Imhotep (fl. 2668–2648 BCE)

Imhotep

Born into a commoner family, Imhotep’s intelligence was tangible from an early age, and he quickly acceded to the position of chief architect to the Third Dynasty Pharoah Djoser (r. 2688-2668 BCE), the first recorded architect we know by name.

Imhotep later became famous as a priest and doctor, again the first named medical practitioner in at least Egypt, known for his skill as a pharmacist and treater of conditions including appendicitis, gout and arthritis.

Imhotep’s most important legacy, however, is that he is the first individual we know of to become deified (glorified as a God) after death – the first recorded human root of religion. During the Late Period of Egypt he became the God of Medicine (bronze Imhotep statues similar to the one pictured became a compulsory possession of all practicing doctors), and records of his worship extend in Greece and the Middle East until the 7th century ACE.

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