IMHOTEP

        IMHOTEP AFRICA 1ST DOCUMENTED DOCTOR

 

This article is about the ancient Egyptian official Imhotep, He served under the 3rd dynasty of king Dioser as chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest of the sun God Ra

He is considered by some to be the first known physician even though two other physician lived around the same time, Hesyra and merit Ptah. He had many titles- Chancellor, Doctor, high priest, chief carpenter, chief sculptor and Builder. He was one of only a few commoners to be given divine status after death. Two contemporary inscriptions found on the base of one of KING DIOSER’S statues and also on the wall surrounding KING SEKHEMKHET unfinished step pyramid, which was abandoned due to this ruler’s brief reign, confirms Imhotep historicity. Being one of the chief officals of the Pharaoh DIOSER, Egyptologists say the design of the step pyramid of Dioser  was down to him, in 2630 BC. He may have been responsible for the use of columns to support the building.

(( Imhotep’s high standing in Djoser’s court is affirmed by an inscription bearing his name on a statue of Djoser found at the site of the Ṣaqqārah pyramid. The inscription lists a variety of titles, including chief of the sculptors and chief of the seers. Although no contemporary account has been found that refers to Imhotep as a practicing physician, ancient documents illustrating Egyptian society and medicine during the Old Kingdom (c. 2575– c. 2130 bce) show that the chief magician of the pharaoh’s court also frequently served as the nation’s chief physician. Imhotep’s reputation as the reigning genius of the time, his position in the court, his training as a scribe, and his becoming known as a medical demigod only 100 years after his death are strong indications that he must have been a physician of considerable skill.

 

Not until the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 bce was Imhotep elevated to the position of a full deity, replacing Nefertem in the great triad of Memphis, shared with his mythological parents Ptah, the creator of the universe, and Sekhmet, the goddess of war and pestilence. Imhotep’s cult reached its zenith during Greco-Roman times, when his temples in Memphis and on the island of Philae (Arabic: Jazīrat Fīlah) in the Nile River were often crowded with sufferers who prayed and slept there with the conviction that the god would reveal remedies to them in their dreams. The only Egyptian mortal besides the 18th-dynasty sage and minister Amenhotep to attain the honour of total deification, Imhotep is still held in esteem by physicians who, like the eminent 19th-century British practitioner Sir William Osler, consider him “the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity.” ))

MEDICINE

Imhotep was an important figure in Ancient Egyptian Medicine. He is the Author of a
medical treatise, containing anatomical observations, ailments and cures.
” 27 head injuries.
” 6 throat and neck injuries.
” 2 collarbone injuries.
” 3 Arm injuries.
” 8 injuries to the breastbone and ribs.
” 1 tumour and 1 abscess of the breast.
” 1 injury to the shoulder.
” 1 injury to the spine.
Imhotep extracted medicine from plants.

 

Imhotep was portrayed as a priest with a shaven head, seated and holding a papyrus roll. Occasionally he was shown clothed in the archaic costume of a priest. ‘Of the details of his life, very little has survived though numerous statues and statuettes of him have been found. Some show him as an ordinary man who is dressed in plain attire. Others show him as a sage who is seated on a chair with a roll of papyrus on his knees or under his arm. Later, his statuettes show him with a god like beard, standing, and carrying the ankh and a scepter.’ ‘He is represented seated with a papyrus scroll across his knees, wearing a skullcap and a long linen kilt. We can interpret the papyrus as suggesting the sources of knowledge kept by scribes in the “House of Life”. The headgear identifies Imhotep with Ptah, and his priestly linen garment symbolizes his religious purity.