|Imhotep in hieroglyphs|
Jj m ḥtp
He who comes in peace
Jj m ḥtp
Jj m ḥtp
|Greek Manetho variants:||
Eusebius, AV: missing
Imhotep (sometimes spelled Immutef, Im-hotep, or Ii-em-Hotep; called Imuthes (Ἰμούθης) by the Greeks), fl. 27th century BC (circa 2650–2600 BC) (Egyptian ỉỉ-m-ḥtp *jā-im-ḥātap meaning "the one who comes in peace, is with peace"), was an Egyptian polymath, who served under the Third Dynasty king Djoser as chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest of the sun god Ra (or Re) at Heliopolis. He is considered to be the first architect and engineer and physician in early history though two other good physicians, Hesy-Ra and Merit-Ptah lived around the same time. The full list of his titles is:
- Chancellor of the King of Egypt, Doctor, First in line after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary nobleman, High Priest of Heliopolis, Builder, Chief Carpenter, Chief Sculptor, and Maker of Vases in Chief.
Imhotep was one of very few mortals to be depicted as part of a pharaoh's statue. He was one of only a few commoners ever to be accorded divine status after death. The center of his cult was Memphis. From the First Intermediate Period onward Imhotep was also revered as a poet and philosopher. His sayings were famously referred to in poems: "I have heard the words of Imhotep and Hordedef with whose discourses men speak so much."
The location of Imhotep's self-constructed tomb was well hidden from the beginning and it 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 king Sekhemkhet's pyramid which was abandoned due to this ruler's brief reign.
The preservation of the kings body was very important to Imhotep, like the conservation of the nation was a responsibility. As a priest who knew all ancient practices and rules, it was a given that he had mastered the understanding of the nature of building. Amongst other values, for Imhotep, it meant definiteness.
Although not certain, it has been believed that during a 40 year period of the Third Dynasty, Imhotep influenced and was the ultimate master builder of numerous other projects which have been finished. He wrote an encyclopedia of architecture that was used as the main bases and as guidance for Egyptian builders thousands of years after his death.
Imhotep was an important figure in Ancient Egyptian medicine. He was the author of a medical treatise remarkable for being devoid of magical thinking; the so-called Edwin Smith papyrus containing anatomical observations, ailments, and cures. The surviving papyrus was probably written around 1700 BC but may be a copy of texts a thousand years older. However, this attribution of authorship is speculative. The Papyrus can be viewed at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, New York City. The 48 cases contained within the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus concern:
- 27 head injuries (cases #1-27)
- 6 throat and neck injuries (cases #28-33)
- 2 injuries to the clavicle (collarbone) (cases #34-35)
- 3 injuries to the arm (cases #36-38)
- 8 injuries to the sternum (breastbone) and ribs (cases #39-44)
- 1 tumour and 1 abscess of the breast (cases #45-46)
- 1 injury to the shoulder (case #47)
- 1 injury to the spine (case #48) 
Descriptions of Imhotep by James Henry Breasted et al. :
"In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs; in medicine and architecture; this remarkable figure of Zoser's reign left so notable a reputation that his name was never forgotten. He was the patron spirit of the later scribes, to whom they regularly poured out a libation from the water-jug of their writing outfit before beginning their work." '
'Imhotep extracted medicine from plants.'
'Imhotep was portrayed as a priest with a shaven head, seated and holding a papyrus roll. Occasionally he was shown clothed in the archaic costume of a priest.'
'Of the details of his life, very little has survived though numerous statues and statuettes of him have been found. Some show him as an ordinary man who is dressed in plain attire. Others show him as a sage who is seated on a chair with a roll of papyrus on his knees or under his arm. Later, his statuettes show him with a god like beard, standing, and carrying the ankh and a scepter.'
'He is represented seated with a papyrus scroll across his knees, wearing a skullcap and a long linen kilt. We can interpret the papyrus as suggesting the sources of knowledge kept by scribes in the "House of Life". The headgear identifies Imhotep with Ptah, and his priestly linen garment symbolizes his religious purity.'
Birth myths 
According to myth, Imhotep's mother was a mortal named Kheredu-ankh, elevated later to semi-divine status by claims that she was the daughter of Banebdjedet. Conversely, since Imhotep was known as the "Son of Ptah," his mother was sometimes claimed to be Sekhmet, the patron of Upper Egypt whose consort was Ptah. Also according to myths, his father was also an architect and was named Kanofer.
Two thousand years after his death, Imhotep's status was raised to that of a deity of medicine and healing. He was identified or confused with Thoth, the god of architecture, mathematics, medicine and patron of the scribes, having Imhotep's cult merging with that of his former tutelary god. Taking this into consideration, he was thus associated with Amenhotep son of Hapu, who was another deified architect, in the region of Thebes where they were worshipped as "brothers" in temples dedicated to Thoth and later in Hermopolis following the syncretist concept of Hermes-Thot, a concept that led to another syncretic belief, that of Hermes Trismegistus and hermeticism. Imhotep was also linked to Asklepios by the Greeks.
In Ancient Egypt, Imhotep was considered to be an example of "personality cult" of Kemet, the notion that a person can be deified after his death and become some sort of a special intercessor for the living. Nonetheless, the conditions of Imhotep’s death are unknown. The mystery behind his death is amplified as his disappearance coincided with the disappearance of all his medical texts and architectural manuscripts. His tomb has never been found.
In addition, despite his major impact on Ancient Egyptian architecture and field of medicine, even ancient historians failed to write about him, which adds to his mystery. What makes this mystery somewhat ironic is that the name "Imhotep" in Ancient Egyptian language translates to “He who came in peace,” underlining the way he came into the world, made his impact, and left it in peace taking all his genius work with him. However, Imhotep became even more famous with his death and was worshipped for 2,000 years afterwards. Because of the mystery behind his death, he was considered as a demi-god. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the god of medicine, therefore, Imhotep was often associated with him. Some even believed that he was Asclepius himself. Only statues made of him remained which referred to his genius mind and served to illustrate his existence on earth. After his death, he was known to be responsible for the use of columns and monumental stone in Egyptian architecture and considered to have fully advanced ancient Egyptian medicine. Nevertheless, he slowly turned into a legend and then a myth.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep's reputation was very respected in early times ... His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical teachings."
It is Imhotep, says Sir William Osler, who was the real "Father of Medicine", "the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity." 
Imhotep's dreams 
The Upper Egyptian Famine Stela, dating from the Ptolemaic period, bears an inscription containing a legend about a famine of 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 king, who then had a dream in which the Nile god spoke to him, promising to end the drought.
These dreams are another factor which has led some scholars to associate Imhotep with the Biblical figure of Joseph.
The Life of Imhotep: an ancient story about Djoser and Imhotep 
A papyrus from the ancient Egyptian temple of Tebtunis, dating to the 2nd century AD, preserves a long story in the demotic script about Imhotep. King Djoser plays a prominent role in the story, which also mentions Imhotep's family; his father the god Ptah, his mother Khereduankh, and his little-sister Renpetneferet. At one point Djoser desires the young Renpetnefereret, and Imhotep disguises himself and tries to rescue her. The text also refers to the royal tomb of Djoser by which the Step Pyramid must be meant. An anachronistic detail is a battle between the Egyptian and Assyrian armies where Imhotep fights an Assyrian sorceress in a duel of magic.
In popular culture 
- In modern times, the historical figure lent his name to Imhotep, the title character of the 1932 film The Mummy and its 1999 remake along with a sequel.
- "Imhotep" is the title of a video game.
- Imhotep features in the British comedy television series Look Around You. He is depicted as an invisible Moai.
- In 2010 Marvel Comics series S.H.I.E.L.D., Imhotep was the man who formed the very first version of the titular intelligence organisation.
- In the 2006 French spy comedy OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, and in Alain Chabat's Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002) (also a French comedy), imhotep is used in an indiscriminate manner to mean all kinds of things.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Imhotep|
- History of ancient Egypt
- Third dynasty of Egypt
- Ancient Egyptian architecture
- Ancient Egyptian medicine
- The Egyptian Building Mania, Acta Divrna, Vol. III, Issue IV, January, 2004.
- "What is Civil Engineering: Imhotep".
- William Osler, The Evolution of Modern Medicine, Kessinger Publishing 2004, p.12
- Barry J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt Routledge 2005, p.159
- The Harper's Lay, ca. 2000 BCE
- Jaromir Malek 'The Old Kingdom' in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw (ed.) Oxford University Press paperback 2002. p.92
- J. Kahl "Old Kingdom: Third Dynasty" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt by Donald Redford (ed.) Vol.2, p. 592
- Shaw, op. cit., pp.92-93
- Garry, T. Gerald (1931). Egypt: The Home of the Occult Sciences, with Special Reference to Imhotep, the Mysterious Wise Man and Egyptian God of Medicine. London: John Bale, Sons and Danielsson. P.122
- <Price, Humbert. Imhotep Today: Egyptianizing Architecture (Encounters with Ancient Egypt). Psychology Press, July 3, 2003. C.A. Price, University College. London. Institute of Archaeology. p.234
- Mostafa Shehata, MD (2004), "The Father of Medicine: A Historical Reconsideration", J Med Ethics 12, p. 171-176 .
- How Imhotep gave us medicine, The Daily Telegraph, 10/05/2007.
- Leonard Francis Peltier, Fractures: A History and Iconography of Their Treatment, Norman Publishing 1990, p.16
- Marina Warner, Felipe Fernández-Armesto, World of Myths, University of Texas Press 2003, ISBN 0-292-70204-3, p.296
- Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings, University of California Press 1980, ISBN 0-520-04020-1, p.106
- Thoth or the Hermes of Egypt: A Study of Some Aspects of Theological Thought in Ancient Egypt, p. 166–168, Patrick Boylan, Oxford University Press, 1922
- M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, The University of California Press 1980, vol. 3, p.104
- Malek, Jaromir 'The Old Kingdom' in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw (ed.) Oxford University Press paperback 2002. p. 156
- A Series of Lectures Delivered at Yale University, April 1913 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1566/1566-h/1566-h.htm?
- The Famine Stela. Retrieved June 1, 2005. "After a German translation by Günther Roeder, Jena, 1923"
- K. Ryholt, ‘The Life of Imhotep?’, Actes du IXe Congrès International des Études Démotiques, edited by G. Widmer and D. Devauchelle, Bibliothèque d’étude 147, Le Caire, Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 2009, pp. 305-15.
Further reading 
- Asante, Molefi Kete (2000). The Egyptian philosophers : ancient African voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten. Chicago: African American Images. ISBN 0-913543-66-7.
- Cormack, Maribelle (1965). Imhotep: Builder in Stone. New York: Franklin Watts.
- Dawson, Warren R. (1929). Magician and Leech: A Study in the Beginnings of Medicine with Special Reference to Ancient Egypt. London: Methuen.
- Garry, T. Gerald (1931). Egypt: The Home of the Occult Sciences, with Special Reference to Imhotep, the Mysterious Wise Man and Egyptian God of Medicine. London: John Bale, Sons and Danielsson.
- Hurry, Jamieson B. (1978). Imhotep (2nd ed.). New York: AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-13285-5.
- Imhotep (2667 BC - 2648 BC), BBC History