Who is Imhotep?
Imhotep was a brilliant architect who also made significant contributions to art and many disciplines of medicine, making him one of the most well-known architects in ancient Egyptian and global history. Imhotep was the earliest known doctor in human history, and he created several medicines and remedies that were used to treat a wide range of illnesses. He was also the first architect to utilize stone columns in his numerous projects in ancient Egypt, according to historical records.
The Imhotep Museum was built at Saqqara to honor the memory of Imhotep, one of ancient Egypt’s most accomplished architects who is credited with the concept of building the pyramid-shaped tombs of the kings and queens that we see today. Imhotep built the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt’s first pyramid, as well as a complex surrounding it. Djoser’s Step-Pyramid is the world’s oldest surviving stone structure.
Prior to this, the deceased were buried deep within the ground in mud-brick tombs. With Imhotep’s innovations and creations, all of these ideas altered. Imhotep was the first to employ columns in the construction of diverse structures, to create temple ceilings with stone blocks, and to erect a statue above ground level, in addition to being the first to construct temples and pyramids out of stone.
Furthermore, Imhotep was a well-known astrologer, and some historians and scientists claim that he devised the Ephemeris System and the ancient Egyptian manner of writing using black ink, all of which are still extensively used today. He created and authored a number of poems that were well-known among the royal family and the general public in ancient Egypt.
Imhotep served in a variety of key roles during the reign of King Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty, owing to his remarkable abilities and capabilities. Imhotep was the king’s general director, in charge of overseeing the operations of the royal palace. During Djoser’s reign, he also became a vizier, and he enjoyed many of the same privileges as the kings and members of the royal family.
Imhotep’s unexpected disappearance from historical records is a huge mystery; no mention of his death can be found in any ancient Egyptian archives, and his tomb has yet to be unearthed.
The Imhotep Museum at Saqqara
The new Imhotep Museum was inaugurated in April 2006 with much fanfare by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. This is a must-see on your next trip to Saqqara, as it is a contemporary museum with cutting-edge technology and security. The Step Pyramid and the burial complex of King Zoser (Djoser), the Pyramid of Unas, the Teti Pyramid, Old Kingdom tombs portraying scenes of daily life, and much more may be found twenty kilometers south of the Giza Pyramids at Saqqara.
Treasures from the Archaic Period, the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom, the Late Period, and the Greco-Roman Period have been discovered in the dunes of Saqqara. And there’s still so much more to learn! The excavations are still going on, and new riches are being discovered each season.
The construction of the new museum began in 1997. The aim was to create a separate location dedicated just to the numerous discoveries made in this region. Visitors will be happy to see items that are tastefully exhibited, well-air-conditioned buildings, and contemporary restroom facilities at the entrance, not far from where the ticket office was formerly located.
The museum is divided into five sections: 1) the theater and a model of the funeral complex, 2) the Main Hall with architectural features, 3) New Discoveries, 4) Model Tomb Hall and 5) the Jean-Philippe Lauer Library.
Visitors can see a National Geographic short video on the Imhotep Museum in the theater. A replica of the funerary complex in the middle of the chamber depicts the Step Pyramid and surrounding buildings in dazzling white, as they would have appeared when they were fresh. Jean-Philippe Lauer (1902-2001), an archeologist who made several discoveries at Saqqara and dedicated his life to repairing these structures, built the model. One of the museum’s halls is dedicated to the preservation of his library.
The blue-green faience is the most striking element of the Main Hall. These tiles were gathered and rebuilt in the Step Pyramid’s anti-chamber and burial chamber to show tourists how the walls of these chambers, as well as those of the Southern Tomb, would have appeared in ancient times.
There is also a statue of Ptah-Shepses (5th Dynasty) from Abu Sir, who is a scribe. Reading and writing are the two sorts of scribe statues. Ptah-Shepses is shown as a reading scribe in this statue. The 2nd and 3rd Dynasties left behind an extraordinary collection of enormous alabaster jars, some standing over one meter tall. These jars were found in the Step Pyramid’s lower chambers. A block depicting the procedures for manufacturing alabaster jars is included in the display.
A mummy discovered during recent excavations near the Teti Pyramid is currently on exhibit in the museum’s “New Discoveries” hall as one of the museum’s finest. We discovered a mummy that was the most gorgeous mummy I had ever seen as we shifted the dunes. When I first saw the mummy, I was taken aback. The hues — yellow, blue, red, and black – appeared to have been painted only yesterday. We know it dates from the 30th Dynasty, but we don’t know the owner’s name because there aren’t any inscriptions to inform us. The mask has a golden finish. The mummy itself is 176 cm long and was covered in linen. Scenes are painted on the casing. A pectoral with a winged scarab is painted on the breast. Five gods with scepters stand on either side.
Ma’at, a winged deity with two wings, is hidden behind the necklace. Scenes of the deity Anubis executing mummifications are shown on the mummy’s legs.
Artifacts discovered during Dr. Zahi Hawass’ excavations near the Tomb of Qar are also on display in this hall. A dentist from the Old Kingdom owned this recently found tomb. Surgical instruments and bronze sculptures of gods and goddesses like Isis, Horus, Osiris, Ptah, Anubis, and others can be found. Dr. Zahi Hawass has had a significant impact on Egyptology.
Excavations, monument restoration, new museum openings, countless books, and articles published, stolen treasures recovered, and public awareness of Ancient Egypt and new discoveries raised through the media, the face of Ancient Egypt in today’s world has reached new heights under his guidance. “His name will endure eternally,” as the Ancient Egyptians could say.
Hall 4 features a model of a tiny tomb with traditional burial materials such as a coffin, a wooden statue, ceramic jars, and offerings, as well as a replica of a small tomb. There are even several giving jars that had cheese in them when they were discovered! A pyramidion discovered near the Teti Pyramid by Dr. Zahi Hawass, some limestone maces, a wooden coffin from King Mery-en-Ra of the 6th Dynasty, a limestone block with pyramid texts from the Pepi I Pyramid, some alabaster canopic jars, and a limestone sphinx of King Unas is among the other items in this hall.
Despite all of the amazing items on the show today, we are always on the lookout for more. Perhaps one day we will be able to unearth Imhotep’s tomb. Only 30% of the riches from Ancient Egypt have been unearthed so far, according to legend. Who knows what we’ll find tomorrow, next week, next year, or… the quest continues to be exciting and suspenseful. No one knows what the Egyptian sands may hold, just that they will continue to reveal time’s secrets.