Sunday, November 2, 2014

Museum Pieces - Statuette of Imhotep

Statuette of Imhotep

Category: Sculpture in the round, figurines / statuettes, human / gods and goddesses figurines
Date: Ancient Egyptian period, Late Period (664-332 BCE)
Provenance: Upper Egypt, Giza, Saqqara
Material(s): Non-organic material, alloy, bronze
Height: 14.5 cm
Registration Number(s): BAAM Serial 0591, CG 38873


A bronze statue of Imhotep sitting with his hands resting on his knees holding a papyrus roll.  This Late Period statue was found in Saqqara.


Imhotep was the famous architect and vizier of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty (Old Kingdom) who built the Saqqara complex and the step pyramid. Manetho ascribes to him the innovation of building in dressed stone. His name was found inscribed on a statue belonging to King Djoser in the Saqqara step-pyramid complex bearing his titles. He was 'the builder, sculptor and maker of stone vases'; the 'royal chancellor, first under the king, ruler of the great mansion, member of the Pat, greatest of seers, and overseer of masons and painters'.

During the New Kingdom, new titles were added to him, such as 'High Priest', the 'Sage', 'Chief Scribe' and 'Son of the god Ptah.

Imhotep, while honoured during his lifetime, was deified two thousand years after his death in the Late (Saite) Period and was considered the god of wisdom, writing and medicine. He was linked to the gods Ptah and Thoth. 

The Greeks associated him with their god of medicine, Asklepius.  His cult centre at Saqqara (the Asklepion) became a pilgrimage centre for those seeking healing.  He was also worshipped at temples of Deir El Medina, Karnak, Deir El Bahari and Philae.

It is believed that his tomb lies in the northern part of the Saqqara necropolis, however, it has not been found to date.


Corteggiani, Jean Pierre. L'Egypte des Pharaons au Musée du Caire. Paris: Hachette, Les Livres de France, 1986.
"Imhotep". In Dictionary of Egyptian civilization. By Posener, Georges, Serge Sauneron and Jean Yoyotte. Translated from the French by Alix Macfarlane. London: Methuen, 1962.


Photocredit: BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

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