Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km south of Giza.
According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history. It occupied a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile delta, and was home to feverish activity. Its principal port, Peru-nefer, harboured a high density of workshops, factories, and warehouses that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom. During its golden age, Memphis thrived as a regional centre for commerce, trade, and religion.
Memphis was believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen. Its great temple, Hut-ka-Ptah, was one of the most prominent structures in the city. The name of this temple, rendered in Greek as Aί-γυ-πτoς by the historian Manetho, is believed to be the etymological origin of the modern English name Egypt.
The history of Memphis is closely linked to that of the country itself.