this god’s sacred enclosure, the Sarapieion, is found a strange amalgam of Greek and Egyptian cultures.

“[A] masterful analysis of the surviving evidence for ancient Memphis.”—John F. Oates, American Journal of Philology

“[A] book of utmost importance to all readers interested in ancient civilizations. . . . Thompson’s concentration on the Hellenistic period provides a penetrating study of all aspects of this city from the time of Alexander to Augustus.”—C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Choice

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9703.pdf