Saturday, November 19, 2011


Other Names: Imhetep.

Patron of: architecture and the sciences.

Appearance: a man dressed in the robes of a noble with the punt beard and carrying the tools of a builder.

Description: Not really a god in the truest sense of the word, Imhotep was a deified man. He was originally the chief architect, grand vizier, physician, and scientist under Zoser (III Dynasty, c.2635-2570 BC). He designed the Step Pyramid at Saqqara and formulated the architectural theories that would lead to the construction of the Pyramids of Giza only a few generations later. He was also an accomplished astronomer and physician.

After his death a cult sprang up dedicated to him. It quickly grew in popularity among the learned people of Egypt (Imhotep's life had occurred during a sort of Renaissance) and continued for many centuries. His followers believed him to be the son of Ptah, the architect of the entire universe.

Worship: Worshipped widely throughout Egypt, he even had a flourishing cult in Greece where he was identified with Asclepius, another deified man and the god of healing.

From: TourEgypt
Cult Center: Memphis

Imhotep is one of the few Egyptian gods (other than the pharaohs) who was actually a real person. He was the vizier of Djoser, a pharaoh of the third dynasty. He was skilled in all areas of administration and royal enterprises. Imhotep was also a priest, writer, a doctor and a founder of the Egyptian studies of astronomy and architecture.

Imhotep was known perhaps best of all as the architect of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, near Memphis. The Step Pyramid was the first structure created by human hands to be built entirely from stone.

It was as a wise man and scribe that Imhotep was first honored as a god. In the New Kingdom was was venerated as the patron of scribes. Scribes would pour a couple of drops of water in libation to him before beginning to write. During this time, this form of ancestor worship to Imhotep was privately practiced and his cult was similar to that of any of the dead (although more wide-spread). Also at that time, Imhotep was identified with Nefertem, the son of Ptah.

During the Late Dynastic Period when the capital of Egypt was moved to Sais, Imhotep was fully deified. He was called the son of Ptah and his mother was either Nut or Sekhmet. He was also associated with Thoth and became a patron of wisdom and medicine. Miraculous cures were often attributed to him. The Greeks identified him with Asclepius, their god of medicine and healing.

Imhotep was supposed to send sleep to those who were suffering or in pain. He was the physician to both the gods and men.

During the Ptolemaic Period, a small temple to Imhotep was built on the Island of Philae.

In art, 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. He was not represented with divine insignias.

From: here
Imhotep (sometimes spelled Immutef, Im-hotep, or Ii-em-Hotep; called Imuthes (Ιμυθες) by the Greeks), fl. 27th century BC (2655-2600 BC) (Egyptian ii-m-ḥtp *jā-im-ḥatāp meaning "the one who comes in peace") was an Egyptian polymath,[1] who served under the Third Dynasty king, Djoser, as chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest of the sun god Ra at Heliopolis. He is considered to be the first architect[2] and engineer[3] and physician in early history [4] though two other 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.[5]


As Imhotep was considered the founder of medicine as a discipline, he was sometimes said to be the one who held up the goddess Nut (the deification of the sky), as the separation of Nut and Geb (the deification of the earth) was said to be what held back chaos. Due to the position this would have placed him in, he was also sometimes said to be Nut's son. In artwork he is also linked with the great goddess, Hathor, who eventually became identified as the wife of Ra. Imhotep was also associated with Ma'at, the goddess who personified the concept of truth, cosmic order, and justice — having created order out of chaos and being responsible for maintaining that order.

Two thousand years after his death, Imhotep's status was raised to that of a deity. He became the god of medicine and healing. He later was linked to Asclepius by the Greeks. He was associated with Amenhotep son of Hapu, who was another deified architect, in the region of Thebes where they were worshipped as "brothers".[17]

From: Wiki (also has some more info)
Imhotep (G/R Imouthis) - "In peace" Imhotep is one example of the "personality cult" of Kemet, whereby a learned sage or otherwise especially venerated person could be deified after death and become a special intercessor for the living, much as the saints of Roman Catholicism and forms of Orthodox Christianity. Imhotep the man is recorded as having lived during the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. He is said to have been a chief lector-priest (kher-heb/hery-hebt hery-tep) as well as a famed architect and physician. The Step Pyramid complex of King Djoser at modern-day Saqqara is just one monument attributed to Imhotep's design. In the Late Period, Imhotep was identified with the Greek demigod Asklaepios and attributed with feats of miraculous healing. During this period, Imhotep was declared the son of Ptah and Sekhmet in the Triad of Mennefer (Memphis), and was sometimes identified with Their son, Nefertem.

From: House of Netjer
Of the non royal population of Egypt, probably one man is known better than all others. So successful was Imhotep (Imhetep, Greek Imouthes) that he is one of the world's most famous ancients, and his name, if not his true identity, has been made even more famous by various mummy movies. Today, the world is probably much more familiar with his name than that of his principal king, Djoser. Imhotep, who's name means "the one that comes in peace". existed as a mythological figure in the minds of most scholars until the end of the nineteenth century when he was established as a real historical person.

He was the world's first named architect who built Egypt's first pyramid, is often recognized as the world's first doctor, a priest,. scribe, sage, poet, astrologer, and a vizier and chief minister, though this role is unclear, to Djoser (reigned 2630–2611 BC), the second king of Egypt's third dynasty. He may have lived under as many as four kings. An inscription on one of that kings statues gives us Imhotep's titles as the "chancellor of the king of lower Egypt", the "first one under the king", the "administrator of the great mansion", the "hereditary Noble", the "high priest of Heliopolis", the "chief sculptor", and finally the "chief carpenter".


Imhotep is one example of the "personality cult" of Kemet, whereby a learned sage or otherwise especially venerated person could be deified after death and become a special intercessor for the living, much as the saints of Roman Catholicism. About 100 years after his death, he was elevated as a medical demigod. In about 525, around 2,000 years after his death, he was elevated to a full god, and replaced Nefertum in the great triad at Memphis. In the Turin Canon, he was known as the "son of Ptah". Imhotep was, together with Amenhotep, the only mortal Egyptians that ever reached the position of full gods. He was also associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom, writing and learning, and with the Ibises, which was also associated with Thoth.

We are told that his main centers of worship were in the Ptolemaic temple to Hathor atf Dier el-Medina and at Karnak in Thebes, where he was worshipped in conjunction with Amenhotep-Son-of-Hapu, a sanctuary on the upper terrace of the temple at Deir el-Bahari, at Philae where a chapel of Imhotep stands immediately in front of the eastern pylon of the temple of Isis and of course, at Memphis in Lower (northern) Egypt, where a temple was erected to him near the Serapeum. At saqqara, we are told that people bought offerings to his cult center, including mummified Ibises and sometimes, clay models of diseased limbs and organs in the hope of being healed.

He was later even worshipped by the early Christians as one with Christ. The early Christians, it will be recalled, adapted to their use those pagan forms and persons whose influence through the ages had woven itself so powerfully into tradition that they could not omit them.

He was worshiped even in Greece where he was identified with their god of medicine, Aslepius. . He was honored by the Romans and the emperors Claudius and Tiberius had inscriptions praising Imhotep placed on the walls of their Egyptian temples. He even managed to find a place in Arab traditions, especially at Saqqara where his tomb is thought to be located.

Imhotep lived to a great age, apparently dying in the reign of King Huni, the last of the dynasty. His burial place has not been found but it has been speculated that it may indeed be at Saqqara, possibly in an unattested mastaba 3518.

From: Imhotep, Doctor, Architect, High Priest, Scribe and Vizier to King Djoser by Jimmy Dunn
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. It is likely that he planned the Step Pyramid at Saqqara and the Egyptian priest Manetho stated that he was the inventor of building with blocks of dressed stone.

In the Middle and New Kingdom 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 honor – 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.

Main center of worship:
Thebes, where he was worshipped in conjunction with Amenhotep-Son-of-Hapu.4th Nome, Upper Egypt

Other places:
A sanctuary on the upper terrace of the temple at Deir el-Bahari:4th Nome, Upper Egypt

Deir el-Medina: 4th Nome, Upper Egypt

Philae: A chapel of Imhotep immediately in front of the eastern pylon of the temple of Isis: 1st Nome, Upper Egypt

Memphis/1st Nome, Lower Egypt

From: here

(Imouthes) Imhotep is the most prominent example of an Egyptian ‘saint’, that is, an historical figure who achieves divine or semi-divine status posthumously. Imhotep was the vizier and ‘overseer of works’ for the third dynasty king Djoser, distinguishing himself especially as the architect of Egypt’s first pyramid, the so-called Step Pyramid at Saqqara. He was also a priest of Ptah, and hence his divinization consisted in being regarded as the son of Ptah by a mortal woman, Khreduankh. Imhotep was also worshiped as a full deity, however, his mother then being usually Sekhmet, but occasionally Mut. Apparently a man of considerable intellectual achievement in his lifetime, Imhotep came to be regarded as a patron of learning in general, but especially medicine. Imhotep’s temple at Memphis functioned as a hospital and school of medicine. Imhotep appeared in dreams to those who solicited him, bestowing advice on virtually any matter upon which he was consulted, but especially medical concerns, the dream either resulting in an immediate cure, or by way of some treatment or ritual action the God recommended. Hence Imhotep came to be known as “the good physician of Gods and men, kind and merciful God, assuaging the sufferings of those in pain, healing the diseases of men and giving peaceful sleep to the restless and suffering,” (Hurry 1926, 54). Imhotep also advises on and guarantees the proper form for rituals. Imhotep is depicted as a man, usually seated, in the garb of a priest or scribe, or sometimes nude, wearing a skullcap or with shaved head, frequently unrolling a papyrus scroll from which he reads. One votive statue of Imhotep bears the inscription, “Every scribe pours out to you a libation from his water bowl,” (ibid., 103).

A cycle of festivals were celebrated in honor of Imhotep through the year, celebrating his birth, his appearance before Ptah and Sekhmet, his death, and his resurrection in the company of his father Ptah. A hymn to Imhotep is inscribed upon the temple of Ptah at Karnak, alongside one to another ‘saint’, Amenhotep son of Hapu, who is often worshiped together with Imhotep. In the hymn Imhotep is said to share in the offerings which are presented to the Gods, who are referred to are “your brothers, the elder Gods,” in addition to the offerings which made to him directly, and in turn to “feed the worthy spirits with your surpluses,” that is, to distribute his surplus to the worthy deceased persons. As a healer, Imhotep is said in the hymn to “renew your father’s [Ptah's] creation,” and to exist in the closest alliance with Amenhotep son of Hapu, “who loves you, whom you love … your bodies form a single one” (Lichtheim vol. 3, 104-6).

From: Henadology

Also see:
Scribd: Hurry Jamieson B. -- Imhotep the Vizier and Physician of King Zoser and Afterwards the Egyptian God of Medicine. 1926. (free download available)
Wepwawet Wiki entry
Short article
Another article
How Imhotep gave us medicine
Inscriptions in the New Empire & Inscriptions in the Lower Time

And if anyone is curious, there is a theory that Joseph of the Bible is the same man as Imhotep. A site about that. And one more. Some older texts even equate him to Jesus.

Also see:
Asklepios/Asclepius - Ἀσκληπιός {God of the Week} -- Greeks linked these two as they share many commonalities

I found this in a book.

Hymn to Imhotep
In the Temple of Ptah at Karnak
...The Hymn to Imhotep is inscribed in six columns on the right (southern) doorpost of the fourth door of the temple of Ptah at Karnak...hymns are works of the Roman period, and both end with the name of the emperor Tiberius...

Hail to you, kind-[hearted] god,
Imhotep son of Ptah!
Come to your house, your temple in Thebes,
May its people see you with joy!
Receive what is presented there,
Inhale the incense,
Refresh your body with libation!

This your seat is your favored seat,
More splendid for you than the seats of other towns;
You see Amun in the seasons' feasts,
For your seat is next to his.
You join life in the joiner-of-life,
It faces your house at Manu.
Your arm is sustained by Mont, Lord of Thebes,
You catch the northwind southbound by your house.
You see the sun shining in rays of gold
At the upper doors of the lord of glory!
You view the gods' houses on your house's four sides,
You receive the offerings that come from their altars;
You moisten your throat with water,
When your prophets bring this libation.
Your endowment priests offer to you of all good things,
All food supplies for everyday:
Wine, beer, milk,
Burnt-offerings at nightfall.
May your ba swoop from heaven to your house everyday,
At the welcoming voice of your priestly singer!
May you hear the chantings of your steward,
As he sets things before your Ka!

Men applaud you,
Women worship you,
One and all exalt your kindness!
For you heal them,
You revive them,
You renew your father's creation.
They bring you their donations,
Bear to you their gifts,
Proffer you their goods;
That you eat the offering loaves,
That you swallow the beer,
With your brothers, the elder gods,
And feed the worthy spirits with your surpluses.
The learned ones praise god for you,
Foremost among them your brother,
Who loves you, whom you love,
Amenhotep son of Hapu.
He abides with you,
He parts not from you;
Your bodies form a single one,
Your ba's receive the things you love,
Brought you by your son, Caesar Augustus.

Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 3 volumes, The University of California Press 1973-1980

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