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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

The First Known Architect in History

Posted by Holli McRae on 3/25/13 1:19 PM

Thought to be the veryImhotep first Architect first architect in history was Imhotep. As one of the officials of the Pharaoh Djoser, he designed the Pyramid of Djoser (the Step Pyramid) at Saqqara in Egypt in 2630 – 2611 BC.He may have been responsible for the first known use of columns in architecture. As an instigator of Egyptian culture, Imhotep's idealized image lasted well into the Ptolemaic period. The Egyptian historian Manetho credited him with inventing the method of a stone-dressed building during Djoser's reign, though he was not the first to actually build with stone. Stone walling, flooring, lintels, and jambs had appeared sporadically during the Archaic Period, though it is true that a building of the Step Pyramid's size and made entirely out of stone had never before been constructed. Before Djoser, pharaohs were buried in mastaba tombs.

Imhotep was always conceived holding his medical scrolls and his architectural drawings. He was a model figure who defined the training and selection process of all succeeding Egyptian priests and architects within Egypt’s jurisdiction. Although the step pyramid for King Zoser of the 3rd Dynasty was important for the reason that it had exemplified unbelievable skill and the introduction of building with stone, it was also very symbolic. It architectonically represented Ptah-TaTanen, the architect of the universe, and his creation where he evoked the primeval hill (waret) to rise from the primeval waters of nun. The Pyramid of Steps was also designed to serve as a place to worship the sun that symbolized the dead king’s ascent to the sun and passage across the heavens. The architecture highlighted Imhotep’s abilities as an architect, a religious priest and an astronomer. Additionally, in the construction of the Step Pyramid Complex was intended to forever honor the dead.

Egyptians considered Imhotep as a creative and inventive intellectual by the way he enlarged the burial site at Sakkara that was also constructed in stages. He amplified the existing tomb by adding five mastabas that decrease in sizes creating this unique form of architecture known as the great pyramid of steps. The burial compartments are great accomplishments of Imhotep’s work in design and engineering as well as debuted the progression of numerous complex structures such as tunnels, mortuaries, chapels, shafts and rooms for offerings. The massive tombs consisted of mud-brick walls and the style of the structure imitated a palace portico probably to mimic Djoser’s palace in Memphis where he lived at one point in his life.

The fact that Imhotep was an architect, which was extremely unique at that time, got him special treatments from the royal family, several positions and privileges inside the royal palace. This earned him the title of chief of engineering, amongst other essential titles such as prime minister, crown prince and head of the Royal Court. Later, his architecture had tremendous influence on Christian religion and architecture. He was also honored by the Romans, particularly the emperors Claudius and Tiberius whom had inscriptions that praised Imhotep on the walls of many of their Egyptian temples.

The preservation of the kings body was very important to Imhotep, like the conservation of the nation was a responsibility. As a priest who knew all ancient practices and rules, it was a given that he had mastered the understanding of the nature of building. Amongst other values, for Imhotep, it meant definiteness.

Although not certain, it has been believed that during a 40 year period of the Third Dynasty, Imhotep influenced and was the ultimate master builder of numerous other projects which have been finished. He wrote an encyclopedia of architecture that was used as the main bases and as guidance for Egyptian builders thousands of years after his death.

 

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