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Engineering Origins: Imhotep

Feb 07 2008 23:47
Nick Simpson
We look back again at another contributor to the great profession. This time it is further than ever!
A picture from the internets

Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt were the original proving grounds for architects, way back when there was no engineering separation we see today. While the technology of millennia ago may seem irrelevant in the times of carbon nanotubes and atomic circuits, design really should be based on backsight as well as foresight. With this in mind I decided to highlight one of the earliest polymaths in history and bona fide genius. Imhotep.

Many may be thinking, hang about, Imhotep, I remember that name from some half arsed Hollywood summer film involving tomb robbing or mummies or some other crap. Tragically that may be true, as ignorant as Hollywood producers are it isn?t hard to believe they would brand the first engineer, architect and physician named in history as some outlandish and fictional character. But more than an engineer and doctor, Imhotep was a poet and philosopher as well, possibly one of the clearest examples of a polymath I can call to mind.

It is thought that Imhotep pioneered the first use of columns in building design (around 2600 BC) and was responsible for the stepped pyramid at Saqqara, which had its incline reduced during construction due to instability. Furthermore he has been accredited with the introduction of using dressing stones on buildings.

After death Imhotep was deified, an amazing feat for a common man in Ancient Egypt, eventually becoming the god of healing.

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