Sais or Sa El Hagar was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. 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. Its Ancient Egyptian name was Zau. 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 1st Dynasty, ca. 3100- 3050 BCE. The Greeks, such as Herodotus, Plato and Diodorus Siculus, identified her with goddess Athena and hence postulated a primordial link to Athens. Diodorus recounts that goddess Athena built Sais before the deluge that supposedly destroyed Athens and Atlantis. While all Greek cities were destroyed during that cataclysm, the Egyptian cities including Sais survived. In Plato 's Timaeus and Critias (around 395 B.C., 200 years after the visit by the Greek legislator Solon), Sais is the city in which Solon (Solon visited Egypt in 590 B.C.) receives the story of Atlantis , its military aggression against Greece and Egypt, its eventual defeat and destruction by gods-punishing catastrophe, from an Egyptian priest. Plato also notes the city as the birthplace of the pharaoh Amasis II. Plutarch said that the shrine of goddess Athena, which he identifies with Isis , in Sais carried the inscription "I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised." 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 mud brick deposits for use as fertilizer) leaving only a few relief blocks in situ. The Temple of Sais had a medical school associated with it, as did many ancient Egyptian temples. The medical school at Sais had many female students and apparently women faculty as well, mainly in gynecology and obstetrics. An inscription from the period survives at Sais, and reads, "I have come from the school of medicine at Heliopolis, and have studied at the woman's school at Sais, where the divine mothers have taught me how to cure diseases". Sonchis of Saïs or the Saïte (fl. 594 BC) was an Egyptian priest who is mentioned in Greek writings as relating the account of Atlantis. His status as a historical figure is a matter of debate. The Platonic dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written around 360 BC, relate (through the voice of Critias) how the Athenian statesman Solon (638–558 BC) traveled to Egypt and in the city of Saïs encountered the priests of the goddess Neith. A very aged priest tells him that 9,000 years earlier, Athens had been in conflict with the great power of Atlantis, which was then destroyed in a catastrophe. Plato's dialogue does not mention a name for the priest, but Plutarch (46–120 AD), in his Life of Solon identified the aged priest as Sonchis: “ Near Nilus' mouth, by fair Canopus' shores, and spent some time in study with Psenophis of Heliopolis, and Sonchis the Saïte, the most learned of all the priests; from whom, as Plato says, getting knowledge of the Atlantic story, he put it into a poem, and proposed to bring it to the knowledge of the Greeks.” Plutarch gives a more detailed description on the Greek philosophers who visited Egypt and received advice by the Egyptian priests in his book On Isis and Osiris. Thus, Thales, Eudoxus, Solon, Pythagoras, (some say Lycurgus also) and Plato, traveled into Egypt and conversed with the priests. Eudoxus was instructed by Chonupheus of Memphis , Solon by Sonchis of Saïs and Pythagoras by Oenuphis of Heliopolis. The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (also written Dynasty XXVI or Dynasty 26) was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC (although others followed). The dynasty's reign (664–525 BC) is also called the Saite Period after the city of Sais, where its pharaohs had their capital, and marks the beginning of the Late Period of ancient Egypt. This dynasty traced its origins to the 24th Dynasty. Psamtik I was probably a descendant of Bakenrenef , and following the Assyrians ' invasions during the reigns of Taharqa and Tantamani, he was recognized as sole king over all of Egypt. While the Assyrian Empire was preoccupied with revolts and civil war over control of the throne, Psammetichus threw off his ties to the Assyrians, and formed alliances with Gyges, king of Lydia, and recruited mercenaries from Caria and Greece to resist Assyrian attacks. With the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC and the fall of the Assyrian Empire, both Psamtik and his successors attempted to reassert Egyptian power in the Near East, but were driven back by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II. With the help of Greek mercenaries, Apries was able to hold back Babylonian attempts to conquer Egypt, only for the Persians to eventually do so. Their king, Cambyses II, captured and later executed Psamtik III. Amasis II or Ahmose II was a pharaoh (reigned 570 BCE – 526 BCE) of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt , the successor of Apries at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest. Most of our information about him is derived from Herodotus and can only be imperfectly verified by monumental evidence. According to the Greek historian, he was of common origins. He was originally an officer in the Egyptian army. His birthplace was Siuph at Saïs. He took part in a general campaign of Pharaoh Psamtik II in 592 BC in Nubia. A revolt which broke out among native Egyptian soldiers gave him his opportunity to seize the throne. These troops, returning home from a disastrous military expedition to Cyrene in Libya, suspected that they had been betrayed in order that Apries, the reigning king, might rule more absolutely by means of his Greek mercenaries ; many Egyptians fully sympathized with them. General Amasis, sent to meet them and quell the revolt, was proclaimed king by the rebels instead, and Apries, who had now to rely entirely on his mercenaries, was defeated. Apries fled to the Babylonians and was killed mounting an invasion of his native homeland in 567 BCE with the aid of a Babylonian army. An inscription confirms the struggle between the native Egyptian and the foreign soldiery, and proves that Apries was killed and honourably buried in the third year of Amasis (c. 567 BCE). Amasis then married Chedebnitjerbone II, one of the daughters of his predecessor Apries, in order to legitimise his kingship. Some information is known about the family origins of Amasis: his mother was a certain Tashereniset, as a bust of her, today located in the British Museum, shows. A stone block from Mehallet el-Kubra also establishes that his maternal grandmother—Tashereniset's mother—was a certain Tjenmutetj. His court is relatively well known. The head of the gate guard Ahmose-sa-Neith appears on numerous monuments, including the location of his sarcophagus. He was referenced on monuments of the 30th dynasty and apparently had a special significance in his time. Wahibre was 'Leader of the southern foreigners' and 'Head of the doors of foreigners', so he was the highest official for border security. Under Amasis the career of the doctor Udjahorresnet began, who was of particular importance to the Persians. Several "heads of the fleet" are known. Psamtek Meryneit and Pasherientaihet / Padineith are the only known viziers. Herodotus describes how Amasis II would eventually cause a confrontation with the Persian armies. According to Herodotus, Amasis was asked by Cambyses II or Cyrus the Great for an Egyptian ophthalmologist on good terms. Amasis seems to have complied by forcing an Egyptian physician into mandatory labor, causing him to leave his family behind in Egypt and move to Persia in forced exile. In an attempt to exact revenge for this, the physician would grow very close to Cambyses and would suggest that Cambyses should ask Amasis for a daughter in marriage in order to solidify his bonds with the Egyptians. Cambyses complied and requested a daughter of Amasis for marriage. Amasis, worrying that his daughter would be a concubine to the Persian king, refused to give up his offspring; Amasis also was not willing to take on the Persian empire, so he concocted a deception in which he forced the daughter of the ex-pharaoh Apries , whom Herodotus explicitly confirms to have been killed by Amasis, to go to Persia instead of his own offspring. This daughter of Apries was none other than Nitetis, who was as per Herodotus's account, "tall and beautiful." Nitetis naturally betrayed Amasis and upon being greeted by the Persian king explained Amasis's trickery and her true origins. This infuriated Cambyses and he vowed to take revenge for it. Amasis would die before Cambyses reached him, but his heir and son Psamtik III would be defeated by the Persians. First, Cambyses signed alliance agreements with the Lydian King Croesus and Nabonidus the Babylonian king in 542 BC. The actual aim of the agreements was to prevent aid between Egypt and her allies. With both now deprived of Egyptian support, the Persians conquered, first, Croesus's empire in 541 BCE, and, then, the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 539 BCE. Herodotus also describes that just like his predecessor, Amasis II relied on Greek mercenaries and council men. One such figure was Phanes of Halicarnassus , who would later on leave Amasis, for reasons Herodotus does not clearly know but suspects were personal between the two figures. Amasis would send one of his eunuchs to capture Phanes, but the eunuch is bested by the wise council man and Phanes flees to Persia, meeting up with Cambyses providing advice in his invasion of Egypt. Egypt would finally be lost to the Persians during the battle of Pelusium. Although Amasis appears first as champion of the disparaged native, he had the good sense to cultivate the friendship of the Greek world , and brought Egypt into closer touch with it than ever before. Herodotus relates that under his prudent administration, Egypt reached a new level of wealth; Amasis adorned the temples of Lower Egypt especially with splendid monolithic shrines and other monuments (his activity here is proved by existing remains). For example, a temple built by him was excavated at Tell Nebesha.Amasis assigned the commercial colony of Naucratis on the Canopic branch of the Nile to the Greeks, and when the temple of Delphi was burnt, he contributed 1,000 talents to the rebuilding. He also married a Greek princess named Ladice daughter of King Battus III and made alliances with Polycrates of Samos and Croesus of Lydia. Under Amasis, Egypt's agricultural based economy reached its zenith. His kingdom consisted probably of Egypt only, as far as the First Cataract , but to this he added Cyprus, and his influence was great in Cyrene. In his fourth year (c. 567 BCE), Amasis was able to defeat an invasion of Egypt by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II ; henceforth, the Babylonians experienced sufficient difficulties controlling their empire that they were forced to abandon future attacks against Amasis. However, Amasis was later faced with a more formidable enemy with the rise of Persia under Cyrus who ascended to the throne in 559 BCE; his final years were preoccupied by the threat of the impending Persian onslaught against Egypt. With great strategic skill, Cyrus had destroyed Lydia in 546 BCE and finally defeated the Babylonians in 538 BCE which left Amasis with no major Near Eastern allies to counter Persia's increasing military might. Amasis reacted by cultivating closer ties with the Greek states to counter the future Persian invasion into Egypt but was fortunate to have died in 526 BCE shortly before the Persians attacked. The final assault instead fell upon his son Psamtik III , whom the Persians defeated in 525 BCE after a reign of only six months. Amasis II died in 526 BC. He was buried at the royal necropolis of Sais, and while his tomb was never discovered. Naucratis , or Naukratis "naval victory", Piemro in Egyptian , now Kom Gieif ), was a city of Ancient Egypt , on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, and 45 mi (72 km) southeast of the open sea and Alexandria. It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Greek colony in Egypt; it was a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Greek and Egyptian art and culture. The modern site of the city has become an archaeological find of the highest significance and the source of not only many beautiful objects of art now gracing the museums of the world but also an important source of some of the earliest Greek writing in existence, from the inscriptions on its pottery. The sister port of Naucratis was the harbour town of Thonis/ Heracleion, which was undiscovered until 2000. In 570 BC the Pharaoh Apries (Wahibre, reigned 589-570 BC) led the descendants of this mercenary army made up of 30,000 Carians and Ionians against a former general turned rebel by the name of Amasis. Although fighting valiantly they suffered defeat and Amasis II became Pharaoh (reigned 570-526 BC). Amasis shut down the "camps" and moved the Greek soldiers to Memphis where they were employed "to guard him against the native Egyptians ." Herodotus: "Amasis was partial to the Greeks, and among other favors which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in Egypt the city of Naucratis for their residence." Notice that he says "gave the city (polis)" which seems to indicate the existence (now born out by archaeological evidence) of a "city" already there. This older city, settlement more likely, was no doubt small and inhabited by a mix of native Egyptians, Greeks and possibly even Phoenicians. Thus it seems the city was turned over to the Greeks, "chartered", in the years immediately following 570 BC. The earlier date of c. 625 BC put forward by archaeologists may be the actual establishment of a settlement at the site. Amasis indeed converted Naucratis into a major treaty-port and commercial link with the west. This was done most likely as a means to contain the Greeks and concentrate their activities in one place under his control. It became not the colony of any particular city-state but an emporion (trading post) similar to Al Mina, the largest market port of north Syria. According to Herodotus the walled shrine known as the Hellenion was a co-operative enterprise financed by nine eastern Greek cities: Four Ionian: Chios, Klazomenai, Teos and Phocaea. Four Dorian: Rhodes, Halicarnassus, Knidos and Phaselis. One Aeolian: Mytilene. Miletus, Samos and Aegina had their own separate sanctuaries. Thus the natives of at least twelve Greek city-states worked in a collaboration that was not only rare but proved to be lasting. Naucratis later became an important center of Greek culture under the Roman Empire, producing several celebrated orators of the Second Sophistic in the second and early third centuries AD. The third century writer Athenaeus came from Naucratis. The Egyptians supplied the Greeks with mostly grain but also linen and papyrus while the Greeks bartered mostly silver but also timber, olive oil and wine. Naukratis, and the associated Greek "forts" in the general delta area, as demonstrated by accounts given above, became a ready source of mercenary fighting men for the Saite pharaohs, men with superior hoplite armor and tactics, and also possessing invaluable naval expertise. Naucratis soon became a profound source of inspiration to the Greeks by re-exposing them to the wonders of Egyptian architecture and sculpture lost to them since the Bronze Age. Egyptian artifacts soon began their flow along the Greek trade routes finding their way into the homes and workshops of the Ionian Greek world and, via Aegina, the city-states of mainland Greece. Although Greek art and ideas in turn came back the other way their absorption into a largely xenophobic Egyptian culture was strictly minimal. Although Herodotus claimed that geometry (γεωμετρία) was first known in Egypt and then passed into Greece it is now generally accepted by scholars that what the Greeks learned were more like "surveying techniques" and hardly deserve the designation "geometry" in the sense of a purely intellectual mathematical practice. Indeed, Greeks like Thales were already accomplished geometricians before their travel to Egypt and very likely Herodotus assumed that because the Egyptian γεωμετρία was older, the Greeks must have got it from there. In terms of our modern understanding of the Greeks, and in particular the early use of their nascent Greek alphabet, the finds of Naucratis have turned out to be foundational. "The inscriptions on the pottery have yielded what Mr. Ernest Gardner considers - apparently on firm grounds - to be the oldest Ionic inscriptions, as well as some in the Korinthian, Melian, and Lesbian alphabets." Of particular interest are the several examples of an evolutionary variation from the original Phoenician alphabetic script. Much has also been learned by comparing these alphabets with the forms they assumed a century later, forms that were destined to become universal across the Hellenic world. Naucratis was not only the first Greek settlement in Egypt but also Egypt's most important harbor in antiquity until the rise of Alexandria and the shifting of the Nile led to its decline. Nevertheless, the ancient city of Heracleion/Thonis also rivalled Naucratis as an important port city of Egypt, especially from the 6th to the 4th century BC.