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Medicine Of Ancient Egypt

Referate, kursov, diplom, controls (poperedni pregled)

In contrast to Babylon, the gloomy home of despotism, Egypt was to the ancient world a true fortress of the sacred science, a school for the most glorious of the prophets, the refuge and along the laboratory of the noblest traditions of humanity.

Eduard Shure (“Mysteries Of Egypt”)

Egypt – a narrow strip of irrigated land stretching among the boundless Sands in the lower reaches of the Nile, supplying her with water and fertile silt. Here over six thousand years ago flourished one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The tradition of healing in Ancient Egypt was developed in close collaboration with the medicine of Ancient Mesopotamia. They had a great influence on the development of medicine of Ancient Greece, considered to be the forerunner of modern scientific medicine.


The study of ancient texts is a relatively recent development, after the French scientist J. F. Champollion solved the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. The first statement was made on 27 September 1822, before a gathering of scientists in France. This day is considered the birthday of the science of Egyptology. The discovery of Champollion was associated with the study of the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, found by an officer of Napoleon’s army in 1799 during the digging of trenches near the town of Rosetta in Egypt. To decoding ancient Egyptian writing, the only sources on the history of Ancient Egypt and medicine were Greek information historian Herodotus, the Egyptian priest Manetho, described in ancient Greek and works of Greek writers, Diodorus, Polybius, Strabo, Plutarch and others. Many ancient Egyptian texts on the walls of pyramids, tombs and papyrus scrolls remained for researchers “dumb”.

For the first time about the existence of medical treatises in Ancient Egypt it is told in record on the wall of the tomb of Wash-Ptah – the chief architect of the king V dynasty Neferure-RA (XXV century BC). In the same inscription gives the clinical picture of sudden death of the architect, which, according to modern concepts, like the heart attack or stroke.

The oldest medical treatises written on papyrus. Until this day they have not survived and we know them only by the testimony of ancient historians. So, priest Manafon reports that Attis (the second king of the first dynasty) was a medical papyrus of the structure of the human body. At present we know 10 of the main papyri, fully or partly dealing with the healing. All of them are the lists with the earlier treatises. The oldest surviving medical papyrus Dating from around 1800 BC, One section is devoted to the management of labor, and the other treatment animals. At the same time, were drawn up IV and V papyri from Ramesseum, which describes the magical techniques of healing. The most complete information about the medicine of Ancient Egypt give two papyrus, dated around 1550 BC – the great medical papyrus G. Ebers and papyrus on surgery E. Smith. Both of papyrus, apparently written by one person and are copies of a more ancient treatise. Egyptologists believe that this unpreserved ancient papyrus was made legendary by the physician Imhotep in the beginning of III Millennium BC, Later Imhotep was deified.


The Egyptian religion, which existed for nearly four thousand years, was based on the cult of animals. Each Egyptian nome (city-state) had its sacred animal or bird: the cat, a lion, an ox, a sheep, a Falcon, an IBIS, etc. were Especially venerated snakes. Uadjit the Cobra was the protector of Lower Egypt. Her image was on the headdress of the Pharaoh. Along with Falcon, black kite and bee it represented Royal power. On the Cobra amulets were placed beside the sacred eye symbol of the God of heaven Choir. The cult of the deceased animal was embalmed and buried in sacred tombs: cats in the city of Bubastis, ibises to the city of iunu, dogs in the cities of his death. Mummies of the sacred snakes were buried in the temples of the God Amun-RA. In Memphis in a Grand underground necropolis discovered a large number of stone sarcophagi with the mummies of the sacred bulls. Killing the sacred animal was punished by death. According to the beliefs of the Egyptians the soul of a deceased person for 3 thousand years is in the bodies of deified animals and birds to help her avoid the dangers of the underworld. Herodotus explains that the severity of punishment for killing the sacred animal.

The main gods of healing was considered the God of wisdom and The goddess of motherhood and fertility, ISIS. He was depicted as a man with the head of the bird IBIS or incarnated in the form of a baboon. And the IBIS and baboon personified in Ancient Egypt wisdom. He created a writing system, mathematics, astronomy, religious ceremonies, music and most importantly – the treatment of disease by natural means. It is ascribed to the most ancient medical treatises.

ISIS was considered the Creator of the magical foundations of healing and the patroness of children. Medications with the name ISIS are even mentioned in the writings of the Roman physician Galen pharmacist.

The Egyptian medicine there were other divine patrons: the mighty lion goddess Sekhmet, protector of women and childbirth; Touart goddess, depicted as a female hippopotamus. Every newborn Egyptian, regardless of social status lay next to a small statuette of Towart.


The ancient Egyptians considered the afterlife a continuation of the earth. In their view, the afterlife, the substance exists in two forms – the soul and life force. The soul, depicted as a bird with a human head, may exist in the body of a deceased person or to leave him for a time, lifting to the gods in the sky. Life force, or “double”, found in the tomb, but can move to other world and even go to statues of the deceased.

Beliefs about afterlife communication of substances to the place of burial led to the desire to preserve a dead body from destruction – to nabalebale it. This was done by persons who perfectly knew all the different ways of embalming. One of these ways describes the Greek historian Herodotus. The methods of embalming were lost, but their effectiveness is obvious. The bodies, mummified by the ancient Egyptians several thousand years ago, preserved to our days and allows exploration of health status and characteristics of disease in such remote times. However, not all had the opportunity to embalm body of dead relatives. The majority of Egyptians in those days were buried without mummification, and in the pits without coffins.

It should be noted that the mummification of Lenin in Russia was carried out according to technology that has nothing in common with the methods of the ancient Egyptians. The original Russian method was that you could save the lifetime of dyeing and maximum portrait similarity with the living object. All the Egyptian mummies are brown color, and vague portrait resemblance to the deceased. The purpose of Egyptian embalming did not pursue the prospects for a revival of the deceased and return him to mortal life.

The practice of embalming in Ancient Egypt was, apparently, first and primary source of knowledge about the structure of the human body. Embalming required and various chemicals, which indirectly contributed to the emergence of ideas about the nature of chemical reactions. Moreover, it is assumed that the name “chemistry” comes from the ancient name of Egypt is “Kemet”. Knowledge of the Egyptians in the field of anatomy was significantly higher than the understanding of the structure of the human body in neighbouring countries and, in particular, of Mesopotamia, where the dead bodies were not dissected.


The Egyptians knew of major organs: heart, vessels, kidneys, intestines, muscles, etc. to Them belongs the first description of the brain. In E. Smith papyrus, the brain moves in the open wound of the skull is compared to “a boiling copper”. Egyptian doctors associated brain damage with impaired function of other body parts. They were known to have motor paralysis of the extremities in wounds of the head. Papyrus Ebers has important theoretical section, which analyzes the role of heart in human life: “the Beginning of the mysteries of medical knowledge of stroke of the heart, which vessels to all members, for every doctor, every priest of the goddess Sekhmet, every caster, touching the head, neck, arms, hands, legs – everywhere touches the heart: he sent the vessels to each member. “The ancient Egyptians over four thousand years ago was known diagnosis of diseases by the pulse.

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