Before anything existed, Ptah existed. When he decided to create the world—let's face it, a universe full of nothing has got to be boring—he rose out of the waters of creation on a rock or island of new dirt. This spot was called Ta-Tenen, or "the first earth." Ptah never had a mom to yell at him to clean his room… but his room was empty to start with.
Jan 1, 1970
Ptah, South of His Wall
Pharaoh Narmer built a great city and palaces at Mennefer or "beautiful walls" in an area a few miles south of modern Cairo, Egypt. Narmer's name means "the fighting catfish," and his favorite god was Ptah. Mennefer was ancient Egypt's capital for thousands of years. The temple of Ptah (called Hikuptah, the word that becomes "Egypt" in English), was located south of the walls that gave the city its other name, Ineb-hedj or "white walls." The goddess Neith, whose temple was on the other side, is sometimes called "North of Her Wall."
Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970
Pharaoh Raneb of the Second Dynasty founded a temple to a sacred bull. This bull, called Hapi (Apis in Greek) was a mascot for Ptah while it was alive and Osiris after it was dead. Thousands of Apis bulls were mummified and buried in a special mausoleum near Memphis called the Serapeum, and the Apis temples stayed open for more than 2500 years, even after Egypt became a Roman colony. (No bull!)
In the Late New Kingdom of Egypt, when people had a problem, they went to temples to pray about it. There were several temples with "hearing ear shrines," for people to talk directly to the gods. One of the most famous is at the Djeme temple (called Medinet Habu today, on the West Bank of Luxor in southern Egypt), where people could approach a special wall where an image of Ptah was carved, along with lots of pictures of ears. The ears were like magic cell phones—speak to one, and you're talking right to Ptah!
Dec 20, 2019
The Shabaka Stone
The scribes of Shabaka, one of the pharaohs of Dynasty 25, found a very old papyrus in the temple of Ptah at Memphis. It was so old, in fact, that worms were eating it. Shabaka didn't have bug spray, but he had the next best thing: stone carvers who could make a permanent copy of the papyrus on stone. Thankfully, this stone, called the "Shabaka Stone" or the "Memphite Theology," survived, even though thousands of years after it was forgotten in the ruins of Memphis, it was cut up to be used in a mill. Once someone realized there were hieroglyphs on it and they were translated, the Shabaka Stone was taken from Memphis. Today, you can see it on display at the British Museum.
Dec 20, 0090
Ptah in the Bible
The very first verse of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible begins with talking about how the Word of God existed at the beginning of creation. This is just like the story in the Shabaka Stone, when Ptah and his heart (or his wishes) and his tongue (or his words) created the world.
The modern village of Mit Rahina, Egypt is built on top of an ancient treasure—the ruins of the entire city of Ptah, Mennefer or Memphis. If you go there today, you can visit these ruins and a museum of stone statues and other finds. It's just a short drive outside of Cairo. Tell them your mummy (Ptah in his mummified form, whose statues are all over inside the museum grounds) sent you.