Circumcision was such a common procedure that they even painted hieroglyphs to advertise it. The Egyptians were carrying out circumcision without anaesthetic, even in the early dynasties.
Egypt is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and is commonly known for the three major Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. (Even though Egypt contains 90 or so) Its history and culture is as rich as you can get. Almost everybody in the West is aware of the mummified remains of Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and especially the boy King, Tutankhamen.
There is a suggestion that Egypt was a place founded by the Sumerians as some Egyptologists have found evidence of their migration from Samaria to the Nile Delta. Ancient Egypt has contributed enormously to the advance of medicine. In the beginning the advances were small by modern standards, but their understanding of fractures, medical conditions, and their detailing of procedures using written language is one of their major contributions.
Economically, culturally and militarily ancient Egypt was one of the most advanced civilisations in the world. Relative to today, it would stand on a par with today’s USA. Whereas the majority of the world relied on superstition, magic and witch doctors, Egypt had some of the best trained physicians in the known world; Homer writes in Odyssey.
In Egypt the physicians are more skilled than any of human kind the most powerful and wealthy of the then known world used to call upon Egypt’s finest Physicians for their services.
Herodotus the ancient historian mentions how King Cyrus of Persia requested Ahmose II to send him his most skilful eye physician.36 He also states that the Egyptians had a physician for each disorder, and would only practice on one, i.e. one for the eye, one for the hand and so on.
"In the earliest times, the many gods of the Egyptians were unique children of One Great God, the Source of All Life. Among the many gods, none of them was considered to be the ultimate god. Each was a free-willed portion of the Great Oneness which composed the Most High God. Even in Genesis the plural form is used as the name of God, indicating that the One was composed of many, and the many contained the Universal, Omnipresent One"
The history of Egypt has been corrupted by those who believe that the bloodline is pure from the beginning. There are those that believe all its achievements are from Egyptians.
Manetho describes the builders of the Great Pyramid as "Shepherd Kings”
Did the Shepherd Kings build the great Pyramid as Manetho suggests? Who are these Shepherd Kings, were they Hebrews? Are Egypt’s early ancestors the Sumerians?
Imhotep which means, "the one who comes in peace" was believed to be a commoner by birth.
The Turin Papyri records him being the son of the God Ptar, who was God of the craftsman.
Imhotep's intelligence and determination enabled him to rise through the ranks to become one of the king's most trusted advisers and Vizier Prime Minister of all Egypt second only to the King.1
Since the release of the Boris Karloff film the Mummy in the 1930s, Imhotep has been misrepresented, he has understandably received very bad press. He is depicted as the lover of the Pharaohs wife and Hollywood in general, has slated him and cast him as the bad guy. This is of course completely fictional. Also, there have been those who would suggest that Imhotep was the original Joseph of the coat of many colours.
The Upper Egyptian, "Famine Stella" (left) dating from the Ptolemaic period, bears an inscription containing a legend about a famine of seven years during the reign of Djoser.
Imhotep is the one credited with ending it: one of his priests explained the connection between the God Khunum and the rise of the Nile to the king, who then had a dream in which the Nile God spoke to him, promising to end the drought.
The parallels with the biblical story of Joseph have long been commented upon. More recently, the Joseph parallels have led some historians to identify Imhotep as Joseph, and to argue that the supposedly thousand years separating them, are indicative of a faulty chronology. He was it seems the personal physician to King Djoser and lived in about 2600 BC.
He was the Architect of the Step pyramid at Saqqara and as such the father of Egyptian Pyramid construction, as this is believed to be the first Pyramid to have been built in Egypt.
Imhotep was considered so important that he was, after his death, worshipped as the god of medicine in the same way as the Greek Physician Aesculapius was 1200 years later. There are those who even dare suggest that he should be considered the father of medicine.
"By 3000 B.C. the art of Egypt was so ripe and so far, advanced that it is surprising to find any student of early culture proposing that the crude contemporary art of the early Babylonians is the product of a civilization earlier than that of the Nile".2
Imhotep, this seemingly very intelligent man, was a commoner, who was he? He rose to the rank of Prime Minister, he is said to have interpreted the Kings dreams of seven years of famine! He was a doctor a builder and he saved the nation. Who was he? There are some who believe he was he the legendary Joseph of the coat of many colours? The Egyptians of course would say no with every fibre of their being, as that would put a Hebrew as one of their most famous ancestors.
The Egyptologists would also say no, apart from the fact if they admitted to such a preposterous claim the Egyptian authorities would never let them near an Egyptian dig again, their published theories about the era would be totally wrong, and their published books would be as much informative about history as King Arthur is.
Their pride and standing would take a knock. I wonder though?
So, it is that today's men of learning would agree that Imhotep is probably more famous for the building of King Djoser pyramid at Saqqara. If the title of father of medicine is disputed, what is not disputed, is his title as the father of Architecture.
His tomb is thought to be near the Step Pyramid near to where I am standing in the photo, and because of this, several thousand people were buried near to his tomb. It seems even in death, people felt that this physician and religious leader would be of use to them.3
It is here that there is one of the oldest records of a surgical procedure, the circumcision. Translated the writing says," he doesn't faint".
This is at the Mastab of AnkhMahor.
The Mastaba of AnkhMahor is situated on the northern side of Teti’s pyramid at Saqqara in the block of tombs belonging to the officials of the King’s Dynasty VI reign.
The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BC, stated the Egyptians practise circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely.” He also wrote: “They are the only people in the world—they at least, and such as have learnt the practice from them—who use circumcision.”
Imhotep was more than likely skilled in this surgical procedure. Sir William Osler tells us that Imhotep was the: "First figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity."4
Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis, gallstones, appendicitis, gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practised some dentistry. Imhotep extracted medicine from plants. He also knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica says: "The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep's reputation was very respected in early times. His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centres of medical teachings."
"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt".5
Egypt is a fascinating place, it has a history that is still not fully understood, why? It is because they have set benchmarks that they will not move from. One Archaeologist, Dr David Rohl tried to persuade the academics to look at the history in a slightly different context with regards to the established chronology.
He however was shot down in flames simply because they were scared that he might be right. "The alphabet was one thing when applied to clay or stone, and quite another when set down on light papyrus"
Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus 1825bc
During the time of the great Egyptian Pharaohs, it was thought by that society that at least thirty-six demons governed the body, each being responsible for a specific region. The physician was obliged to neutralise the evil with the help of priests before the medical treatment could begin.
This is very similar to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian practice and belief hundreds of years earlier.
The main sources of information about Egyptian medicine are contained in the Kahun (2000bc), Ebers and Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600bc) and these detailed gynaecological procedures, diagnosis, diseases and head injuries.
The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus (1825bc) was written during the reign of Amnemhat III, in the middle kingdom of Egypt’s chronology.
As the name suggests it detailed gynaecological procedures. It was found at El-Lahun by Flinders Petrie in 1889. Petrie is commonly known to Egyptologists as the father of Pots.
First translated by F.L Griffith in 1893 and published in the Petri Papyri from Kahun and Gurob.41 The text is divided into thirty-four sections, each section dealing with a specific problem and containing diagnosis and treatment, no prognosis is suggested. Treatments are non-surgical, mainly applying medicines to the affected body part or swallowing them.
The uterus is at times seen as the source of complaints revealing themselves in other body parts, for which its cleansing is recommended, either by oils and incense.
The name Egypt is derived from the hebrew name Mizraim, who was the son of Cush and grandson of Noah.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus c1600bc
In 1862 the American, Edwin Smith who some believe to be a forger of antiquities, (amongst many other unscrupulous titles) “acquired” the scroll whilst in Luxor from a Egyptian businessman named Mustapha Agha.
This scroll had been accredited to none other than Imhotep, although that was not the opinion of most archaeologists. It has been suggested by many that it was acquired via tomb robbers, which is believable as it was quite common, and it was easy to buy ancient artefacts on the black market at that time.
It is five meters long and is mainly concerned with surgery. It was translated in the 1930s by James Breasted who was helped by Dr. Arno Luckhardt, a professor of physiology. It describes 48 surgical cases of wounds of the head, neck, shoulders, breast and chest. It can still be seen at the New York Historical Society.6 Smith died in 1912.
The case notes in the Smith papyrus are arranged in a way that would be understood by modern physicians today.
Each case begins with a medical history and physical investigation of the patient, whose wound is characterised as “an ailment I can treat ”, “an ailment I shall contend with ”, or “an ailment which not to be treated” .6 On the right is an extract of the Papyrus.
Case Thirty-One Title: Instructions concerning a dislocation in a vertebra of [his] neck. Examination: If thou examinest a man having a dislocation in a vertebra of his neck, shouldst thou find him unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs on account of it, while his phallus is erected on account of it, (and) urine drops from his member without his knowing it; his flesh has received wind; his two eyes are bloodshot; it is a dislocation of a vertebra of his neck extending to his backbone which causes him to be unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs. If, however, the middle vertebra of his neck is dislocated, it is an emissio seminis which befalls his phallus.
Diagnosis: Thou shouldst say concerning him: One having a dislocation in a vertebra of his neck, while he is unconscious of his two legs and his two arms, and his urine dribbles. An ailment not to be treated."
A probable passage referring the “Great Pyramid” of Gizeh (which means Border) as a symbol of the coming Christ.
In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them." 7
The Great Pyramid is a mystery. An incredible piece of architecture and has so many mysteries that surround it. It is said that it is the bible in stone.
The Ebers Papyrus
The Ebers papyrus was found in Egypt in the 1870s, by the German Egyptologist George Ebers (1837-1898).
The Ebers Papyrus is a huge roll of more than 20 meters long and 30 cm wide. It is mainly an internal medicine reference, as well as charting diseases of the eye, skin, extremities, and some surgical related conditions 43 Anatomical and physiological terminology is also included. For treatment of those diseases, 877 recipes and 400 drugs are described.
It also includes a surprisingly accurate description of the circulatory system, noting the existence of blood vessels throughout the body and the hearts function as a centre of the blood supply. It also refers to birth control, diabetes mellitus, trachoma, hookworm and filariasis, as well as forms of arthritis.
The papyrus also contains a short section on psychiatry. It describes a condition of severe despondency that is equivalent to our modern definition of depression.
It also outlines a vast array of remedies especially herbal.
Herbal Remedies Mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus
Acacia (acacia nilotica)- vermifuge, eases diarrhoea and internal bleeding, also used to treat skin diseases.
Aloe vera - worms, relieves headaches, soothes chest pains, burns, ulcers and for skin disease and allergies.
Basil (ocimum basilicum)- excellent for heart.
Balsam Apple (malus sylvestris) or Apple of Jerusalem - laxative, skin allergies, soothes headaches, gums and teeth, for asthma, liver stimulant, weak digestion.
Bayberry (Myrica cerifera) - stops diarrhoea, soothes ulcers, shrinks haemorrhoids, repels flies.
Belladonna - pain reliever;camphor tree - reduces fevers, soothes gums, soothes epilepsy.
Caraway (Carum carvi; Umbelliferae)- soothes flatulence, digestive, breath freshener.
Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum; Zingiberacae)- Used as a spice in foods,digestive, soothes flatulence.
Colchicum (Citrullus colocynthis) - also known as "Meadow Saffron", soothes rheumatism, reduces swelling.
Common Juniper tree (Juniperis phonecia; Juniperus drupacea)- digestive, soothes chest pains, soothes stomach cramps.
Cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba; Piperaceae)- urinary tract infections, larynx and throat infections, gum ulcers and infections, soothes headaches.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)- soothes flatulence, relieves dyspepsia, laxative and diuretic properties.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) - respiratory disorders, cleanses the stomach, calms the liver, soothes pancreas, reduces swelling.
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) - throat and larynx infections, stops bleeding, cuts phlegm, asthma, stops vomiting.
Garlic (Allium sativa) - gives vitality, soothes flatulence and aids digestion, mild laxative, shrinks haemorrhoids, rids body of "spirits" (note, during the building of the Pyramids, the workers were given garlic daily to give them the vitality and strength to carry on and perform well).
Henna (Lawsonia inermis) - astringent, stops diarrhoea, close open wounds (and used as a dye).
Honey was widely used, a natural antibiotic and used to dress wounds and as a base for healing unguents, as was castor oil, coriander, beer and other foods.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) - mild laxative, expels phlegm, soothes liver, pancreas and chest and respiratory problems.
Mustard (Sinapis alba) - induces vomiting, relieves chest pains.
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) - stops diarrhoea, relives headaches, soothes gums, toothaches and backaches.
Onion (Allium cepa) - diuretic, induces perspiration, prevents colds, soothes sciatica, relieves pains and other cardiovascular problems.
Parsley (Apium petroselinum) - diuretic.
Mint (Mentha piperita) - soothes flatulence, aids digestion, stops vomiting, breath freshener.
Sandalwood (Santallum album) - aids digestion, stops diarrhoea, soothes headaches and gout (used, of course, in incense).
Sesame (Sesamum indicum)- soothes asthma.
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)- laxative.
Thyme (Thymus/Thimbra) - pain reliever.
Tumeric (Curcumae longa) - closes open wounds (also was used to dye skin and cloth).
Poppy (papaver somniferum) - relieves insomnia, relieves headaches, anaesthetic, soothes respiratory problems, deadens pain.7
Some believe the papyrus to be a copy of the even more ancient books of Thoth (3000BC), reputed father of medicine, pharmacy and alchemy. It is now in the University of Leipzig library.8
It was widely believed in ancient times that the God Thoth invented the magical and hermetic arts, and thus the Tarot deck is frequently referred to as the "Book of Thoth". He was associated with the moon; as the sun vanished. This is why the images of the Tarot cards are familiar to his attributes. Thoth tried to dispel the darkness with his light, he was also a healer and mediator in wars.
Thoth is another one of those Gods that can be traced back to Nimrod, and was also known as the God of truth and time.
A wall scene at a Mastaba which means literally Stone Bench at Saqqara shows a physician (some say was a Priest or Vizier) by the name of Ankh Mahor. The doorway does suggest a connection between medicine and religion and was excavated by Victor Loret in 1899. It shows Ankh Mahor treating two patients with foot problems, the text reads “do not let it be painful” this certainly suggests that they had given some sort of anaesthetic or analgesic potion to null the pain.
Later in the fourth century BC, the centre of medical excellence was not Cos, the home of Hippocrates. It was to be found at the great centre of Greek learning at Alexandria, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great and governed by a dynasty stemming from his great general, Ptolemy.
Financial support was given to the library and museum at Alexandria, which-consequently attracted researchers in all fields. Medical research in the Alexandrian museum became world renowned. Tragically the Library was destroyed by fire and most of the contents were lost.
The Egyptians mastered the art of bone setting but were primarily a race of druggists.
Incredible today the great structure that are the Pyramids still stand today, although ravaged by thieves and time they are still a marvellous site to behold. When you stand at the base of the Great Pyramid and look up, you realise what a marvel of engineering these are.
The Great Pyramid was without any Hieroglyphs, it has also been suggested that the “graffiti” found was put there by Colonel Vyse to justify his great expense in searching for answers
“The metaphor of the king as the shepherd of his people goes back to ancient Egypt. The use of this particular convention is due to the fact that, being stupid, affectionate, gregarious, and easily stampeded, the societies formed by sheep are most like human ones.”9
1 The History of Herodotus By Herodotus Everyman's Library 1997 Orig Written
2 Ancient Egyptian Mysticism and Its Relevance Today, Page: 5
3 Monarchs of the Nile, Dodson, Aidan, 1995, Rubicon Press. ISBN 0-948695-20-x
4 Imhotep, Doctor, Architect, High Priest, Scribe and Vizier to King Djoser, Jimmy Dunn
5 Mark Twain
6 Breasted J.H 1930 The Edwin Smith Papyrus
7 Isaiah 19:19-20 King James Version
8 Medicine In Old Egypt Transcribed from the History of Science by George Sarton Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead
9 Northrop Frye http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/ancient_egypt/