How popular was the name Imhotep in Ancient Egypt, and what other great personages bore this name?

His name is said to mean "the one who comes in peace", and there are similar names like Amenhotep, Ptahhotep, etc., all of which contain Hotep which roughly translates to "to be at peace".

Yet while there's four Amenhoteps, I can only find the one very famous Imhotep and no other.

PS. Could a name like Imhotep be adopted by the rest of the nobility and by the common classes? Perhaps there were hoards of Imhoteps, all of them bakers and butchers and painters and soldiers, and just that one Imhotep got super famous and deified and remembered?

  • One is the loneliest number ..
    – Johan88
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


Short Answer

The name Imhotep was used long after the time the priest, craftsman and chancellor to the pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty lived; some 2,000 years after Imhotep's death, he was deified as a god of medicine and healing. Although we have no evidence from the time he lived that he was a physician, his deification was at least one reason that the name 'Imhotep' was given to both men and women in later times. As so much evidence from ancient Egypt has been destroyed, though, it's hard to say how common it was.


Given that The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, Margaret Bunson's Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt and The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt - not to mention googling (for example, here and here) - all fail to mention any other individuals by the name of Imhotep, we can reasonably assume that there are no other known, notable ancient Egyptians with that name.


In the Late Period (including the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods) the names of the “greater” gods were rarely used as personal names....There were apparently no restrictions for the names of “lesser” divinities such as Bes (Bs, I 98,14; DN 146), Smithis (5smtt I 322,17-18 [read cT.t, cTtj.t]), 5mtj (DN 968), Tutu/Tithoes (6wtw I 379,15-16; DN 1273-1275), and of course the divinized individuals Imhotep and Amenhotep son Hapu, all of which were widely appropriated as male proper names.

(my emphasis)

Source: Günter Vittmann, Personal Names: Structures and Patterns (UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology)

Vittmann also cites an example:

On her funerary stela, Taimhotep, a noble lady of Ptolemaic Memphis, tells the reader that her son Imhotep was born on the festival of his divinized name-sake, who had granted her (the mother), by oracle, the highly desired birth of a son, who was also called Petubastis.

(my emphasis)

The above cited article, Ancient Language and Names, also goes into some detail on names in ancient Egypt, going back to the Old Kingdom. Another example can (or at least could) be found on a statuette at the British Museum:

one figure is dedicated to Imhotep by Ptah-mes, and another by a devotee who is also called Imhotep.

Source: Jamieson B. Hurry, 'Imhotep: The Vizier and Physician of of King Zoser and afterwards the Egyptian God of Medicine' (OUP, 1926)

enter image description here

Imhotep as a deity, Ptolemaic period. Source: Musée du Louvre.

  • 1
    Marvelous. Thanks. I'll see if anyone turns up any more info.
    – Johan88
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 12:33
  • 1
    Omg. Thank you so much.
    – Johan88
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 13:41

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