The medicine of the ancient Egyptians is some of the oldest documented yet least unexplored in the alternative medical community. The study of medicine in ancient Egypt can be largely divided into two kinds. One group, carried out principally by Egyptologists, has been concerned with the medicine of Egypt from the Old Kingdom to the Late period or Greco-Roman era. The other comes from classicists interested in Greek medicine, chiefly the fragments of the influential elite physicians of Ptolemaic Alexandria, or those using the unusually large amount of papyrological evidence from Greco-Roman Egypt for the study of Greek social history.
Examining all forms of healing within the specific socioeconomic and environmental constraints of the Ptolemies’ Egypt, this Course explores how linguistic, cultural and ethnic affiliations and interactions were expressed in the medical domains.
Until the 19th century Rosetta stone and Ebers and Smith Papyri, the main sources of information about ancient Egyptian medicine were writings from Greek antiquity. The Edwin Smith papyrus for example mentioned research methods, the making of a diagnosis of the patient, and the setting of a treatment. It is thus viewed as a learning manual. Treatments consisted of ailments made from i.e. animal, vegetable or fruit substances or minerals. The papyri contain chapters on contraception, diagnosis of pregnancy and other gynecological matters, intestinal disease and parasites, eye and skin problems, dentistry and the surgical treatment of abscesses and tumors, bone-setting and burns.
This is a course on the concise history of the development and practice of Egyptian medicine and its related subjects. It examines the images which are carved and painted on the walls of tombs, represented in statues, in the hieroglyphs and in the papyri and offers and explanation of the types of representation which show obvious disease and deformity. The application of modern scientific methodology to palaeopathology and palaeopidemiology has given Egyptologists and medical historians a greater understanding of the interaction between human disease and the contemporary environment.
An overview of modern scientific studies is included along with specific case studies detailing evidence of disease. The Egyptians knew and used at least one-third of all the medicinal plants listed in our modern pharmacopoeias and the constituents and efficacy of the pharmacists' remedies are examined. A brief overview of the medical papyri and medical inscriptions is included. These provide further poignant insights into the Egyptian medical practitioner's understanding of anatomy and physiology.
Current questions on whether Hellenistic Egypt should be understood in terms of colonialism and imperialism, multicultural separatism, or integration and syncretism have never been closely studied in the context of healing. Yet illness affects and is affected by nutrition, disease and reproduction within larger questions of demography, agriculture and environment. It is crucial to every socio-economic group, all ages, and both sexes; perceptions and responses to illness are ubiquitous in all kinds of evidence, both Greek and Egyptian and from archaeology to literature.
Again with PanAm's tenet that development of humoral medicine was the global, humanitarian bridge between shamanic healing practices of antiquity and the renaissance of modern medicine, we find Egyptian medicine blended humoral concepts with supernatural medical concepts earliest. Indeed they contributed to Greek medicine along with many herbal compounds that extended into the Roman Empire and spread globally. A rich 25 clock hour study were rare materials often difficult to find.