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IMHOTEP

 

Imhotep was a high courtier under King Djoser (Dynasty III), who was given the supreme privilege of having his name carved alongside that of Pharaoh himself. He held the offices of vizier and master sculptor. The Egyptian priest Manetho stated that he was the inventor of building with blocks of dressed stone. It is likely that he planned the Step Pyramid at Saqqara

In the Middle and New Kingdoms Imhotep was revered principally as a scribe, and surviving bronzes depict him seated in the scribal position with a roll of papyrus open on his knees. This reverence led to his deification - an extremely rare honour - and in the Ptolemaic period, cult objects to Imhotep are found as far apart as Saqqara and Philae.

Mention must also be made of his ability as a healer, and in Greek thinking he became associated with Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine.

Finally, Imhotep's association with Ptah (whose son he is considered to be by a lady called Khreduankh)  led him to be venerated as an agent capable of renewing his father's (i.e.Ptah's) generative forces. A stele in the British Museum narrates the story of the Lady Taimhotep, who prayed to Imhotep for a son. (Her husband was High Priest of Ptah) Imhotep commanded the embellishment of his sanctuary in north Saqqara. This was done, and in due course Taimhotep conceived and gave birth to a son on Imhotep's festival day.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, and so because their pharaoh was important to them, they prepared him for the afterlife with immense care. A tomb was a house for eternity. The pharaoh was then buried with a variety of objects for use in the next world. Pharaohs usually began planning their tomb from the start of their reign. They aimed to have a range of objects, from the rich and luxurious to the mundane and everyday. The earliest tomb-form was the pyramid. It is not certain why this was favoured - perhaps it was seen as a staircase, or as a ramp of sunlight, upon which the deceased pharaoh could ascend  to heaven. The sun played a central part in Egyptian religious beliefs - one of the pharaoh's titles was Son of Ra.

THE STEP PYRAMID

The Step pyramid at Saqqara is the oldest large stone building in the world and the earliest pyramid constructed in Egypt. The Step Pyramid dominates the Saqqara area, which lies in the desert west of the Nile and was the necropolis of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. It was built in about 2650 BCE by Pharaoh Djoser (who reigned from 2669 - 2649 BCE)

The architect of the structure is alleged to have been IMHOTEP, who was also the royal vizier. His great achievement led him to be revered by later dynasties as a god of wisdom. He was worshipped not only as an architect, but also as a doctor, magician, astronomer and mathematician. Later, he was identified with the Greek Asclepius, the god of healing.

The pyramid began as a mastaba tomb. By adding further mastabas on top, Imhotep created a steeped structure with six vertical stages - a step pyramid. Beneath the pyramid, archaeologists found a maze of passages and rooms. Djoser's burial chamber was lined with pink granite and sealed with a stone that weighed three tons. But it had long ago been plundered only item found was the king's mummified left foot.