Memphis became the capital of Ancient Egypt for over eight consecutive dynasties during the Old Kingdom. The city reached a peak of prestige under the 6th dynasty as a centre for the worship of Ptah, the god of creation and artworks. The alabaster sphinx that guards the Temple of Ptah serves as a memorial of the city's former power and prestige. The Memphis triad, consisting of the creator god Ptah, his consort Sekhmet, and their son Nefertem, formed the main focus of worship in the city.
Memphis declined briefly after the 18th dynasty with the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, and was revived under the Persians before falling firmly into second place following the foundation of Alexandria. Under the Roman Empire, Alexandria remained the most important city. Memphis remained the second city of Egypt until the establishment of Fustat (or Fostat) in 641 CE. It was then largely abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements. It was still an imposing set of ruins in the 12th century but soon became a little more than an expanse of low ruins and scattered stone.
The legend recorded by Manetho was that Menes, the first pharaoh to unite the Two Lands, established his capital on the banks of the Nile by diverting the river with dikes. The Greek historian Herodotus, who tells a similar story, relates that during his visit to the city, the Persians, at that point the suzerains of the country, paid particular attention to the condition of these dams so that the city was saved from the annual flooding. Herodotus dates the founding of the city at around 3100 BC, over 2500 years prior to his visit.
It has been theorised that Menes was possibly a mythical king, similar to Romulus and Remus of Rome. Some scholars suggest that Egypt most likely became unified through mutual need, developing cultural ties and trading partnerships, although that the first capital of united Egypt was the city of Memphis is