Beginning of Medicine in Ancient Egypt: Analytical Essay

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As it is apparent to everyone, if human beings and other living organisms born, grow and die, in order to survive, they need water, air, food, and as one of main necessities medicine. Since humans exist, they face different types of illnesses, pains, wounds and they search for solutions to these. In ancient Egypt, people used to have medical treatment that was learned from Ancient Mesopotamian civilization. But due to geographical changes and different living standards, they needed to develop and invent new methods of medicine. And also in Mesopotamia, writing was on clay tablets and during wars, some of them were destroyed and couldn’t be passed to other next civilizations. I think, therefore, Egyptians needed to create new treatment system in order to live healthy in inconvenient circumstances. They were successful in it but as first human beings, some Egyptian beliefs about healing were based on myths and there were spells and incantations. They had god of medicine and magic, and when something happens to individual, in their belief, this was due to lesson of god to that person. This was about their religious belief, but it doesn’t mean that only magicians treated people. They were teaching medicine as subject and education was seen as main transporter of development to next generations. Unlike some of magical treatment methods are still mysterious to us, but with the use of papyrus, they were able to pass their achievements in medicine to next civilizations such as Greece and Roman. They had invented proper medicine instruments for surgery and used mummifying after death. In this paper, I am going to investigate religious beliefs such as magical developments and treatment in medicine system of Egypt and how they achieved to improve themselves in the area of medication and understanding human body.

In ancient Egypt, people worshipped to one god, but there were different gods for various actions that happened in citizens’ life. When something happened them or they have a problem, they were approaching to specific god who they believed that would help them. Unlike other polytheistic religions, in Egypt, even for each part of body, there was appropriate god. I think it was one way of keeping people under control. Three types of healers were existing there for sick persons. First type was surgeons who had tentative techniques and had no idea about microbe and bacteria. Because of lack of knowledge and experience, they didn’t know the cause of illnesses and used technique of asking lots of questions at least to detect where pain comes from. Main causes of sicknesses were believed to be evil spirits or punishment from god. Second type of healers was considered as delegate for charm and spells, and was thought to able to specify illnesses directly. At that time, they discovered and used honey. In my opinion, it was due to fact that honey was remedy for lots of illnesses as it is today and was benefited widely because there were no more other medicines to use. Third type was physicians and they were studying medicine subjects in schools. But they learned it from traditional ways or manuscripts which were not very reliable and proven scientifically. İf a disease happened by natural reasons, patient first would go to physicians. The God was like king of other gods and it was easy to manipulate people with their sicknesses. If there were more gods for each illness, it means everything about problems of people which is weak point of them, is gathered into hands of gods and The God. However, these gods helped citizens with magical ways but they also used to have drugs magical words stated on that they gave people when magic itself didn’t work more. But again drugs were showed as having magic religious value rather than pharmacological significance. In my point of view, gods were making these drugs and giving them to the people in order to not lose their power in front of people when their magic doesn’t better patients. In spite of all limitations in magical treatment ways and religious beliefs toward medicine, in Egyptian medicine system, religious, magical and natural ways of treatment were always preferred and used.

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Medical system of ancient Egypt is considered creation of medical care despite of the fact that it was first used in Mesopotamia. Because, in Mesopotamia, ancient people could not be able to improve their basic methods of treatment as Egyptians did. At first times, as I mentioned above, people in Egypt, relied on more myths than real treatment ways, because they hadn’t discovered them yet. But in my opinion, gradually, this unclear method lost its power and people needed to search for more effective ways. When people want something more and more, they start to think a lot and find more appropriate way for their health problems. Due to geographical location of Egypt, there were many types of illnesses and wild, harmful animals spread there which damaged people and harm their body. Also in building of pyramids, there were lots of wounded people who died then because of lack of knowledge. I think death of lots of people forced educated citizens to find remedy. There were pictures on stone that show part of bodies of animals and it means they were aware that organs exist but before human body they experienced it in animal bodies. At the beginning, as we know, they used mummification after death. Embalmers had knowledge about inside organs of person, but because of lack of connection between doctors or healers and embalmers, and religious law that forbade studying body, doctors had no idea about organs. After some time, they got knowledge about organs of human by using body of death people in their practices. They also suffered from attacks of wild animals such as lion, jackals and others, and they needed to make medicine against poisons. I think it also affected them to deep understanding of medical treatment and making medicaments. They used beer and wine for treatment and they showed them as gift of The God to people. Of course, they were full with vitamins and were effective in medical care. But I think most of people accepted it as a gift because they gave pleasure and people pray for The God and worshipped it for such gift. With the use of these materials and honey, they were able to make pills and specific liquids for wounds. There is “Ebers Papyrus” where most of medical innovations are written and there is one quote about heart: “The respiratory system: When we breathe in through our noses, the air enters our hearts and lungs, and then the entire belly.' It means they had information about heart and they knew that it pumps but they did not know its function. I think it was also about not having contact between embalmers and doctors.

All in all, Egypt civilization were acquainted with medical treatment from the beginning. They brought it from Mesopotamia and developed in an accurate and fastest way for that time. As you see from “Ebers Papyrus”, they first started with simple tools and they worshipped lots of gods in order to help them and solve their problems. They used magical methods to find remedy to diseases but after a time, they understood that it was not the solution to illnesses and begun to think more and experienced on environment and living thing. In early times, they believed myths and myths were explaining environmental changes in nature but there were no any proved facts. After they discovered new method of remedy such as, herbs, drugs and medicines, they brought new innovation to whole medical world. Not only new remedy methods, but also new surgery tools were invented in Egypt where then named starting point of medical treatment and new discoveries. Although, Egyptians found new way for treatment rather than magical medicine system, there were existing gods in every position of their life. Egyptian type of medicine system and their innovations had passed to other civilizations and today covers main part of medical treatment.

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