Medicine of Ancient Egypt: part I
Ancient Egypt – a mysterious and fascinating country, covered with a thin trail of legends and myths. Scientific study of ancient texts is a relatively recent development, after the French scientist J. F. Champollion solved the mystery of hieroglyphic writing. The report of this discovery was done on September 27, 1822, before a gathering of scientists in France, and it was the discovery of an officer of Napoleon’s army, the Rosetta stone.
The study of ancient written sources allowed us to make conclusion about the high level of knowledge of the Egyptians in many scientific fields, including in medicine. It is incorrect to assume that all of the therapeutic procedures was reduced at that time to various shamanistic rites or reading spells. On the contrary, such behavior of the doctor was a rarity. According to different treatises to the magic formulas used only in the treatment of 48 diseases, and in other cases in the case were drugs with a complex formulation, as well as various surgical operations. with high accuracy described by the experts of those days.
Our knowledge of ancient Egyptian medicine is based on ancient medical manuals and collections of regulations, in other words, the papyri. Unfortunately, according to researcher Y. F. Marchenko, to have survived only ten of these scrolls.They are called by the name of the first owners (Edwin Smith, Hurst, Ches-Ter Beatty, Carlsberg), place of occurrence (Kachanski, from Ramesseum), the name of the city, where (Berlin, London, Leiden) and the name of the first publisher (G. Ebers). All of them are the lists from earlier treatises, which were lost in ancient times. Let us dwell on some of the papyri.
Papyrus Ebers (XVI century BC) gives the most extensive information on medicine. “The book of preparation of medicines for all body parts” glued together 108 sheets of papyrus and reaches a length of 20.5 meters. Here you will find 900 descriptions of drugs for the treatment of diseases of the digestive system, respiratory tract, ear, throat, nose, eyes and skin. According to S. M. Marchukov, the title of each recipe is highlighted with red paint. and the form of his typically laconic: first, stands the title, such as “a Means to expel the blood from the wound”, then lists the component parts of the indicating doses, given at the end of the instruction, for example: “to cook, mix”. It is interesting to note that the methods of treatment of the same diseases varied depending on the time of year, sex and age of the patient. For example, if a teenager or adult recommended medication in the form of a pill, the child could only produce a suspension, dissolved in the milk. “Adults as a diuretic recommended drug, based on the green Fig, and children for the same purpose recommended that a poultice made from papyrus impregnated with oil,” adds S. M. Marchukov. The researcher gives examples of a few recipes, in particular, one of the most ancient descriptions of the inhalation (it was recommended in the treatment of diseases of the chest and throat ): “grind plants and Heme of the EMEP Bureau, put on fire and rising steam to pull through the straw during the day”. Another method of inhalation, “take seven stones, nakali them on the fire; take one of them, impose on him some drugs and make it into a new vessel with a hole in it, put the straw into the hole, take the reed in your mouth so you could suck in the vapor, and then eat something fatty, such as fatty meat or butter”. In addition, papyrus Ebers mentions “the opening of vision in the eye behind the eye”, that is, surgery to remove cataracts. In the papers there is a beauty section that contains tips on how to smooth out wrinkles. the removal of moles. the discoloration of the skin. color hair and eyebrows, increased hair growth and even strabismus correction. Not less interesting is the following quote: “the Beginning of the mysteries of medical knowledge of stroke heart. from the vessels which go 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. The blood vessels in the body from it all. If they are studied by any doctor, any priest, mage any of his fingers on his head, on the neck, on the hand, the place of the heart. He seeks the heart through the vessels.”