Ancient Egyptian medicine was practiced from 3300 B.C., and was to last until 525 B.C. Ancient Egyptian medicine was highly advanced, influencing the later Greek and Roman physicians.
Egyptian doctors could set bones and perform simple surgery. Their extensive knowledge and pharmacology at was backed by magical incantations. Ancient Egyptian physicians followed certain steps which would be recognizable to any modern doctor – examination, diagnosis, followed by prognosis and treatment. Many people would be surprised to hear that these treatments were often effective.
Ancient Egyptians did not believe in dissection. A dissected body was unable to rise, to live again. However, the Egyptian knowledge of anatomy was incredible, mainly due to their experience in mummification. Egyptian physicians understood there was a connection between heartbeat and pulse, and even vaguely understood the cardiac system.
Many of the suggestions of ancient Egyptian physicians were actually very effective. The Egyptians believed in cleanliness, and were known to shave their body hair, which may have prevented infections. They also proposed that could help could come from a good diet, avoiding foods like crawfish or unclean animals.
Interestingly, the use of kohl as eyeliner was once seen as a simple fashion statement. Studies performed on small pots of kohl found in tombs revealed a surprising fact. The ingredients in this online or are very effective antibacterial agents. This highly valued makeup could prevent infection, and possibly even save the eyesight of those who used it.
Of course, other practices were not so benign. Many pharmaceuticals contained animal dung. Feces will often contain certain molds, and these may occasionally have curative qualities. However, fecal bacteria can cause dangerous infections.
Religion and magic were intertwined in ancient Egypt. If the gods could cause ailments, then entreaties to the gods could help that disease disappear. Physicians commonly used magic and incantations to effect recoveries. Amulets were also a popular choice to prevent disease or stimulate healing.
The ancient Egyptians are proud to claim the earliest recorded physician, Hesyre, doctor to Pharaoh Djoser in the 27th Century BC. In 2400 B.C., we see the first recorded reference to a female doctor, the lady Peseshet.
Ancient Egyptian physicians were not just general practitioners. There were many specialties, including ophthalmologists, dentists, gastroenterologists, and even proctologists. Pharaohs and other royalty enjoyed their own physicians; the common people could visit medical institutions for treatment.
Over several millennia, the ancient Egyptians contributed a great deal of medical knowledge to ancient mankind. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, studied at the temple of Amenhotep, using these lessons to advance medical practices in Greece. Pliny the Elder, Herodotus, and Homer wrote extensively on the Egyptian contribution to the understanding of medicine. Is it any wonder we think they are just so darn swell?