History of sickness and medical art 12 : Ancient Egypt 2

a mural painting of a doctor's grave in about 2200 BC. Massage of hand and foot. 

< a mural painting of a doctor’s grave in about 2200 BC. Massage of hand and foot. >


This time, I write about sickness and medical art of Ancient Egypt.




A picture of Job in the Old Testament at the 9-century in Roma. Job was suffered from a skin disease. 

< A picture of Job in the Old Testament at the 9-century in Roma. Job was suffered from a skin disease. >



Although they knew about 200 kinds of sicknesses, there is no sick description in connection with entrails like lung or liver, etc.

Probably, it was beyond their understanding.

As for medical disease, clear things were only constipation, the inflammation of the rectum, cystitis, and the bloody urine by blood fluke.

However, the description about external lesion and external injury is clear.

Frequent sicknesses are bronchial asthma, erysipelas, gonorrhea, scurvy, epilepsy, polio, and parasitic disease。

Hansen’s disease and smallpox often attacked people.

It seems that the skin disease that Job was suffered from by a mischief of God was Hansen’s disease.

From mummies of the past kings such as Ramses, the remains of an artery disease or an infectious disease of their face were seen.

A lot of mummies of the commoner have pneumoconiosis caused by the dust storm of the desert, and diseases due to the parasitic worm.

Arteriosclerosis was seen in 20% of adults.














Medical treatment

Prescriptions of the medical disease were 700 kinds and were categorized according to entrails.

As for surgery, treatment of fracture, extraction of calculus, operation of eyes, and removal of external tumor have been performed.

A trepanning of skull, treatment of cavity, and also making a false tooth were performed.

Surgical instruments such as many pins, scissors, and knife were pictured in the mural painting of ruins.

Steam from tar fragments, coriander, powder of carob, and opium were also used for anesthesia.










Horus : It has a head of falcon and is a God of the sky and the sun.

A charm of Horus's eye

< Horus : It has a head of falcon and is a God of the sky and the sun.

A charm of Horus’s eye >


When rational medical arts could not cure it, people relied on magician who was always nearby.

The reason to use feces, urine, and the blood for prescription is because people thought that the demon that is the cause of the disease avoids it and runs away.

In addition, the people demanded help from Amen-Ra, Toto, Horus, Isis of Gods and gave prayer.

Getting on a charm became common, it of Horus’ eyes that protected from snake, scorpion, or crocodile were the most common.


The medical treatment was provided at the sanitarium of shrines too.

Patients were isolated in small rooms, and offered prayer.

In addition, while sleeping, they were given the grace in dreams, and were cured.   

Also they took a ritual bath in the shrine.

This resembles the medical treatment of Asklepios’s shrine that prospered in Greece.


Next time, I write down drugs etc. of ancient Egypt.

















Categories: culture+society, history+evolution, science, Series: History of sickness and medical art | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “History of sickness and medical art 12 : Ancient Egypt 2

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes


    How simple was their thinking. My gosh, we’ve come such a long way with our understanding & investigation of the human body. This was fascinating to read. Thank you!

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