Saïs was a city on the Nile delta that, according to archaeology, existed at least from 3000 BC. Diodorus Siculus claimed that Saïs had been built by the Athenians before the flood of Deucalion (Histories 5.57). The present settlement is called Sa el Hagar. The Septuagint version of the Bible identifies Saïs with Pelusium, mentioned in Ezekiel 30:12-15. During the 7th century BC it became the capital of the pharaohs of the 26th Dynasty.
Saïs is the Egyptian city where Solon originally learned of the story of Atlantis. It housed the principal shrine of the Egyptian goddess Neith who has been identified with Athene. The Greek writer Charax of Pergamon (c. 200 AD) reflected this connection when he wrote that the citizens of Saïs referred to themselves as Athenai and Diodorus Siculus states that the Athenians claim to have originally come from Saïs. There is an ancient if disputed, tale that Cecrops, the first king of Athens established the city with colonists from Saïs.
This of course conflicts with Plato, who, in Timaeus (23e) informs us that the city of Saïs (not Egypt, as some assume) was founded one thousand years after the city of Athens or 8,000 years before Solon’s visit. This, however, creates a problem, as it suggests that Athens was established at the same time that it fought and defeated a powerful invader!
No remains of the temples, with their celebrated inscribed pillars, have as yet been discovered. However, excavations are proceeding under the sponsorship of the Egypt Exploration Society and the University of Durham led by Dr Penelope Wilson(b).
>A 2021 article(c) reviewing the history of Saïs noted that “The city enjoyed a high period under the 26th Dynasty Kings (664-525), who made Sais their Capital until the Persian invasion of Cambyses. It continued to exist down into the Ptolemaic and Roman periods BC. In the last two thousand years, however, Sais declined and was largely forgotten, its temples and walls demolished, its remains pilfered. Today nothing much remains except a tiny village called Sa el-Hagar, some garbage heaps and a few scattered ruins.”<
The whole matter of the relevance of Saïs to the Atlantis story has been challenged by a theory on the Internet(a) that Saïs and Tanis were in fact the same location. A starting point is the fact that the current village of Sa el Hagar adjacent to the ruins of Saïs has a counterpart at Tanis where there is a village called San el Hagar. Drawing on the writings of Strabo, Herodotus and the Bible some have concluded that the two cities were one. Immanuel Velikovsky proposed this idea in his Ramses II and His Time[832.209].