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The Palaces

Memphis - Capital Cities

The word Palace can be construed to mean something different to the Ancient Egyptians than we would use it for today. Today, we usually refer to a Palace meaning a home for the Royal Family where they may entertain other Royalty and Dignitaries, but primarily the Royal Family will live or at the very least retain a large set of rooms within the Palace to use for living within.

Ancient Egypt seem to have used the “Palace” as:-

  • A defensive structure which today we would refer to as a Fort or Castle that would hold meetings rooms rather than rooms for Royal or Noble guests
  • A home for the Pharaoh and their Royal Family
  • A Cult Centre that was used for ceremonial functions only
  • A home for a person or persons of authority; such as the Viziers
  • A part of a structure: the Palace would host the Royals whilst other parts of the structure would be used for Military, Religious or purely ceremonial matters

There is a train of thought that as the Palaces could be erected in a relatively short amount of time and were erected out of basic mud brick, and then highly decorated, that the “Palaces” could have often been built and then abandoned quite quickly by today’s comparisons. Meaning that many of these could be overlooked or misinterpreted by archaeology as being for other uses. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Pharaoh’s and other Royals rooms were not as substantial as you may imagine them to be.

A mudbrick building with fairly small rooms? It could be reasonably easy to overlook.

Memphis was the Capital City for 8 Dynasties throughout Ancient Egypt and as such is thought to contain numerous Palaces. The ones that Egyptologists know of are:-

  • Pharaoh Hor-Aha’s Palace, mentioned by Manetho but never conclusively located, this Palace was thought to be defensive and may have begun the “white walls” tradition
  • Palace of Pharaoh Merenptah – see plan below – which held only modest rooms for the Pharaoh so Egyptologists have assumed that this was not the main Royal Residence but rather a Palace for Ceremonial uses
  • Maybe a further Palace of Pharaoh Merenptah was ordered according to official texts which included a large Walled Enclosure which would also house a new Temple Complex and an adjoining Palace
  • Pharaoh Thutmose I’s Palace which was reported to have been in use approx. 100 years later in the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose IV
  • Palace of Pharaoh Apries erected on a ridge overlooking Memphis itself at Kom Tuman. It was meant to have held a Fortress; Barracks, Armouries as well as the Royal Palace – see Photo to the left 

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