The city of Memphis was located at the beginning of the Nile River Delta and was the capital of the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt for about 500 years in the 3rd millennium BCE.
The pyramids of Giza are where they are because the kings of the Old Kingdom wanted their tombs to be near the ancient capital, Memphis. Today, many of the ruins and artifacts from once grand city can be found in the collection of the Memphis Open-Air Museum.
The Open-Air Museum’s best known artifact is it’s colossal statue of Ramesees II. The statue is displayed near to where it was found in the exact position in which it was found — lying down on its back. Standing up, it would be over 30 feet tall. The statue can be viewed from the ground level or from the platform above.
Head of Goddess Hathor
Hathor was the Egyptian goddess of love, fertility and music. She was often represented as a cow — in this statue she was a beautiful woman with the ears of a cow. We’ll see an entire temple dedicated to her at Abydos.
My favorite piece at the museum was this red granite sarcophagus lid because of its incredible carvings. In the foreground are the wings of the goddess Nut, which are spread wide as a symbol of the protection she provides. Nut was believed to be the mother of all gods, the sky goddess and the goddess of death. She is commonly found on sarcophagi because of the important role that she played in the afterlife — according to ancient Egyptian belief, the dead were swallowed by Nut every day at dusk, travelled through her body during the night and were reborn every morning.