Concept

Sais, Egypt

Summary
Sais (Σάις, Ⲥⲁⲓ) was an ancient Egyptian city in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile, known by the ancient Egyptians as Sꜣw. It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, 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. On its ruins today stands the town of Sa el-Hagar (صا الحجر) or Sa El Hajar. A Neolithic settlement has been identified at Sais recently (1999), dating to 5000 BC. Agriculture appears here during this period, as well as at another similar site, Merimde Beni Salama, which is located about 80km south of Sais. The Neolithic period at Sais consists of three phases. The earliest phases are Early Neolithic (Sais I) and Late Neolithic (Sais II). During the Early Neolithic, the site started as a fishing camp but later, in the Middle to Late Neolithic Period, it was settled by agriculturalists for the cultivation of the floodplain. The evolution of activity from fish processing to a settled hunting and agricultural phase may be connected to gradual changes in climatic conditions from 4600 BC onwards. It is believed that the Middle Holocene Moist phase started at that time. 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 city's patron goddess was Neith, whose cult is attested as early as the First Dynasty of Egypt (c. 3100–3050 BC). The Greeks, such as Herodotus, Plato, and Diodorus Siculus, identified her with Athena and hence postulated a primordial link to Athens. Diodorus recounts that Athenians built Sais before the deluge. While all Greek cities were destroyed during that cataclysm, including Athens, Sais and the others Egyptian cities survived. 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 mudbrick deposits for use as fertilizer) leaving only a few relief blocks in situ.
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