Ancient Egypt

  • J. Worth Estes
Reference work entry
Humanity was concerned with sickness and death long before the Egyptians appeared along the banks of the Nile. But only from the beginning of pharaonic civilization, about 2900 BCE, do we have evidence of how sickness and trauma were treated in the ancient world. It comes primarily from several monographs, or collations of sections of earlier monographs, written on papyrus. The major medical papyri are, in their probable chronological order:
  • Veterinary Papyrus of Kahun, ca. 1900 BCE, on the treatment of animals

  • Gynecological Papyrus of Kahun, ca. 1900 BCE, a fragment of a monograph on the diseases of women

  • Papyrus Edwin Smith, ca. 1550 BCE, part of a monograph on wounds that also includes a fragment of a work on the heart and vessels called the Secret Book of the Physician that was probably composed ca. 3000 BCE

  • Papyrus Ebers, ca. 1550 BCE, a collection of remedies for several kinds of ailments that contains a longer version of the Secret Book

  • Papyrus Hearst, ca. 1550 BCE, a less...

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