Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Statuette of Imhotep

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Memphis (Mit Rahina), Egyptian Antiquities Service, found July 1909
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 16.2 cm (6 3/8 in.); W. 6.6 cm (2 5/8 in.); D. 7.3 cm (2 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1910
Accession Number:
10.175.132
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
Imhotep was adviser to King Djoser in the third dynasty and he is credited with the design of the Step Pyramid in Saqqara, the earliest pyramid in Egypt. For this and other achievements of wisdom and learning attributed to him, in later periods he became one of the only historical non-royal people to be divinized and to have a dedicated cult, which was particularly strong in the Memphite region. In copper alloy statuettes like this one, he is shown sitting, wearing his close-fitting cap and holding a scroll on his lap. An inscription on the scroll names him as Imhotep. In a symbolic sense, the scroll also serves to emphasize his wisdom and erudition, his role as a patron of scribes, and hints at the many intellectual forays into medicine, architecture, and engineering that were later ascribed to him. His attire varies, but in this instance he wears a broad collar that is articulated on the front and back of his chest and a short kilt.
Found in July 1909 in a cache at Mit Rahineh, purchased from the Egyptian Government in 1910.

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