Imhotep

Architect / Healer

Born: c. 2700 B.C.
Died: c. 2600 B.C.
Birthplace: Near Memphis, Egypt
Best known as: The architect of the oldest Egyptian pyramid
Imhotep was a priest and high government official of Egyptian Third Dynasty king Djoser. Imhotep designed Djoser's tomb, a step pyramid in Saqqara that's considered the world's oldest stone building. Imhotep's work predates reliable records, but modern scholarship puts Djoser's reign around 2640 B.C., possibly ending around 2613 B.C. Imhotep advised the king and supposedly produced journals (now lost) on medicine and healing, and he's credited with designing Djoser's tomb, a 40-acre complex near ancient Memphis that required the mobilization of thousands of laborers. Over the next two thousand years, Imhotep's legend grew. He was deified in Egypt, and the Greeks (who called him Imouthes) associated him with their god of medicine, Asclepius. Considered a semi-mythical figure until archaeological finds of the 20th century, Imhotep is considered by many to be history's first scientist.
Extra credit: Some people think the Joseph of the Bible and Imhotep are one and the same... Since 1990, Egypt's Saqqara Geophysical Survey has been working on what they believe is the site of Imhotep's tomb.

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More on Imhotep from Fact Monster:

  • Imhotep - Biography of Imhotep, The architect of the oldest Egyptian pyramid
  • Selected Biographies: I - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters

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