With the unrest in Egypt in the news, I thought that starting this years’ Black History Month Extravaganza off with a bang by featuring this article about Imhotep, the world’s first recognized genius.
Imhotep “Father of Medicine” (2980 B.C.)
Imhotep, called “God of Medicine,” “Prince of Peace,” and a “Type of Christ.” Imhotep was worshipped as a god and healer from approximately 2850 B.C. to 525 B.C., and as a full deity from 525 B.C. to 550 A.D. Even kings and queens bowed at his throne. Imhotep lived during the Third Dynasty at the court of King Zoser. Imhotep was a known scribe, chief lector, priest, architect, astronomer and magician (medicine and magic were used together.) For 3000 years he was worshipped as a god in Greece and Rome. Early Christians worshipped him as the “Prince of Peace.”
Imhotep was also a poet and philosopher. He urged contentment and preached cheerfulness. His proverbs contained a “philosophy of life.” Imhotep coined the saying “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.”
When the Egyptians crossed the Mediterranean, becoming the foundation of the Greek culture, Imhotep’s teachings were absorbed there. Yet, as the Greeks were determined to assert that they were the originators of everything, Imhotep was forgotten for thousands of years and a legendary figure, Hippocrates, who came 2000 years after him became known as the Father of Medicine.
It is Imhotep says Sir William Osler, who was the real Father of Medicine. “The first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity.” Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis, gallstones, appendicitis, gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practiced some dentistry. Imhotep extracted medicine from plants. He also knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep’s reputation was very respected in early times…His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical teachings.”
James Henry Breasted says of Imhotep:
In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs; in medicine and architecture; this remarkable figure of Zoser’s reign left so notable a reputation that his name was never forgotten. He was the patron spirit of the later scribes, to whom they regularly poured out a libation from the water-jug of their writing outfit before beginning their work. The people sang of his proverbs centuries later, and 2500 years after his death, he had become a god of medicine in whom Greeks, who call him Imouthes, recognized their own Asklepios. A temple was erected to him near the Serapeum at Memphis, and at the present day, every museum possesses a bronze statue or two of the apotheosized wise man, the proverb maker, physician, and architect of Zoser.
Thanks for your attention