The ancient Egyptians practice of medicine was intertwined with magic as they believed illnesses to be the wrath of the gods or the possession of one by an evil spirit which they expelled by the use of magical spells and remedies. However, their practices became highly advanced along the periods of its civilization and this advancement influenced other civilizations.
Their written medical works dealing with medical issues are some of the oldest medicinal documented works in the world with the Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600BC) as the oldest known work on surgical techniques. Other best-known works are; Ebers Papyrus (1550BC) and London Medical Papyrus(1629BC) which contains a series of prescriptions that have added to medical knowledge.
The ancient Egyptians called their doctors “Swnw” and the doctors had a hierarchy with the Greatest Physicians who worked for the ruling class as first, the Chief Physicians as second and the Physicians as the lowest.
The ancient Egypt doctors did not understand the internal function of the body, they regarded the heart as the center of man’s reasoning not the brain. They also believed that the blood and the excretory wastes were constantly circulating in the body.
The ancient Egyptian doctors also had knowledge of dentistry, although its evolution was slow paced in comparison to their other branches of medicine but it was more advance than the remedies practiced by other cultures. The first dentist in the world “Hesyre(2600BC) practiced in Egypt.
The earliest known pregnancy test(the moistening of urine with a sample of emmer and wheat) began with them and this test has been validated by modern science. The test worked on the belief that if Emmer grew after the sample had been moistened with urine that the child would be a female, if barley grew then the child conceived would be a male, but if nothing grew, one was not pregnant.
Their women used contributions made from natron and honey to prevent pregnancy. It is also believed that the modern symbol for prescriptions is the “Eye of Horus” which was one of the gods of Ancient Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians practice of astronomy reflected their belief in the duality of the gods and it was based on spiritual and practical. They believed that their land was a reflection of the land of the gods and that the stars told stories of the journey of the gods and the passage of time.
They studied the night sky and the stars which they called “Sopdet”, to know when it was about to rain, when it would be the right time to plant and harvest crops, when it was suitable to build and also the best time to undertake business ventures and they used this knowledge to accurately align their temples and pyramids which were aligned to the angles of the star.
The ancient Egyptians prescriptions, remedies used for ailments, and the knowledge they got from their study of the stars have made great contributions to the world of medicine and astronomy and till date these contributions are still considered indispensable.