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Memphis under Ptolemaic Rule: the high priests of Ptah

The high priests of Ptah ('chief of directors of craft') of the Ptolemaic Period are known from a number of monuments. Inscriptions, mainly on stelae, make it possible to reconstruct the history of the office over three hundred years.

They formed a strong ruling family, occupying many influential priestly positions in Memphis and elsewhere. Their wives also hold important priestly positions, most often musicians. In addition the family had a close relation to the ruling dynasty, the Ptolemies. Some of the Ptolemies were crowned by the high priest of Ptah at Memphis, and the high priests served as scribes in the cult of Arsinoe, which was an important dynastic cult. There are even family relations to the king's house. Psenptais II was married to Berenice who was the daughter of Ptolemy VIII. The office of the high priest of Ptah is last attested in the year 23 BC; it seems not to have been continued under Roman rule.

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