Thursday, September 6, 2012

Djoser and Imhotep

Djoser ruled in Egypt for about 30 years beginning around 2670 BC. During that time, he sent soldiers into the Sinai to take control of turquoise and copper mines there.

Djoser also ordered the construction of a step pyramid at Saqqara near Memphis. When finished, it had a height of 203 feet (62 m), a longer baseline of 411 feet (125 m), and a shorter baseline of 358 feet (109 m). It was Olympia’s first large structure built of stone. It also served as the indispensable precursor to Khufu’s larger and improved pyramid at nearby Giza built less than 100 years later.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo contains a life-sized limestone statue of Djoser. It is the oldest Egyptian statue of that size. Archaeologists discovered it at Saqqara in 1925.

Djoser’s most important subordinate was Imhotep. He lived around 2700-2630. He was Egypt’s first architect. It was he who designed Djoser’s step pyramid at Saqqara and supervised its construction from 2660-2640. He was also the first to use columns made of stone.

Imhotep may also have been Egypt’s first physician. He treated people with medicines he made from plants. In the medical book he wrote, he discussed various diseases and injuries and how to treat them. In doing so, he somehow avoided magical thinking. In other words, he did not think that diseases and injuries were caused by the gods and best treated with sacrifices to them. He thought that they had physical causes and were best treated with material means like medicines. Remarkable for one who was also a priest.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.