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About 4600 years ago today we lost a true scholar, an Egyptian polymath, and a true vision seeker, Imhotep. Imhotep was a bold man who learned from his successors, and his name meant “He Who Comes in Peace” and that was truly who he was. He was the only Egyptian to be fully deified, becoming the god of wisdom, medicine, and architecture. Furthermore, Imhotep had a vision like no one else, today I am going to talk about Imhotep’s significant achievements that made him the intellectual we know him as today.
A commoner at birth, Imhotep’s intelligence and determination enabled him to rise through the ranks to become one of King Djoser’s most trusted advisors, as well as the architect of the pharaoh’s tomb, the Step Pyramid. Earlier tombs of the kings of Egypt were called Mastabas, which were one level rectangular structures of dried mud bricks containing underground chambers where the dead are buried. When Imhotep started building Djoser’s step pyramid he took inspiration of the mastabas but changed it from a rectangular base to a square base. It is unknown why Imhotep wanted to change the shape but many believed he had the idea of the square based pyramid from the start. His Step Pyramid were basically many mastabas stacked up together. In addition, the earlier mastabas had inscriptions of reeds on them and Imhotep wanted to save that characteristic but rather than inscriptions on mud they would be on stone, it was plain to see Imhotep was a true innovator. When it was completed the pyramid stood 206ft/62 meters high and was the tallest structure of its time. The surrounding of the pyramid had a temple, courtyard, living quarters for priests, and much more. King Djoser was so astonished by this that he ignored the ancient criterion where only the king’s name appears on a monument and instead he also added Imhotep’s name as well. In addition, Imhotep’s effort into making the step pyramid introduced the idea of more structures and development of Egypt.
During the last period of his adoration, he became a local god in the city of Memphis for his skills in medicine. Moreover, Imhotep was practicing medicine and writing his discoveries over 2000 years before Hippocrates (father of medicine) was even born! Furthermore, Imhotep is believed to be the author of Edwin Smith Papyrus which contains 90 anatomical terms and describes 48 different injuries. The text which was found dates back to 1600 BCE which was long after he died but many think it is a copy of his early work. Furthermore, he was said to have extracted medicine from plants and treated diseases like appendicitis, gout, and arthritis which was amazing for the time. Since Imhotep was technically the “first” doctor on earth the people of Memphis believed that he was part human part god. In addition, within the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the examinations are described similar to a modern-day visit at a doctor, for example, patients are asked where they feel pain, the physician finds wounds and questions patients about it, then a prognosis is stated. Imhotep truly had a mind like no other by creating the pillars of medicine as we know it.
There is no doubt that Imhotep was an amazing scholar, maybe even the smartest person to ever exist, he was able to imagine a feat never attempted before, perhaps never even conceived of, and make it a reality. The Egypt we see today would not be seen if it weren’t for Imhotep’s vision of the step pyramid. Once it was created it was rebuilt over and over again to perfection which resulted in the Pyramids of Giza. Same with his work in medicine which saved thousands of peoples lives, he was the one who started it all. Imhotep was a true innovator in history and his work should keep being recognized and passed on in the future because legends are never forgotten.
To summarize, Imhotep was an excelling individual who was recognized as the world’s first doctor, priest, scribe sage, poet, astrologer, and a vizier. His significant achievements of creating the first step pyramid and saving thousands of people from diseases and injuries, made him the person we know him as today. The people of Memphis and Greece recognized him as almost a god but he was just a person like you with a vision. I believe that Imhotep has taught us that you can achieve anything if you put in hard work into it and have a vision; a goal. He came from nothing and brought himself to the top, and finally, my final words to Imhotep are “To the person who comes in peace, may now rest in peace.”
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