Imhotep, an “intensivist” at the time of the Egyptian kings!

Imhotep, an “intensivist” at the time of the Egyptian kings


Herrero S. IMHOTEP, an “intensivist” at the time of the Egyptian Kings. 2011 ” Journal of earls in Intensive Care Medicine 2011. Volumen 1. Nº 22

It was one of the most notable of the era of Egyptian kings and was also deified. Apart from being the doctor Dyeser, High Priest of Heliopolis, which gained the status of god in their own right. In the New Kingdom he was venerated as the patron of scribes and was also identified with Nefertum son of Ptah.

It is also associated with Thoth (“The One Dyehut” nome of Lower Egypt XV. local and creator God Hermopolis Magna or city of Hermes in Egypt called Jmun) and became the patron of wisdom and medicine. He is shown seated with a scroll unfolded on his knees and a cap (a scribe). The Greeks identified him with Asclepius or Aesculapius was worshiped as the god of medicine.

Imhotep (in Greek: Imhotep, Spanish pronunciation: Im-ho-tep), was known as a scholar, physician, astronomer, and the first architect known in history (about 2690 to 2610 BC).

High Priest of Heliopolis, was vizier of Pharaoh Necherjet Dyeser (Zoser), and designed the Step Pyramid of Saqqara , Dynasty III. The meaning of the word “Imhotep” is “he who comes in peace.” 1

The first “scientist” whose name has come. Not only was a doctor, was also an architect and astronomer, this indicates that his knowledge of calculus and geometry needed to master these sciences.

He included numerous honorary degrees:

Chancellor or Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, First after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Lord, High Priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep the builder, sculptor, maker of stone vessels … Registration at the base of the statue Dyeser (Zoser), found in Saqqara and patron of scribes.

Before him, no one had his name inscribed alongside that of a pharaoh, and his title does not mention the doctor, but the producer of containers (creator of the vessels of stone).

He was also known as an architect, ” In a rock of granite on the first cataract of the Nile , a sculptor who lived much later [therefore the facts are not entirely accurate] had carved in hieroglyphics the story of how he saved his Imhotep country, including famine. “

The inscription with the name and titulatura Imhotep, in the 3rd row to the left, and the Horus name of Djoser . This inscription is found at the base of a statue of Djoser, which indicates Imhotep was a real man instead of a god

It was Imhotep who is credited with having designed the first pyramid-shaped building (above) and began with hewn stone, instead of all the mud bricks. If you look at the history of ancient Egypt, we see the evidence that was during the time of Zoser Egypt became a nation truly great – and who had gathered the wealth of all the surrounding nations by selling them grain during the famine .

In ancient egypt medicine was public (yes, yes like ours) was free, so, accessible to everyone, for all social classes and is available in Egypt. Depended on the Temple was called the Institution (Sanitarium) and in its vicinity was exercised both original shows (school) and therapies (healing rooms). He was also available at any time. It is most curiously similar to ours.

This institution also manages care places within the temple, and especially in an area of ​​care, called a posteriori “hospital” was not a resort as previously believed, but spaces priestly holy water-filled tubs, where the submerged patient was waiting for a divine healing. The standards of learning and practice were promulgated by the king’s physician , who was on the cusp of the medical hierarchy, below him were the physicians of the palace, one of which Doctor was boss of the north and south, a kind of Minister of Health. Under him were the inspectors, supervisors and teachers of physicians (called by the Egyptian sun-nu). In a step lower placed the vast majority of practicing physicians.

The importance of Egyptian medicine results in the figure of Imhotep, considered the founder of Egyptian medicine, and author of the Edwin Smith papyrus about cures, ailments and anatomical observations (though this text was probably written around 1700 BC ., with additions from other doctors) 2.

IMHOTEP, The Intensivist !

The mythic-religious conception of the disease in Egypt Imhotep led to magical-religious approach and empirical medical therapy, ie, a combination of rituals, practices and extensive surgical drug formulary. Also been some attempts to rationalize such as those seen in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which describes 48 clinical cases without mentioning causes and magical treatments and providing a rational approach for the treatment of certain diseases and injuries. 2

The papyrus includes topographically ordered injuries and fractures of the skull, neck, upper limbs, chest to the thoracolumbar spine. The text of the latter case (48) comes to an unexpected end in the middle of a sentence. 3

The papyrus is surprisingly well-structured. In addition to the topographic structure of the book above, all cases are documented in a similar manner. Each case includes the following headings: Introduction, “title”, “significant symptoms,” Diagnosis, “” and is considered treatable if it was a “recommended treatment.” 3

This text Imhotep recommended inhalation anesthetic opioid (father of anesthesia). Describe anatomical observations, examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of numerous injuries in detail including their performance (such as intensivists). Treatments are rational, and in one case, uses magical remedies. The papyrus contains the first descriptions of cranial sutures, the meninges, the outer surface of the brain, cerebrospinal fluid and intracranial pulsations. According to an engraving of a tombstone at Saqqara Imhotep recommended the application of pressure in the carotid arteries to relieve the headache by reducing blood flow to the brain. Imhotep was stated that an index pulse of the heart and the patient’s condition 4.

The medicine was regulated from the time of Imhotep, as spelled out in an inscription on a wall at Saqqara, with the ethical rules governing the profession well defined: the location of the facility care facilities, monitoring of these, activity monitoring the sun-nu, the estimate of performance, disciplinary actions. He was not allowed to use therapeutic methods that come out of orthodoxy could only use those that defined the authority of the classical treatises and in this case but the results were not good was free from blame.

Imhotep is still held in high esteem for doctors who, as the eminent nineteenth-century physician Sir William Osler (the “Father of Modern Medicine”), considers him “the first figure of a physician who stands out clearly from the mists of old. “In the Christian” Father of Medicine “.


    1. ↑ Orlando Mejía Rivera Introducción crítica a la historia de la Medicina (en español). Publicado por Universidad de Caldas, 1999; pág 447. ISBN 958-8041-19-8
    2. a b c Fernando Lamata Cotanda, Fernando Lamata, José María Segovia de Arana Manual de administración y gestión sanitaria (en español). Publicado por Ediciones Díaz de Santos, 1998; pág 11. ISBN 84-7978-346-X
    3. ↑Joost J. van Middendorp, Gonzalo M. Sanchez, and Alwyn L. Burridge The Edwin Smith papyrus: a clinical reappraisal of the oldest known document on spinal injuries Eur Spine J (2010) 19:1815–1823
    4. ↑ Juan Surós Batlló, Juan Surós Forns. Semiología médica y técnica exploratoria (en español). Publicado por Elsevier España, 2001; pág 234. ISBN 84-458-1080-4
    5. ↑ Manuel B. Cossío, José Pijoán, Jean Roger Rivière. Summa Artis, historia general del arte (en español). Publicado por Espasa-Calpe, 1931; pág 69. Procedente de la Universidad de Michigan. Digitalizado el 25 Ene 2007
Referencias digitales
  • Rosa Thode, El panteón egipcio, Imhotep en
  • Desroches Noblecourt, Christiane (2006). La herencia del Antiguo Egipto. Edhasa.


Herrero S. IMHOTEP, an “intensivist” at the time of the Egyptian Kings. 2011 ” Journal of earls in Intensive Care Medicine 2011. Volumen 1. Nº 22

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