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Egyptian Medicine

Ancient Egyptian Medicine

The Ancient Egyptians had very strong religious beliefs about the afterlife, the causes of disease and the way in which to treat ailments. The first section of this lesson looks at some of these beliefs, and the way in which they influenced the practice of medicine.

Now Read Source A and Source B.

Question: In what way does Source B support the assertion made in Source A that Egyptian Medicine was a "curious mixture of remedies and magic spells"?

Not all medical practice is Ancient Egyptian times was based on their religious or spiritual beliefs though. The Egyptians recorded their understanding of the human body in written form, on what are now know as Papyrus. The next section looks at some examples of Egyptian medical knowledge and the methodology employed by physicians, as described in the Papyrus Edwin Smith.

Consider the two following sources: Source C and Source D.

Question: What do Sources C and D tell us about the way in which Ancient Egyptians were treated by doctors?

Want to find out what other treatments were noted in the Paprus Edwin Smith? This website goes through different ailments and conditions, illustrating the method of examination, diagnosis and treatment for each. Pharonic Egypt Website.

What else do we need to know about the Ancient Egyptians?

The Egyptians were aware of many aspects of the human body. Through the mummification process they had gained a basic understanding of the anatomy of the body, though religious beliefs prevented them from developing this knowledge. Their observations of the Nile led them to understand blockages, which they could remove from veins and arteries. They were also quite clean, having water channels bringing clean water to villages and removing used water. Their religious beliefs led to them cleaning relatively regularly along with being clean shaven - whch prevents lice etc. from taking a hold.

Now read Source E and Source F.

Question: What do Sources E and F tell us about the Egyptians attitude towards health?

What do I need to remember?

- The Egyptians recorded their ideas, practices and beliefs in Paprus documents.

- The Egyptians had a combination of Natural and Supernatural beliefs about the cause of disease.

- The Egyptians valued physicians highly.

- The Egyptians had some anatomical knowledge and were capable of performing minor operations.

You may be asked to compare later civilisations with the Ancient Egyptians in order to test your understanding of Continuity and Change.

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Page last updated on 18/05/03