Bronze seated statuette of the architect Imhotep

From Egypt
Late Period, 6th-4th century BC

Imhotep with a scroll

Small bronze statuettes of deities were often placed in temples in ancient Egypt. They were frequently inscribed with the name of the person who dedicated the statuette, so that their devotion would continue for eternity.

Imhotep was a vizier and architect to King Djoser in around 2700 BC. Imhotep is credited with building the first monumental structure in stone, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. According to the historian Manetho, writing in the third century BC, Imhotep also wrote a book of 'instructions'. These texts offered advice on a variety of subjects. His tomb is assumed to be at Saqqara, but it has never been found.

Although none of the writings of Imhotep survive today, he was much respected long after his death. He was seen as the archetypal man of learning and was particularly associated with writing and medicine. In the Late Period (661-332 BC) he was worshipped as a god, and became the son of Ptah, the local god of the Saqqara-Memphis region. Imhotep is usually represented in a seated position with an open papyrus across his knees. The papyrus shows that Imhotep was a learned man and his relationship to Ptah is indicated by the close fitting cap which he wears.

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More information

Bibliography

G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

C.A.R. Andrews, Eternal Egypt: treasures from, exh. cat. (Hong Kong, Museum of Art, 1998)

G. Hart, Pharaohs and pyramids (London, Dorling Kindersley in association with the British Museum, 1991)

I. Shaw and P. Nicholson (eds.), British Museum dictionary of A (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Dimensions

Height: 13.000 cm

Museum number

EA 63800

YCA69132

Gift from Mitchell Innes

Location

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