A Civilization Contributing to Medical Science: “Ancient Egypt”

Informational Resources of Ancient Egypt with Contribution to Medicine

The Ancient Egyptian Civilization, which settled around the Nile River in North Africa, worked on many sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Geometry and contributed to the development of these fields. However, since these efforts are mystical and religious researches, they did not progress within the framework of a methodology.

In ancient times, Egypt reached advanced points in medical science. In that regard, Ancient Egyptian medicine has a significant impact on our understanding of the history of medicine. There are papyri that give us information about the history of medicine in Ancient Egypt. For example, the Kahun Papyrus gives information about gynecology and veterinary medicine, while the Karlsberg Papyrus is about eye diseases and obstetrics.

It is possible to come across medical information in the pictures on the walls of the Egyptian tombs and in the translation of the inscriptions besides the papyri. Advances in modern medical technology have also helped to understand Ancient Egyptian medicine.

Nutrition in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians were a civilization that realized the importance of balanced and measured diet. Many grains, vegetables and fruits were grown because of its loam. There was oil from flaxseed, a limited number of spices and herbs, and meat for the upper classes to consume. In general, in Egypt, even the lower classes had a choice of food, while the food was perfect for the upper classes.

Pharmacology as a Treatment Method

Ancient Egyptians were a civilization who use plants for medicinal purposes. There are many recipes in the papyri to eliminate different ailments.

They used honey as medicine and pomegranate juice as weakening and astringent. While some of the medicines were ointments and dressings, others were pills and mouthwashes. Moreover, they used animal excrement and even some metals as a treatment tool.

Methods Used in Diseases

The Egyptians knew little about human anatomy. For example, in mummification they knew how to break the thin bone of the mummies’ cerebral cortex and remove the brain by inserting a long hooked tool through a nostril.

While Egyptian doctors knew about the pulse and its connection to the heart, they had no idea about blood circulation. Differentiating between blood vessels, tendons, and nerves was unimportant to them. By analogy with the Nile River, they put forward their theories that these channels carry air, water and blood to the body. Failure of these channels would cause people to become unhealthy. They applied this on humans and stated that it was necessary to use laxatives to solve the problems of the channels.

Usage of Surgical Methods

Surgery was a common practice among physicians as a treatment for physical injuries. Egyptian doctors defined injuries into three categories: treatable, debatable, and incurable ailments. The treatable ailment was quickly repaired by surgeons. There was a possibility of death and life in the disputed ailments. Patients were observed. If they survived, surgical intervention was performed to repair the problem.

They used knives, hooks, drills, scales, vases with burning incense, saws. They used prosthetics such as artificial toes and eyeballs. During the funeral preparation, missing body parts were completed.

Dentistry as Another Field

Dentistry was also an important field among Ancient Egyptians. It was an independent profession, but we can say that it was never at the forefront. The grit leftover from the grains ground in the Egyptian diet and the abrasives from the stone chips in the preparation of the bread were damaging to the teeth. Dental treatments were ineffective, patients were expected to lose their unhealthy teeth.

Mummification that Comes to Mind When Egypt is Mentioned

The Ancient Egyptians mummified the bodies of deceased people by using chemicals to minimize their deterioration over time. Ancient Egypt had mummy makers. Customers would bring the corpse to the mummy makers and choose one of the 3 types of mummification according to their economic status.

In the highest-priced mummification style, the master would pull the brain from the nostrils of the corpse by means of a hook, and dissolve what was left inside with medicine. They would empty the entrails of the deceased. Then they would wash it with palm wine, spray it with fragrance, put pure myrrh on its stomach and sew it. Finally, they would put the body in sodium carbonate and let it sit for 70 days. At the end of 70 days, they would remove the body, wash it and wrap it with fine tulle.

In the second type of mummification, the mummy master would cut through the abdomen of the corpse and remove its internal organs, inject a liquid obtained from the cedar tree into it, leave it in salt as needed, and then draw the cedar liquor inside when it was removed. Because the liquor was so strong, it would also bring out the internal organs in liquid form.

In the third and cheapest type of mummification, the inside of the corpse was cleaned with salt, immersed in salt for 70 days and then handed over.


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