- Imhotep -

  Ancient Egypt From A To Z   Early Dynastic Period    
  Imhotep   Netjerikhet    


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Little is known about the historical Imhotep. Apparently, he was a commoner at birth who lived during the reigns of Netjerikhet and his successors. He rose through the ranks of temple and governmental officials and became one of Netjerikhet's most trusted advisers: he was the high priest of Ptah, vizier, royal sealbearer and 'overseer of works', architect, responsible for the construction of Netjerikhet's Step Pyramid and surrounding funerary complex. 


The name and titulary of Imhotep have been found on the base of a statue of Netjerikhet, showing the high esteem Imhotep held at the Egyptian court.


Such was Imhotep's reputation and impact on the Egyptian society that he was deified and that he was associated with other intellectual and scientific achievements. He thus became the patron of medicine, of writing and of knowledge. Some didactic texts were ascribed to him as well. Surprisingly, though, it would take to the Late Dynastic Period, before Imhotep actually was deified. At first, he was more like a private god, but during the Greek-Roman era, shrines and small temples were dedicated to him.