Ancient Egyptian: Jj m ḥtp
|Burial place||Saqqara (probable)|
|Other names||Asclepius (name in Greek) Imouthes (also name in Greek)|
|Occupation(s)||chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser and High Priest of Ra|
|Years active||c. 27th century BC|
|Known for||Being the architect of Djoser's step pyramid|
|Imhotep in hieroglyphs|
Jj m ḥtp
He who comes in peace
Jj m ḥtp
Jj m ḥtp
Eusebius, AV: missing
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Traditions from long after Imhotep's death treated him as a great author of wisdom texts and especially as a physician. No text from his lifetime mentions these capacities and no text mentions his name in the first 1,200 years following his death. Apart from the three short contemporary inscriptions that establish him as chancellor to the Pharaoh, the first text to reference Imhotep dates to the time of Amenhotep III (c. 1391–1353 BC). It is addressed to the owner of a tomb, and reads:
The wab-priest may give offerings to your ka. The wab-priests may stretch to you their arms with libations on the soil, as it is done for Imhotep with the remains of the water bowl.— Wildung (1977)
It appears that this libation to Imhotep was done regularly, as they are attested on papyri associated with statues of Imhotep until the Late Period (c. 664–332 BC). Wildung (1977)
The first references to the healing abilities of Imhotep occur from the Thirtieth Dynasty (c. 380–343 BC) onward, some 2,200 years after his death.: 127 : 44
Imhotep is among the few non-royal Egyptians who were deified after their deaths, and until the 21st century, he was one of nearly a dozen non-royals to achieve this status. The center of his cult was in Memphis. The location of his tomb remains unknown, despite efforts to find it. The consensus is that it is hidden somewhere at Saqqara.
Imhotep's historicity is confirmed by two contemporary inscriptions made during his lifetime on the base or pedestal of one of Djoser's statues (Cairo JE 49889) and also by a graffito on the enclosure wall surrounding Sekhemkhet's unfinished step pyramid. The latter inscription suggests that Imhotep outlived Djoser by a few years and went on to serve in the construction of Pharaoh Sekhemkhet's pyramid, which was abandoned due to this ruler's brief reign.
Architecture and engineering
Imhotep was one of the chief officials of the
God of medicine
Two thousand years after his death, Imhotep's status had risen to that of a god of medicine and
He was revered in the region of Thebes as the "brother" of Amenhotep, son of Hapu – another deified architect – in the temples dedicated to Thoth.: v3, p104 Because of his association with health, the Greeks equated Imhotep with Asklepios, their own god of health who also was a deified mortal.
According to myth, Imhotep's mother was a mortal named Kheredu-ankh, she too being eventually revered as a demi-goddess as the daughter of Banebdjedet. Alternatively, since Imhotep was known as the "Son of Ptah",: v?, p106 [volume & issue needed] his mother was sometimes claimed to be Sekhmet, the patron of Upper Egypt whose consort was Ptah.
The Upper Egyptian Famine Stela, which dates from the Ptolemaic period (305–30 BC), bears an inscription containing a legend about a famine lasting seven years during the reign of Djoser. Imhotep is credited with having been instrumental in ending it. One of his priests explained the connection between the god Khnum and the rise of the Nile to the Pharaoh, who then had a dream in which the Nile god spoke to him, promising to end the drought.
A demotic papyrus from the temple of Tebtunis, dating to the 2nd century AD, preserves a long story about Imhotep. The Pharaoh Djoser plays a prominent role in the story, which also mentions Imhotep's family; his father the god Ptah, his mother Khereduankh, and his younger sister Renpetneferet. At one point Djoser desires Renpetneferet, and Imhotep disguises himself and tries to rescue her. The text also refers to the royal tomb of Djoser. Part of the legend includes an anachronistic battle between the Old Kingdom and the Assyrian armies where Imhotep fights an Assyrian sorceress in a duel of magic.
As an instigator of Egyptian culture, Imhotep's idealized image lasted well into the
In popular culture
Imhotep is the antagonistic title character of Universal's 1932 film The Mummy, its 1999 remake, and that film's 2001 sequel.
Imhotep was also portrayed in the television show
- Imhotep Museum
- History of ancient Egypt
- Ancient Egyptian architecture
- Ancient Egyptian medicine
- List of Egyptian Architects
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