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Step pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt

  • Carole Reeves
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Credit: Step pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt. Carole Reeves. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Step Pyramid at Saqqare, Lower Egypt, designed by Imhotep. The name of Imhotep has become inextricably linked with Egyptian medicine. He was vizier, architect and chief physician to the Pharaoh Djoser (2668-2649 BCE, dynasty III). The Step Pyramid was the first pyramid in Egyptian history and the earliest stone structure of its size anywhere in the world. Previous Egyptian architects had used stone as a building material for certain features in the mud-brick royal mastaba tombs of Dynasties I (3050-2890 BCE) and II (2890-2682 BCE) but Imhotep created a six-stepped pyramid tomb 62.2 metres high. It was set within a rectangular wall enclosure containing various ritual buildings, the whole funerary complex being constructed with stone. Imhotep was deified as a god of medicine and healing during the Late Period (713-332 BCE) and was identified by the Greeks with Asclepius, a mythical character depicted by the poet Pindar (c. 522-443 BCE) as the son of apollo, the god, and Cronis, daughter of King Phlegyas of Trikka in northern Greece. By the 5th century BCE the healing cult of Asclepius was becomming established throughout Greece, and that of Imhotep throughout Egypt. Photograph taken in 1989.


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