Tombs of the Saites

[Palm Capital] Chapter 169 (part 2 of 2). Apries is killed and buried with his ancestors in the Temple of Athena in Sais. Athena is here identified with Neith (Nit), described as joyous, and Mother of the Sun, possibly because of Neith's symbol of crossed arrows on a shield. However, it could be a temple of Isis, as suggested by the contents of the next two chapters. Isis was worshipped everywhere in Egypt, but Neith, Bastis, and Hathor were more local. It is very difficult to identify Egyptian goddesses specifically with Demeter, Athena, or Aphrodite. Perhaps the temple would be best described as sacred to Isis/Neith. Herodotus sees Amasis's tomb here, a little farther from the sanctuary, but in a magnificent colonnade that he describes. A typical palm leaf capital from an Egyptian temple is shown at the right. Sadly, nothing has been found of the remains of the temple or the tombs of Sais. When Cambyses, a thoroughly nasty Persian, overran Egypt shortly after Amasis' death, he abused Amasis' mummy and finally impiously burnt it, on account of some earlier affront that is revealed in Book III. Persians detested Egyptian religion, and damaged its monuments everywhere.



There are many interesting words in this selection, dealing with temples and architectural objects. The word phoenix can mean a Phoenician, a dark red color (discovered by the Phoenicians), a date palm, a date, a Phoenician guitar, or the rare bird, and can be a noun or an adjective, as you wish.

They strangled him, and then buried [him] in the tombs of his forefathers. These are in the Temple of Athena, near the sanctuary, being on the left hand. The Saites bury all the kings born in this district within the sacred precincts. The tomb of Amasis is a little farther from the sanctuary than those of Apries and his ancestors, but nevertheless it is within the temple, a great stone colonnade adorned with columns imitating date palm trees, and other extravagances. Within the colonnade is located a room with double doors, [and] the sarcophagus is within these doors.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 6 July 1999