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 I M H O T E P : The FIRST pyramid builder

 

 

 

The Pyramid of Imhotep at Saqqarah - The oldest in the world

 

Imhotep was the first architect to plan and design these immense funeral tombs, which were surrounded by a wall of stones. Just the surrounding walls of the complex of Saqqarah must have been for those times a tremendous undertaking, but the crowning glory was of course the enormous pyramid, which had six steps (each sixty metres high), in the middle of the building complex. Egypt was thus thrust into a cycle of five to six hundred years during which several of these these impressive tombs or "homes for eternity" sprang up (100 km west of the Nile).

How this man of genius could conceive and design such plans and to such precision, would surprise even contemporary architects. He not only opened builders' yards to produce large carved stones (replacing the former brick dried in the sun), but he put in place some ingenious processes to transport these by boat! He also is credited with a process of landsliding sand over the blocks to close certain passageways in the pyramids.

In contrast, at Gizeh, the pyramid of Djeser was composed of three parts: several huge buildings with columns, a pyramid with a flat terrace on top of it, and the whole was surrounded and protected by a surrounding wall with bastions! We can ask several questions :

 

 

Even though Egypt stopped constructing pyramids, one cannot help comparing them with those erected later in other countries and on other continents, like Asia, South and Central America, where one often finds the same steps, the same designs and the same square bases as those in Egypt (!) We know that they were usually used as temples to the cult of the sun god.

Take for example: the two Aztec step pyramids of Teotihuacan (close to Mexico City), which have a long avenue of the dead joining the pyramid of the moon to the Citadel.

Like Saqqarah, these two pyramids are surrounded by a surrounding wall with bastions of stone, and they are oriented on an east/west axis, just like the course of the sun, which is born in the east and sets in the west (wherein lies the empire of the dead!) ...

At the great pyramid of Teotihuacan, which also has six steps(!), are 365 heads (symbolizing the days of the year), placed in alternation with the symbols of the god Tlaloc (the god of rain) and that of Quetzalcoalt, a composite god :

" quiecoatl , the snake of the forces of the earth "

The symbolic image of this god reminds humans of their dual nature, since man crawls on the earth, but already possesses some feathers, and like a bird, he will one day fly into the sky toward the light of the stars;

When we begin to be interested in extinct civilizations, we see that thousands of temples and pyramids are slowly disappearing, overgrown and covered by the jungle! In Mexico, Cairo or in Alexandria, the stones of these old temples have been used to rebuild modern cities.

The civilization of Atlantis may not be dead, it has perhaps simply changed its location somewhat, (several centuries ago ?), toward the Altantic (whence its name).

There are to the south of Bermuda and the Sargasso sea places where the ocean reaches the depth of 6000 to 8000 meters, and where (even in our time) strange magnetic phenomena occur, along with the unexplained disappearance of planes and boats.

Even if such men still exist today, what interest would they have in communicating with our civilization, which thinks only of the "arms race", and worshiping the god of money, Mamon?

 

I M H O T E P - A Master of science and of the arts

 

Taking an inventory of his work, we find he was involved in architectural planning, teaching the priests, his dispersal of his knowledge of anatomy and medicine (and of the art of mummification), his vast religious and laic wisdom, and his great knowledge of astronomy. Imhotep therefore had to be a great "mover" to be able to transform these men of ancient time into theologians, competent physicians, innovative architects, scribes who could understand philosophical wisdom, since we are now finding rare tablets and stones engraved with terrible scenes of combat from that epoque!

That is why the Egyptians considered him to be the GREAT Master of knowledge in Egypt, and a thousand years later they still revered his picture, in which he was immortalized as a scribe holding on his knees a roll of papyrus, whilst on his head he wore the calotte (or scullcap) of Ptah, the god of Memphis. Manethon emphasises also that Imhotep was the inventor of carved stones (which served also for writing). This was why the Egyptians compared Imhotep to the great god THOT of scribes, of writing and works of art. And thus one sees the difficulties of this modest man, who demanded "not to be deified" by a people who had such admiration for him, and recognised all the doors of science that he had opened for them. He was the servant of the ONE god, and did not want to replace HIM in any way.

 

I M H O T E P : a great Physician, ahead of his time

 

The chronicler Manethon considered IMHOTEP to be a miracle worker, renown for his medical and anatomical knowledge, and for his remedies which saved many human lives. He affirmed that the Greeks assimilated him (because of his medical knowledge) with ASKLEPIOS, the son of Zeus, who healed the desperately sick in his temple at Epidaur. According to legend, his father struck him down because he "revived the dead," thanks to the wonderful teachings of Chiron the (good) centaur! His Roman equivalent was called ESCULAPE.

Imhotep had founded at Memphis a school of medicine which remained famous for two thousand years. The education that he gave the priests (who were at that time also the physicians), saved so many human lives that people called these cures miracles and honored him (one would say today : like a saint), in many Egyptian cities.

At Karnak, the people started a cult to him, associating him, from the time of the New Kingdom, with Ptah. Now it was also around 1500BC that the architect SENMOUT (favorite and vizier of the regent Hatshepsout) built, across from Thebes at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile (and at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings), a vast architectural complex, with gardens, fountains and several religious buildings.

Initially constructed to receive the boat of Amon when he crossed the Nile (with his people following in procession), the main temple was part of the "Castles of Millions of Years" and was a great marvel, since all the desert surrounding it had been transformed into gardens where flowers flourished in all seasons, and there were frankincense trees brought back from an expedition to the country of.... Pount!

The whole of the building was constructed on the side of a cliff and had three levels: two had large terraces, and on the third level was a large speos (a temple built into and leaning against the mountain).

The facade of the first level had two rows of eleven pillars, which were on each side of a large central staircase leading to the second level. This first terrace was, in the time of the queen Hatchepsout, surrounded by pylons and an avenue of sphinx and obelisks, which formed the entrance.

The second level had a large court, with two temples dedicated to Hathor and to Anubis, as well as three small chapels. In the Period of the Decline, two chapels were added for two ancient divinities, whose worship had been revived : these were Imhotep and Amenhotep, the son of Hapou, who was a strange but very important character whom we will study in the reign of Amenophis III, the father of Akhenaton. Amenhotep was, like Imhotep, a great architect and a famous physician.

The upper part, on the edge of the cliff, was consecrated to the solar temple of Amon-Re, and to the "Holiest part of the Sanctuary". This part was closed at the rear, where the sanctuary was dug into the cliff, and only the King and the High Priest had the right to enter there. The Egyptians named this temple of Deir El Bahari : "the most beautiful place on earth".

Neither the tomb, nor the mummy of Imhotep have ever been recovered; maybe he was buried at Saqqarah beside king Djeser, or perhaps he returned to his own country ?

 

The period after DJESER and IMHOTEP

 

Imhotep was in Egypt no more, but other remarkable builders carried on his work, and Egypt is covered with monuments which still astonish the present generation.

 

The pyramid of Snefrou

 

 

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