Egyptian Medicine: Was It Art or Science?

Date: 
Monday, October 20, 2014

Ancient Egyptian medicine was trial by error in every sense. Several medical treatises have been discovered, but these surviving documents appear to have written during the late Middle to New Kingdom dynasties. However many Egyptologists agree that they are copies made from earlier documents. The individual formulas/recipes described in these papyri were a result of what worked, or what was perceived to have worked. Sources of ingredients used in pharaonic times were obviously natural and not artificial as they are in today's society. Many of these individual ingredients were effective, but many were not. Since the ancient physicians practiced poly pharmacy it would have been almost impossible for them to make the distinction of what truly was effective and what was not. By the same thought process, religious incantations in conjunction with these formulas, or in some cases used alone, may have been felt to provide some relief to the ill patient. We will discuss these concepts in detail.

Jim Turley

Jim has a Pharm.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently the Director of Pharmacy of a local hospital. His clinical focus is in infectious diseases. Jim has recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a Certificate in Egyptology.