Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Imhotep

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 10.2 cm (4 in.); W. 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in.); D. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904
Accession Number:
04.2.418
Not on view
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. Imhotep’s scroll 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 garment varies, but in this instance he wears a .long pleated kilt wrapped about his body so that its ends fall forward from his waist in a vertically pleated panel.
Collection of Judge Elbert E. Farman, formed when he was U.S. consul general in Egypt 1876–84. Donated to the museum by Darius Ogden Mills, New York, in 1904.

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