Egyptian medicine is one of the oldest and most advanced in history. Many of their practices have been applied in both Greek and Roman medicine., so it is not surprising to know that in ancient Egypt there were doctors and medicines. Although the Egyptians did not know how most internal organs work and almost always blamed the gods or evil forces for diseases, they understood that it could be treated with drugs and understood the importance of purity in treating diseases.
Were there doctors and medicines in ancient Egypt?
Medicine in ancient Egypt is closely related to customs, but also has extensive practical experience due to the observation of patients and disease. According to papyri and many literary, sculptural and pictographic sources, the Egyptians had extensive medical knowledge, supplemented by ritualsmagical summonses and the use of talismans or amulets
In fact, Egyptian doctors were skilled in preparing medicines. Most of the substances they used have been illuminated by tradition because of their effectiveness and have been dosed in a precise way. The Berlin Papyrus discusses several cases where breast milk has been used as a main ingredient for enemas and other diseases of the anus. Also cleansing for stomach ailments.
In one of the most important medical treatises of the time, the Ebers Papyrus, recipes and magic formulas for the treatment of all kinds of diseases are described: onion, garlic, honey, coffee, cocoa, beer, dill, myrrh, lettuce and preparations based on honey, lead and antimony.
Doctors, midwives, nurses and dentists
Doctors, called sunu or sinu by the Egyptians, “the men of those who suffer or are sick,” practiced outside the temple. and treated patients with “reasonable” medical practices, but according to the prescriptions of the temple. Wabu-sehmet doctors, on the other hand, practiced only in the temple through healing rituals, spells, amulets and talismans.
As stated in the Ebers Papyrus, each physician had his own specialty, which were divided into: “suno” or “swnw”, general practitioners, doctors for latent diseases or diseases of unknown origin; “Suno custode”, guardian of the pharaoh’s anus; dentist or Generet, the professional doctor. But there were also “sau”, whose specialty was the use of magic, and “ut”, who were not considered healers, but nurses or medical assistants.
Egyptian doctors were called wabau (ritually pure), so they had to bathe as often as a priest. At that time, hygiene, bathing and good performance of the doctor were very important, both for the population and for the Egyptian government.
It is not certain whether medical schools existed in ancient Egypt, but it is likely that knowledge of medicine was passed down from father to son, as was the case with all other trades. However, it is believed that there was an important school in Alexandria, as well as in the city of Sais in Lower Egypt.
Numerous sculptural and pictographic sources, in addition to papyri and medical treatises, reveal with certainty that there were doctors and medicines in ancient Egypt. Did you know that there were male and female doctors who specialized in specific fields? And that they had hundreds of formulas for making medicines and perfumes?