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Medical practices and tools in Ancient Egypt

 
Egypt’s doctors were famous for their knowledge and skill. The Edwin Smith Papyrus (from about 1600 b.c.e.), a kind of casebook for surgeons, divides injuries and disorders of the head and chest into treatable, non-treatable, and “maybe” cases. The Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Arabs admired and borrowed Egyptian medical practices. Doctors treated problems that were common at farms and construction sites.

Medical practices and tools in Ancient Egypt


These included stiffness, sprains, crushing injuries, broken bones, wounds, burns, and skin disorders. They used splints (a stick that helps a broken bone in place), bandages, and compresses (bandages that pressed a wound to stop the bleeding). They also cut off arms and legs and performed simple surgeries with saws, knives, drills, hooks, and grasping tools called forceps. 
 
Although medicine and embalming (preparing the dead for burial) were closely related, Egyptians had little understanding of the internal workings of the human body. Corpses were sacred, so they were not to be studied or dissected. Although Herodotus considered the residents of Upper Egypt to be the healthiest people in the world, mummies and skeletons show that Egyptians suffered many ills.
 
 Most had rotten teeth. Their bread was full of sand and grit from grinding stones, and it wore down their tooth enamel until the roots were exposed. This causes abscesses (swollen, infected areas) and severe pain. Except for uncomplicated treatments such as setting broken bones and stitching wounds, magic spells and amulets were the best remedies Egyptian doctors had for most health problems. 
 
Diseases were blamed on demons or ghosts. Prescriptions called for applying potions while reciting magical spells. Brews included mixtures of leaves, herbs, fruit juices, dates and figs, honey, tannic acid, resins, castor oil, human milk, animal fat and blood, animal fur, snake grease, and goose grease.






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