SAIS (Egyptian Sai), an ancient city of the Egyptian Delta, lying westward of the Thermuthiac or Sebennytic branch of the Nile. It was capital of the 5th nome of Lower Egypt and must have been important from remote times. In the 8th century B.C. Sais held the hegemony of the Western Delta, while Bubastite families ruled in the east and the kings of Ethiopia in Upper Egypt. The Ethiopians found their most vigorous opponents in the Saite princes Tefnachthus and his son Bocchoris " the Wise " of the XXIVth Dynasty. After reigning six years the latter is said to have been burnt alive by Sabacon, the founder of the Ethiopian XXVth Dynasty. At the time when invasions by the Assyrians drove out the Ethiopian Taracus again and again, the chief of the twenty princes to whom Esarhaddon and Assur-bani-pal successively entrusted the government was Niku, king of Sais and Memphis. His son Psammetichus (q.v.) was the founder of the XXVIth Dynasty. Although the main seat of government was at Memphis, Sais remained the royal residence throughout this flourishing dynasty. Neith, the goddess of Sais, was identified with Athena, and Osiris was worshipped there in a great festival.
The brick enclosure wall of the temple is still plainly visible near the little village of Sa el hagar (Sa of stone) on the east bank of the Rosetta branch, but the royal tombs and other monuments of Sais, some of which were described by Herodotus, and its inscribed records, have all gone. Only crude brick ruins and rubbish heaps remain on the site, but a few relics conveyed to Alexandria and Europe in the Roman age have come down to our day, notably the inscribed statue of a priest of Neith who was high in favour with Psammetichus III., Cambyses and Darius. Bronze figures of deities are now the most interesting objects to be found at Sa el haear.
(f. LL. G.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)