According to legends, around 3000 B.C. the pharaoh Menes founded Memphis – an Egyptian city located south of Cairo. It was the ancient capital of Lower Egypt and thrived as a cultural, commercial, religious and trading hub. The location at the entrance to the Nile River Valley likely made it a natural place for an early settlement.
Memphis was the seat of a far-reaching bureaucracy, enabling King Sneferu to organize the labor force necessary to build the pyramids at Saqqara. Khufu, King Sneferu’s successor, went on to help construct the Great Pyramid at Giza. Memphis grew into prominence alongside Giza, both becoming bustling necropolises.
However, the once-important city was abandoned as the Roman Empire came into prominence. The rise of Christianity around the 4th century A.D. meant fewer visitors to the temples of old Egyptian gods. Consequently, the site fell into disrepair and during the 7th century, the Arabs invaded it. the Egyptians harvested the stones from Memphis’s buildings to help build Cairo and Fustat — the first capital of Muslim Egypt.