The Imhotep Museum in the Saqqara Necropolis is not large, but it contains masterpieces from the entire three-thousandth history of Ancient Egypt - from the first to the last dynasties and the Greco-Roman era, said renowned Egyptologist Vasil Dobrev, who heads the Saqqara mission of the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo (IFAO), to BTA.
A few days ago, the museum was reopened to visitors after reconstruction. Along with the renovation of the building, the exhibition was renovated, adding the latest discoveries in the necropolis of the first ancient Egyptian capital Memphis. In Saqqara is the first stone building in the world - the stepped pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser, built by Imhotep. It is they who occupy a central place in the exhibition.
"The first and most important object that people see in the museum is related to Imhotep personally. This is the base of a statue of Djoser, located on a plinth. He steps on nine bows that depict the enemies of Egypt, and in front of him are three birds with open wings - this is the people of Egypt. On the plinth itself is the name of the pharaoh, and to the right of it are the names and titles of Imhotep," Dobrev explains keenly, pointing out that it is very rare for the names of someone who is not a pharaoh to be inscribed on a statue of Pharaoh.
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This is the only document discovered about Imhotep of his era - the Third Dynasty, around 2700 BC. "That's why it's so important, there's no one else for him from this era. Imhotep is a prince by inheritance, has many high titles, including Minister of Finance and priest of Heliopolis. He is best known as an architect, but he is much more, he is both a statesman and an ideologue. It may be part of the pharaoh's family," the researcher said.
Architectural elements found in Djoser's complex and schemes of buildings allow visitors to go back nearly 5000,<> years in time. Among the exhibits are some of the world's first mathematical instructions on how to make a circle. "This is very interesting because it shows that the ancient Egyptians knew how to make a circle," Vasil Dobrev points out.
Another artifact on which the scientist draws our attention is a statuette of Imhotep who becomes a deity. "He's one of the few people who is deified. During the New Kingdom, or nearly 1500,<> years after he lived, Imhotep was considered the deity of scribes and later of medicine. A large number of his statuettes have been made."
One of the biggest mysteries is where is the tomb of Imhotep, continues his fascinating story Dobrev. "An interesting fact is that Imhotep is associated with the ancient Greek healing god Asclepius. The Greeks associated him with Asclepius, and when visiting Saqqara, they said that before going to the tomb of the Serapeum bulls, they visited the temple of Asclepius, that is, perhaps the tomb of Imhotep. So somewhere in Saqqara before the Serapeum there is a place where maybe the tomb of Imhotep is located."
There are sanctuaries dedicated to Asclepius all over the Mediterranean. Remains of asklepions have also been discovered in Bulgaria. One of them is in Kyustendil, where Ancient Pautalia was located.
According to Vasil Dobrev, such a sanctuary may exist in Velingrad. "In Velingrad is Kleptuza, the lake where there is the largest flow of cold water on the Balkan Peninsula. If we remove the 'a', there remains Kleptis, which may come from Asclepius."
In one of the halls of the museum "Imhotep" we see the name of Vasil Dobrev - in the list of archaeologists who contributed to the study of Sakara. "I had no idea there was such a list and, to my surprise, I saw my name," the Egyptologist replied when asked about the honorary list and recalled the opening day in 2006, which was also attended by the wife of then-Egyptian President Susannah Mubarak. "Next to me was the director of Saqqara and I asked him why they put my name on. Because you've discovered a new necropolis, he said. They decided without asking."
In 2001, Vasil Dobrev discovered a new completely unknown necropolis in Saqqara, which has not happened for many years. "Archaeologists work mainly on existing excavations in Saqqara. Something has been discovered by Gaston Maspero, Auguste Mariette or someone else, and they continue and develop it," he specifies, and his thoughts go back to the museum exhibition.
The scientist advises tourists to pay attention to the model in front of the entrance of the museum to imagine what the place looked like thousands of years ago. Born in Varna and defended his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris, an Egyptologist believes that it is important to try to put ourselves in the place of the ancient people in order to understand them.
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