Egypt would probably be the best place to fall ill in ancient times. This fact is attributed to the availability of physicians whose practices were well-known globally. Minor injuries resulting from fights and accidents were put in the hands of the xrp srqt, the exorcist of Serqet, who had vast knowledge in remedies and spells. The ancient physician would employ the use of snake bites and scorpion stings referred to as sunu. On the other hand, illnesses were very mysterious. The ancient Egyptians termed them as the doings of gods due to the existence of evil spirits. The only way to get rid of illnesses at that time was to undergo some type of cleansing procedure. Incantations to Sekhmet, the goddess of curses, healing and threats, mostly followed by injection of ancient medicine in various parts of the body proved effective. The purpose of this essay is to identify the most impressive method of medicine, the expectations from the ancient Egyptians, and whether their knowledge was extensive or limited.
The medical practice that impressed me the most in ancient Egypt was the use of prostheses and cosmetics. Artificial body parts such as toes and arms are worn to improve the walking and gripping capabilities of a patient. For instance, the remains of an old woman revealed the use of a prosthetic toe after hers had been amputated, perhaps due to a condition called gangrene. Physicians possessed cosmetic skills as well. Besides prescribing skin care products, they also came up with remedies against hair loss and graying.
The use of spells and rituals by far is the shocking aspect in regards to ancient Egyptian medicine. The ancient Egyptians were firm believers in the power contained in spoken words and that they affect the real world. The common cold overwhelmed the Egyptians to a large extent. The milk of a mother who just gave birth to a boy was considered the remedy. Nonetheless, the physicians had a tried and true spell that countered the cold. Spells that bring about healing are very important and were sometimes accompanies by the performance of rituals.
Herbs played a crucial role during this era. (Ancient Egypt: Medicine) The Ebers papyrus for example, mentions a few such as opium, myrrh, cannabis, castor oil, and frankincense as herbs used for treating people. Being an ancient civilization, my expectations were leaning towards the use of herbal medicine only. Further research shows that the use of herbs was not the only form of treatment. Other methods that include surgery, dentistry, prostheses as well as cosmetics were already in use in ancient Egypt.
The medicine practitioners of ancient Egypt proved to be on the right track and very knowledgeable on many instances since they discovered the basis for dental healthcare, surgery, and prosthetics. Egyptian physicians were very much adored because they examined the patient first, before making a diagnosis. In instances where the cure was not known, some steps were undertaken that did not endanger the patient in any way. In conclusion, ancient Egyptian methods of medicine have contributed a lot in how modern medicine is practiced today.
"Ancient Egypt: Medicine." Reshafim: Kibbutz Homepage, www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/medicine.htm.
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