Medicine of the pharaohs

Knowledge of the human body, internal organs and their functions came to Egypt very early, together with the practice of mummification. Judging by the data, Egyptian doctors were well aware of the ways and first set the function of the heart, which was perceived as the life centre, pumping blood through the 22 major vessels of the body, turning into more branched vessels. “The beginning of the mysteries of the doctor, – said in the text of the famous “papyrus Ebers” (XV century BC Leipzig), knowledge of stroke of the heart, which vessels 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: he sent vessels to every member…” in Addition to these vessels, an Egyptian doctor wrote to their counterparts in another body – invisible Ka – “double” of man associated with magic rituals.

Mummification gave rise in Egypt strong surgery. In the “Surgical papyrus of Edwin Smith”, dated XVI century BC, describes 48 types of injuries and their treatment: refers to the technique of the correct reposition of bone fractures, lecaniinae and bruises, haematomas. The author of the text was a practicing physician, most likely related to some major construction.

“Surgeon’s table”. The relief on the temple wall of Harura and Sobek in Kom Ombo. II century BC

From economic documents it is known that, for example, the construction of the great pyramids of Giza, where the injury was understandably very high, fifteen hundred builders had one doctor. His art was obviously far from all the intricacies owned by court doctors, however, and this fact medical care of the builders of the pyramids – amazing. There are many traces of successful operations, not only simple – a well-matched bone during fracture, but a thin, almost jewelry operations, when, for example, with a tiny hole drilled in the jaw, was treated for inflammation of the periosteum. Egyptian surgical tools were made mainly of bronze and occasionally of very expensive silver. They are known to us as the instances found during the archaeological works, and several detailed images, among which a special place is the wall with the “surgeon’s table” in the temple of Harura – nikolopoulou God of medicine and healing in Kom Ombo, near Aswan.

At least since the XX century before our era heavy operations, such as craniotomy, was carried out with anesthesia. For this purpose the territory of Egypt were imported extracts of the opium poppy, vynashivalas in Cyprus. This tool filled a special ceramic vessels, its shape reminiscent of an inverted poppy box, due to mandatory registration in a temple hospital. Was common in Egypt and prosthetics: bridges are missing teeth or their substitutes made of ivory, mounted with gold wire; lost in accidents, the fragments of the limbs were replaced by prostheses made very skillfully made of wood. Examples of such prostheses are stored in many museums around the world.

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