While traveling in Egypt, Irish architect Onchu Mac Canaan was excited to have the opportunity to meet Imohtep, the multi-talented Egyptian whose reputation as a gifted healer, priest, scientist and architect had long been the subject of the Irishman’s admiration.
Mac Canaan met the Vizier at a potential building site for the royal tomb, which Imohtep had been tasked with designing and building. As the two men stood in the early morning desert breeze, Imohtep outlined his vision for a magnificent structure that would awe and impress even the most revered King. Mac Canaan listened as the other man described the huge spherical building balanced on a smaller, block-shaped base. It would be made entirely of granite, polished to a high sheen so that the brilliant North African sun would reflect off of it, creating a shining symbol of the King’s bright reign. Imohtep was extremely anxious to get started on the project as it would doubtlessly take many years to complete.
Onchu pictured the tomb in his head and wondered aloud if a spherical shape would present too many logistical obstacles for the construction workers. How would they get the granite pieces into the very top of the sphere, for example. And if the giant ball was not going to be solid in it’s center, how did Imohtep propose to support the interior of the structure? Would it not be most disastrous for the giant sphere to crumble in upon itself? Imohtep was outraged by the Irishman’s gall. He was Imohtep, adviser to Kings, Architect to Royalty! But however angry he was, he grudgingly admitted that Mac Canaan had a good point. What was he to do? Imohtep had promised the King a monument that would shame all other monuments, and this had been his most remarkable design.
Mac Canaan immediately offered a number of suggestions. Imohtep could construct a domed structure, rather than a completely spherical one, for instance. Or perhaps the Egyptian had underestimated the inspirational qualities of a large block structure decorated with intricate carvings or artwork? He casually mentioned a revolutionary structure he had designed back home in Ireland that had seemed quite simple in design, but had been very striking once built. He called it a ‘pyramid’ and explained how a square base made it quite stable. Row upon row of ever-decreasing steps, he said, culminating in a point at the top, made it eye-catching and unique. It was, he declared, much easier to build because of the stepped walls.
Imohtep thanked his new friend for the many ideas but asserted that his original design would be the final choice. He would find a way to make it work. As the two parted, Mac Canaan wished the Egyptian much success with his project and Imohtep invited him to return to visit and see the progress.
Alas, Onchu Mac Canaan was never able to return to Egypt. Had he done so, he would have seen that Imohtep, upon realizing the folly and impracticality of his spherical design (and under threat of death from the King), had opted to steal Mac Canaan’s “pyramid” design instead and claim it as his own.
And so it was that the Irish had once again been robbed of their proper place in global history.