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Lecture 2

PUBH2209 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Egyptian Medical Papyri, Pneumoconiosis, Celery


Department
Population Health
Course Code
PUBH2209
Professor
Angus Cook
Lecture
2

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Medicine in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
***RELATES TO THE SHORT ANSWER QUESTION (5%) IN THE EXAM UNDER ANCIENT EGYPITAN
MEDICAL THOUGHT AND PRACTICE
Stylized pictures of objects that were used to represented a word or syllable
-
can be seen
inscribed on monuments)
Hieroglyphs
Artistic representations/illustrations
Text written on a form of paper made from the papyrus plant, which grows in wetland
areas: along Nile
-
the text was often based on a simplified and abbreviated form of the
hieroglyphic script)
Medical papyri
Source of historical medical information:
Foundations of Western concepts of health and disease
Thursday, 7 March 2019 2:24 PM
Lectures Page 1

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Study of human remains, both skeletal and soft tissue, of ancient Egyptians
Average life expectancy
: ¬30 to 35 years; very few people lived over 60 years of age
Most of the daily calories from grains/bread (barley and emmer= an early form of wheat) in
the context of reasonably mixed diet including waterfowl, fish vegetables (eg: beans, peas,
celery) fruit, and palm nuts; beef for the wealthy widespread production of beer and wine
BUT also evidence of malnutrition/nutrient deficiencies in skeletal remains (and famine
years)
Nutritional state:
longstanding success due to the adequacy of nutrition for most of its population
Infected wounds/abscesses
Parasitic/worm infestations (eg: bihariza, or schistosomiasis
-
still common today
--
>
evidence of these worms/eggs found in mummified remains and are referred to in medical
papyri
Malaria
Tuberculosis (including evidence of spinal TB in skeletal remains)
Leprosy
Chronic eye infections (trachoma)
Infections:
Animal bites/sings (scorpions/snakes)
Industrial accidents
Injuries from warfare
Pneumoconiosis (lung disease from mineral dusts)
Based on recent CT scans of Egyptian mummies (of wealthy and high status individuals)
--
>
there is also evidence of
atherosclerosis/ heart disease
-
so not just a modern problem
Other health problems:
Health issues and diseases found in ancient Egypt:
physicians (swnw)
Priests ('w'bw')
Magicians ('s'w')
Physicians held in high regard in society
Hierarchical structure
Health Care in Ancient Egypt:
Physicians often prepared their own medicines and charged for these or exchanged these for
other goods
Lectures Page 2
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