Imhotep was chief architect to the Egyptian pharaoh Djoser (reigned c.2630 - c.2611 BC). He was responsible for the world's first known monumental stone building, the Step Pyramid at Sakkara and is the first architect we know by name.
A commoner by birth, Imhotep's intelligence and determination enabled him to rise through the ranks to become one of Djoser's most trusted advisors, as well as the architect of the pharaoh's tomb, the Step Pyramid.
Imhotep's influence lived on well after his death. In the New Kingdom he was venerated as the patron of scribes, personifying wisdom and education. In the 'Turin Papyri' from this period he is also described as the son of Ptah, chief god of Memphis, in recognition of his role as a wise councillor.
During the Late Period his veneration extended to deification and he became a local god at Memphis where he was glorified for his skills as a physician and a healer. He is said to have extracted medicine from plants and treated diseases such as appendicitis, gout and arthritis. At Memphis he was served by his own priesthood and he was considered to be an intermediary between men and the gods. It was believed that he could help people solve difficulties in their daily lives and cure medical problems.
When the Greeks conquered Egypt they recognised in him attributes of their medicine god Asclepius, and continued to build temples to him. His reputation lasted until the Arab invasion of North Africa in the seventh century AD.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.