You are on page 1of 75

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MEDICINE

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

INTRODUCTION
Ancient egyptian medicine refers to the practices of healing common illnesses in ancient egypt from c 33rd century BC untill the persian invasion of 525 BC. This medicine was highly advanced for the time, and included simple, noninvasive surgery, setting of bones and an extensive set of pharmacopoeia.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 2

INTRODUCTION
Unlike the injuries caused by accidents or fighting, which were dealt with by the zwn.w (sunu), or scorpion stings and snake bites for which the xrp srqt (kherep serqet), the exorcist of Serqet, knew the appropriate spells and remedies, illnesses and their causes were mysterious. The Egyptians explained them as the work of the gods, caused by the presence of evil spirits or their poisons, and cleansing the body was the way to rid the body of their influence. Incantations, prayers to the gods - above all to Sekhmet the goddess of healing, curses, and threats, often accompanied by the injection of nasty smelling and tasting medicines into the various bodily orifices, were hoped to prove effective.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 3

SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Until the 19th century, the main sources of information about ancient Egyptian medicine were writings from later in antiquity. Homer c. 800 BC remarked in the Odyssey: "In Egypt, the men are more skilled in medicine than any of human kind" and "the Egyptians were skilled in medicine more than any other art. The Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt around 440 BC and wrote extensively of his observations of their medicinal practices. Pliny the Elder also wrote favorably of them in historical review.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 4

SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Hippocrates (the "father of medicine"), Herophilos, Erasistratus and later Galen studied at the temple of Amenhotep, and acknowledged the contribution of ancient Egyptian medicine to Greek medicine. In 1822, the translation of the Rosetta stone finally allowed the translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions and papyri, including many related to medical matters. Other documents as the Edwin Smith papyrus (1550 BC), Hearst papyrus (1450 BC), and Berlin papyrus (1200 BC) also provide valuable insight into ancient egyptian medicine. The Edwin Smith papyrus for example mentioned research methods, the making of a diagnosis of the patient, and the setting of a treatment.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 5

SOURCES OF INFORMATION
The Ebers papyrus c.1550 BC is full of incantations and foul applications meant to turn away disease-causing demons, and also includes 877 prescriptions. It may also contain the earliest documented awareness of tumors, if the poorly understood ancient medical terminology has been correctly interpreted. Other information comes from the images that often adorn the walls of Egyptian tombs and the translation of the accompanying inscriptions.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

ROLE OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE IN HISTORY


Egyptian physicians were much sought after in the Ancient World, despite the fact that possibly but little was added to the canon of knowledge after the First Intermediate Period (about 2000 BCE). Ramses II sent physicians to the king of Hatti and many rulers, the Persian Achaemenids among them, had Egyptian doctors in attendance. Their treatments were based on examination, followed by diagnosis. Descriptions of the examination - the most exacting part of a physician's job - are lengthier than both the diagnosis or the recommended treatment (cf. the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus).
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 7

ROLE OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE IN HISTORY


The pots containing medicines were (at least occasionally) labeled, stating the remedy's composition and how to use it. A certain little pink pot bears the following hieratic inscription: which, read from right to left, means: Saw dust, acacia leaves, galena, goose fat. Bandage with it. The label does not mention the body part to which the salve is to be applied, but acacia tree products and galena were frequently used to treat eye complaints.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 8

ROLE OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE IN HISTORY


Treatment was conservative: if no remedy was known then only such steps were to be taken which would not endanger the patient. Some head wounds for instance, considered as an ailment not to be treated might just be anointed externally with an unguent forestalling infection or the patient might be tied at his mooring stakes, until the period of his injury passes by in order to prevent him from causing further damage to himself.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 9

ROLE OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE IN HISTORY


On the other hand much of the ancient Egyptian pharmacopoeia and many medical practices were ineffective, if not downright deleterious: e.g. excrement used in medicines will only in the rarest of cases prove to be wholesome, and if applied as wound dressing may well cause tetanus poisoning, yet dung continued to be used in Europe until the Middle Ages. Egyptian theories and practices influenced the Greeks, who furnished many of the physicians in the Roman Empire, and through them Arab and European medical thinking for centuries to come
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 10

WRITINGS
Throughout the 3,000 year long history of the Ancient Egyptians, they used three kinds of writings in their religious, secular, and medical texts. They began with hieroglyphics, transitioned to hieratic, and finally developed demotic. At different times in history, all three writing styles were used in recording the history and happenings of the ancient Egyptian world.
Hieroglyphic Writing Hieratic Writing Demotic Writing
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 11

HIEROGLYPHIC WRITING
The hieroglyphic scripts are of a pictorial nature and the oldest written form of the ancient Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs represented consonants, or groups of consonants. Hieroglyphics can be used in two ways. As a direct representation, where the symbol means just what it shows. More often symbols were used phonetically, meaning it did not stand for itself, but for its name Some hieroglyphic symbols had more than one meaning, and each symbol had a distinct sound associated with it. There were no vowels in hieroglyphic writing, and more than one consonant were often symbolized.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

12

HIEROGLYPHIC WRITING

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

13

HIEROGLYPHIC WRITING

The hieroglyphic representation of some anatomical structures.

The Egyptian word for doctor was swnw. Above, a) Full writing for the word doctor, which is rarely seen, b) Form for the word doctor normally seen, c) Writing for female doctor, and d) Unusual form of word for doctor.
14

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

HIERATIC WRITING
Hieratic is considered the "priestly" script, and was extensively used on manuscripts and paintings in the ancient Egyptian world up to about 650B.C.. It was adapted from hieroglyphic script for a quicker record of events or literature that were of less significance. The early hieratic has a more fluent form than hieroglyphs, and the individual signs are less pictorial and more abbreviated. The hieratic inscriptions were usually written in black ink with a brush made of reed.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 15

HIERATIC WRITING

TOP-HIERATIC/BOTTOM-HIEROGLYPHIC TRANSLATION
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 16

DEMOTIC WRITING
Demotic writing saw its beginnings during the 25th/26th Dynasty, 747 B.C. - 525 B.C. This writing language developed out of hieratic, as hieratic developed from hieroglyphic, and was more illegible and the strokes were quicker than hieratic. Demotic texts are never transcribed into hieroglyphs because of the difficulty involved in finding a lost image in a short hand of a short hand. It was mostly used in administrative and private texts, but also in stories and inscriptions. However, Demotic never replaced hieratic completely. In fact, during the height of demotic writing, hieratic was still being used in religious texts.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

17

DEMOTIC WRITING

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

18

PAPYRUS

Papyrus (pronounced /ppars/) is a thick paperlike material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt. Papyrus is first known to have been used in ancient Egypt (at least as far back as the First dynasty), but it was also used throughout the Mediterranean region. Ancient Egypt used this plant as a writing material and for boats, mattresses, mats, rope, sandals, and baskets.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 19

MEDICAL PAPYRUS
Every medical discipline throughout history and throughout the world has developed a way to record the observations and remedies inherent to any medical discipline. The ancient Egyptians were one of the first to begin a systemic record of their ventures into medical practice. These papyri are a testament to the ingenuity and skill that is evident in Egyptian medicine.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 20

THE EGYPTIAN MEDICAL PAPYRI


These include a mixture of straight forward medical examinations and conclusions, along with discussions of treatments and remedies to resolve the diagnosis. Two distinct trends are discernible in Egyptian medicine, as revealed in the medical papyri. 1. The "magico-religious trend" focused on incantation, prayer, and worship to the gods. 2. The "empirico-rational trend" was based on experience and observation, but was lacking in mystical features.

However, ancient Egyptians incorporated both trends into one distinct form of medical practice that endured for thousands of years.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 21

THE EGYPTIAN MEDICAL PAPYRI


NAME BERLIN PAPYRUS HEARST PAPYRUS KAHUN PAPYRUS RAMESSEUM MEDICAL PAPYRUS EDWIN-SMITH PAPYRUS EBERS PAPYRUS TIME PLACE WHERE KEPT 21ST OR LATER CENTURY BC BERLIN, GERMANY 20TH OR LATER CENTURY BC UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA, USA 19TH CENTURY BC 18TH CENTURY BC 16TH OR EARLIER CENTURY BC 16TH CENTURY BC (1550 BC) UNIV. COLLEGE, LONDON -----------------------------------NEWYORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE, USA UNIV. OF LEIPZIG, GERMANY

CHESTER BEATTY MEDICAL PAPYRUS


BROOKLYN PAPYRUS CARLSBERG PAPYRI

12TH CENTURY BC
4TH OR LATER CENTURY BC 2ND AND LATER CENTURY BC
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

BRITISH MEUSEUM, LONDON


BROOKLYN MEUSEUM, USA UNIV. OF COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
22

IMHOTEP -- FATHER OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE


Most educated estimates of when medicine first appeared lead us to Ancient Egypt. Around 2725 B.C., a man by the name of Imhotep was practicing medicine, building pyramids, and indulging in astrology. Imhotep existed as a mythological figure in the minds of most scholars until the end of the nineteenth century, when he was established as a real historical personage.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 23

IMHOTEP -- FATHER OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE


Master Physicians
can be afforded by the very wealthy

Pharoah Zozers Physician


Adviser Architect on some Pyramids Healer

c2600 BC Becomes God of Medicine


For Greeks and Egyptians c500 BC
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 24

IMHOTEP -- FATHER OF EGYPTIAN MEDICINE


"This statue is a depiction of Imhotep as an idol of the people of Ancient Egypt. Statues such as this fueled the debate over whether Imhotep was a true to life figure or a mythical manifestation."

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

25

DEITIES -- MYSTICISM
The Egyptians brought a number of deities into close relationship with medicine. They did this through the creation of religious imagery and artifacts. By worshiping and praying to these artifacts, ancient Egyptians felt that they would conjure the relative powers of each god or goddess. The literature of the temples preserved prescrptions used for the treatment of patients. These prescriptions were taken while making invocations to the gods Ra, Isis, or Horus. It is thought that Egyptian medicine was purely empirical and became magical through the influence of the Babylonian priests. However, mysticism certainly had an enormous impact on the practice and progression of medicine in the Egyptian world.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

26

DEITIES -- MYSTICISM
"The protective goddess Taweret, as depicted in this statue amulet dated 1,000 B.C., was believed to have a special role in childbirth. This statue has the head of a hippopotamus, the legs and arms of a lion, and the tail of a crocodile. This type of idolic representation was widespread in ancient Egyptian medicine."

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

27

DEITIES -- MYSTICISM

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

28

PRACTICES
Medical knowledge in ancient Egypt had an excellent reputation, and rulers of other empires would ask the Egyptian pharaoh to send them their best physician to treat their loved ones. Egyptians had some knowledge of human anatomy . For example, in the classic mummification process, mummifiers knew how to insert a long hooked implement through a nostril, breaking the thin bone of the brain case and remove the brain .
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 29

PRACTICES
Egyptian physicians were aware of the existence of the pulse and of a connection between pulse and heart. Quite a few medical practices were effective, such as many of the surgical procedures given in the Edwin Smith papyrus. Mostly, the physicians' advice for staying healthy was to wash and shave the body, including under the arms, and this may have prevented infections. They also advised patients to look after their diet, and avoid foods such as raw fish or other animals considered to be unclean.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 30

PRACTICES
Many practices were ineffective or harmful. Michael D. Parkins says that 72% of 260 medical prescriptions in the Hearst Papyrus had no known curative elements, and many contained animal dung which contains products of fermentation and molds, some of them having curative properties, but also bacteria posing a grave threat of infection. Being unable to distinguish between the original infection and the unwholesome effects of the faeces treatment, they may have been impressed by the few cases when the patient's condition improved.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 31

PRACTICES
The author of the Smith Papyrus even had a vague idea of a cardiac system, although not of blood circulation and he was unable, or deemed it unimportant, to distinguish between blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. They developed their theory of "channels" that carried air, water and blood to the body by analogies with the River Nile; if it became blocked, crops became unhealthy and they applied this principle to the body. If a person was unwell, they would use laxatives to unblock the "channels".
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 32

PRACTICES
Heart as key to concepts of anatomy and physiology

The metu-essential to life and health


Imbalances within metu as cause of pain and illness

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

33

HERBAL MEDICINE
Herbs played a major part in Egyptian medicine. The plant medicines mentioned in the Ebers papyrus for instance include opium, cannabis, myrrh, frankincense, fennel, cassia, senna, thyme, henna, juniper, aloe, linseed and castor oil though some of the translations are less than certain. Egyptians thought garlic and onions aided endurance, and consumed large quantities of them.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 34

HERBAL MEDICINE
Raw garlic was routinely given to asthmatics and to those suffering with bronchial-pulmonary complaints. Onions helped against problems of the digestive system. Coriander, C. Sativum, was considered to have cooling, stimulant, carminative and digestive properties. Cumin, Cumin cyminum, is an umbelliferous herb indigenous to Egypt. The seeds were considered to be a stimulant and effective against flatulence.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 35

HERBAL MEDICINE
Leaves from many plants, such as willow, sycamore, acacia or the ym-tree, were used in poultices. Tannic Acid derived from acacia seeds commonly helped for cooling the vessels and heal burns. Castor oil, and dates, were used as laxatives. Tape worms, the snakes in the belly, were dealt with by an infusion of pomegranate root in water, which was strained and drunk. The alkaloids contained in it paralyzed the worms' nervous system, and they relinquished their hold.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

36

HERBAL MEDICINE
Ulcers were treated with yeast, as were stomach ailments. Honey and grease formed part of many wound treatments, mother's milk was occasionally given against viral diseases like the common cold, fresh meat laid on open wounds and sprains, and animal dung was thought to be effective at times. Malachite used as an eye-liner also had therapeutic value. In a country where eye infections were endemic, the effects of its germicidal qualities were appreciated even if the reasons for its effectiveness were not understood .
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 37

SURGERY
First surgeons in history First circumcision scene-shown carved on the wall of 6th Dynasty painting.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

38

SURGERY
The knives used had stone blades. Flint or obsidian have edges sharper than modern surgical steel. When metal instruments were finally used to any extent, the act of cauterizing accompanied it. In some procedures, the blade was heated until it glowed red, and then used to make incisions. It cut as well as sealed up the blood vessels, limiting bleeding
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 39

SURGERY
Trepanation, practiced in many early cultures for a number of reasons, is not mentioned in any of the medical papyri, but seems to have been performed occasionally using mallet and chisel. Just 14 skulls, some healed or partially healed, have been found. Limb amputations were also performed.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 40

DENTISTRY
As their diet included much abrasive material (sand and small stone particles from grinding the corn) the teeth of elderly ancient Egyptians were often in a very poor state. Mutnodjmed, pharaoh Horemheb's second wife and sister of Nefertiti, had lost all her teeth when she died in her forties. The Ebers Papyrus lists a number of remedies dealing with teeth, though the complaint at times is a bit obscure.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 41

DENTISTRY
Head of the mummy of Amenhotep III. He had lost some of his front teeth due to alveolar abscesses of which he was still suffering at the time of his death. (The matter filling the mouth cavity is resin used during mummification)
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 42

DENTISTRY The profession of dental physician seems to have existed since the early third millennium: Hesi-re is the first known Doctor of the Tooth.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

43

DENTISTRY
There were also remedies for strengthening a tooth, for expelling aches from the mouth, and for treating the blood eater - whatever that was. Swollen gums were treated with a concoction of cumin, incense and onion. Opium, the toxicity of which was well known, might be given against severe pain. At times holes were drilled into the jawbone in order to drain abscesses. But extraction of teeth, which might have saved the lives of many a patient, was rarely if ever practised.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 44

PROSTHESES AND COSMETICS


Prostheses were generally of a cosmetic character, such as an artificial toe made of cartonnage at the British Museum, or added as a preparation for afterlife such as a forearm on a mummy in Arlington Museum (England). A wooden big toe prosthesis has also been found which must have improved the walking capabilities of its wearer, a fifty to sixty year old woman, after her big toe had been amputated, possibly because of gangrene. A glass eye with a white eyeball and a black pupil, but lacking an iris, was probably inserted into the empty eye socket of a mummy rather than used by a living person

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

45

PROSTHESES AND COSMETICS


Physicians performed other cosmetic tasks as well. Apart from prescribing lotions, salves and unguents for skin care, they also produced remedies against the loss of hair and graying, which was combatted by an ointment made with blood from the horn of a black bull. Hair loss was hoped to be stopped by a mixture of honey and fats from crocodiles, lions, hippos, cats, snakes, and ibex.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 46

PROSTHESES AND COSMETICS

Prosthesis worn by the owner while still alive, 3rd Intermediate Period
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

Cosmetic prosthesis, the toenail inlay has been lost;


47

MEDICAL/SURGICAL KIT
1) knives; (2) drill; (3) saw; (4) forceps or pincers; (5) censer; (6) hooks; (7) bags tied with string; (8, 10) beaked vessel; (11) vase with burning incense; (12) Horus eyes; (13) scales; (14) pot with flowers of Upper and Lower Egypt; (15) pot on pedestal; (16) graduated cubit or papyrus scroll without side knot (or a case holding reed scalpels); (17) shears; (18) spoons.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 48

MEDICAL/SURGICAL KIT

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

49

CONCEPTS OF ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY


Understanding of gross anatomy and physiology

Mummification
Autopsies of mummies

Dissection of animals

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

50

CONCEPTS OF ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY

Hieroglyphic terms for face


DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 51

THE DISEASES
Everyday complaints like stomach upsets, bowel trouble and headaches went probably mostly untreated, even if the physicians could offer remedies: For the evacuation of the belly: Cow's milk, 1; .grains, 1; honey 1; mash, sift, cook; take in four portions. To remedy the bowels: Melilot 1; dates, 1; cook in oil; anoint sick part. To refresh an aching head: Flour, 1; incense, 1; wood of wa, 1; waneb plant, 1; mint (?), 1; horn of a stag, 1; sycamore (?) seeds, 1; seeds of [ (?)], 1; mason's plaster (?), 1; seeds of zart, 1; water, 1; mash, apply to the head.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 52

THE DISEASES
The common cold plagued the ancient Egyptians as it still does us today, and their remedy, the milk of a mother who has given birth to a boy, was probably as effective as anything we have got today. Moreover they had a tried and true spell to go with it. May you flow out, catarrh, son of catarrh, who breaks the bones, who destroys the skull, who hacks in the marrow, who causes the seven openings in the head to ache. (Ebers papyrus)
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 53

THE DISEASES
Bilharziasis (schistosomiasis) - a disease difficult not to contract in a country flooded for months every year - a common cause of anaemia, female infertility, a debilitating loss of resistance to other diseases and subsequent death. The Ebers Papyrus addresses some of the symptoms of the disease and in two columns discusses treatment and prevention of bleeding in the urinal tract (haematuria). The Hearst Papyrus cites antimony disulfide as a remedy.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 54

THE DISEASES
Insect borne diseases like malaria and trachoma, an eye disease, were endemic; plagues spread along the trade routes. The following charm has been interpreted as referring to the plague, as one of its symptoms is a dark discoloration of the skin: Spell for the disease of the Asiatics: Who is allknowing like Re? Who is thus all-knowing? This god who blackens the body with char-coal? May this Highest God be seized! (Hearst papyrus)
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 55

THE DISEASES
Infectious diseases were rampant in the relatively densely populated Nile valley, where practically the whole population lived within a narrow strip of land along the river, which at times was only a few hundred metres wide, and their incidence was dependent to some degree on the seasons. Smallpox, diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, jaundice and relapsing fever were responsible for many deaths, above all during spring and summer.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 56

THE DISEASES
Trichinae afflicted the pigs, parasitic worms and tuberculosis the cattle and were occasionally passed on to the human population. Human tuberculosis was widespread; Leprosy on the other hand, caused by bacteria similar to the tubercle bacillus, is badly documented and was apparently relatively rare.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 57

THE DISEASES

A child's vertebra showing signs of tubercular infection


DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 58

THE DISEASES
Silicosis of the lungs, the result of breathing in airborne sand particles, is documented and was a frequent cause of death, as was pneumonia. The various kinds of malignant tumors were almost as frequent then as they are nowadays in comparable age and gender groups. Eye infections were at least in part prevented by the application of bactericidal eye paint. Prescription for the eye, to be used for all diseases which occur in this organ: Human brain, divide into its two halves, mix one half with honey, smear on the eye in the evening, dry the other half, mash, sift, smear on the eye in the morning. (Ebers papyrus)
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 59

THE DISEASES
The hard physical toil, often repetitive, caused great harm to the bones and joints of the labourers after only a few years of being subjected to it. Those who survived into old age were victims of the same infirmities that still plague the aged like cardio-vascular diseases, arthritis, from which Ramses-II suffered, and probably dementia. Congenital diseases were not infrequent and often brought about early death as the burials of infants bear out. Their causes may have been environmental, nutritional or social. the occurrence of a sixth finger or toe in mummies, interpreted by some as the result of inbreeding, has been noted a number of times, as has the high incidence of spina bifida occulta in the Bahariye Oasis during Graeco-Roman times.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 60

THE DISEASES
Open wounds were often treated with honey, but sepsis was one of the commonest causes of death. When lockjaw set in due to a tetanus infection, physicians knew they were powerless against this affliction: Thou shouldst say regarding him: "One having a gaping wound in his head penetrating to the bone, perforating the sutures of his skull; he has developed ty, his mouth is bound, (and) he suffers with stiffness in his neck. An ailment not to be treated. (Edwin Smith Papyrus)
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 61

THE DISEASES
In a First Intermediate Period cemetery at Abydos the skeleton of a child has been discovered which had suffered from osteoporosis. Little is known about pregnancy and childbirth in ancient Egypt, and on the basis of a few literary hints one surmises that, unless there were extraordinary problems, physicians were not involved. There was a store of knowledge concerning women, as is reflected in the Kahun Gynaecological papyrus, the Greater Berlin Papyrus and others, which dealt with urinary problems, pains in the abdomen, legs and genitals, fertility and conception.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 62

THE DISEASES
Poliomyelitis or polio

Clubfoot of King Siptah (above) and deformed foot of Roma (right)


DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 63

THE DISEASES

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

64

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE


Magic and religion were an integral part of everyday life in ancient Egypt. Evil gods and demons were thought to be responsible for many ailments, so often the treatments involved a supernatural element, such as beginning treatment with an appeal to a deity. The healers, many of them priests of Sekhmet, often used incantations and magic as part of treatment.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 65

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE


Ingredients were sometimes selected seemingly because they were derived from a substance, plant or animal that had characteristics which in some way corresponded to the symptoms of the patient. This is known as the principle of simila similibus ("similar with similar") and is found throughout the history of medicine up to the modern practice of homeopathy. Thus an ostrich egg is included in the treatment of a broken skull, and an amulet portraying a hedgehog might be used against baldness.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 66

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE


Amulets in general were very popular, being worn for many magical purposes. Health related amulets are classified as homeopoetic, phylactic and theophoric. Homeopoetic amulets portray an animal or part of an animal, from which the wearer hopes to gain positive attributes like strength or speed.
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 67

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE


Phylactic amulets protected against harmful gods and demons. The famous Eye of Horus was often used on a phylactic amulet. Theophoric amulets represented Egyptian gods; one represented the girdle of Isis and was intended to stem the flow of blood at miscarriage. They where often made of bone, hanging from a leather strap.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

68

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

MAGIC, RELIGION & MEDICINE

Gods of medicine and healing


DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

DOCTORS AND OTHER HEALERS


The ancient Egyptian word for doctor is "wabau". The earliest recorded physician in the world, Hesy-Ra, practiced in ancient Egypt. He was Chief of Dentists and Physicians to King Djoser, who ruled in the 27th century BC. The lady Peseshet (2400 BC) may be the first recorded female doctor: she was possibly the mother of Akhethotep, and on a stela dedicated to her in his tomb she is referred to as imy-r swnwt, which has been translated as Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians (swnwt is the feminine of swnw).
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 71

DOCTORS AND OTHER HEALERS


There were many ranks and specializations in the field of medicine. Royalty employed their own swnw, even their own specialists. There were inspectors of doctors, overseers and chief doctors. Known ancient Egyptian specialists are ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, proctologist, dentist, "doctor who supervises butchers" and an unspecified "inspector of liquids". The ancient Egyptian term for proctologist, neru phuyt, literally translates as "shepherd of the anus".
DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA 72

DOCTORS AND OTHER HEALERS


Institutions, so called Houses of Life, are known to have been established in ancient Egypt since the 1st Dynasty and may have had medical functions, being at times associated in inscriptions with physicians, such as Peftauawyneit and Wedjahorresnet living in the middle of the first millennium BC.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

73

The Ancient Egyptian contributions in Modern Medicine


It is now known that Egyptian medicine contributed greatly to modern medicine. Many of the therapies used today are similar to those used in ancient Egyptian times such as the method of treating a fractured bone. They were the first to use electrotherapy to cure pain, and also have an understanding of what happened. The first ever mummification was in Egypt and the process was used for centuries to come by all Egyptian peoples. With the discoveries of more and more papyrus, ancient Egyptians are now getting the credit they deserve for their contributions to modern medicine.

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

74

DR. AMIT SRIVASTAVA

75