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Imhotep was a high priest and a doctor in ancient Egypt. Imhotep also became famous as an architect. After his death, because of his attachment with the god Ptah during his work at Ptah's temple stories were spread that said that Ptah was his father. As a god he was often pictured seated, wearing a long kilt robe and a skull cap or a shaven head. He had a papyrus scroll spread on his lap to show his scholarly nature and scribal assistance.
Step pyramid[change | change source]
As an architect Imhotep was most famous because he was the designer of the step pyramid. Before the step pyramid, pharaohs were buried in flat topped structures called mastabas. The term mastaba comes from the word meaning bench because they look like the benches most Egyptians placed outside their door. An average mastaba had four walls, a flat top and an underground burial chamber, reached by a vertical shaft or stairwell. There were also a couple of small rooms above the burial chambers containing various items for the afterlife. The step pyramid was actually just a number of mastabas placed one on top of the other, each one smaller than the previous one.Imhotep was the architect, physician, scribe, and grand vizier of the 3rd-Dynasty pharaoh Zoser. It was Imhotep who conceived and built the Step Pyramid at Sakkara. In the Late Period, Imhotep was worshipped as the son of Ptah and a god of medicine, as well as the patron (with Thoth) of scribes. The Greeks considered him to be Asklepios.
Medical writer[change | change source]
Imhotep’s best-known writings were medical scrolls. He is thought to have written the Edwin Smith papyrus. The papyrus consists of 48 injuries of which 27 are head trauma, and six are spine trauma. Here’s an example for treatment of a head injury:
“Examination: If thou examinest a man having a wound in his head, while his wound does not have two lips, penetrating to the bone of his skull, (but) not having a gash, thou shouldst palpate his wound (or, thou shouldst lay thy hand upon it); shouldst thou find his skull uninjured, not having a perforation; a split, or a smash in it. Treatment: Thou shouldst bind it with fresh meat the first day (and) treat afterwards with grease, honey (and) lint every day until he recovers wound in the head”
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Becoming a god[change | change source]
Around 100 years after his death Imhotep was deified (made into a god). He became the god of medicine and healing. Small temples were built in honor of him. People with injuries would sleep near his temple hoping to be healed. As a god, Imhotep was also worshiped by scribes. Scribes would offer a couple drops of water as a sacrifice to him before starting to write. Even when the Greeks took over, he was identified with another deified man called Asclepius and the Greeks continued to honor and build temples for him. This continued until the Arab invasion in North Africa in the 7th century AD.
References[change | change source]
- Thames and Hudson The Complete Gods and Goddesses Of Ancient Egypt
- Remler, Pat Egyptian mythology A to Z
- Tyldesly, Joyce Egypt
- Freeman, Charles The Legacy of Ancient Egypt
- Nardo, Don Ancient Egypt
- Encyclopedia Britainia