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Ancient Egyptian and Greek Ideas about Disease

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Western University
History 2812E
Shelley Mc Kellar

History 2812 – Global Disease Lec 2 Nov 7 Essay - Speckled Monster 400 pages. - Extrapolate historical themes and apply them to this class. Prof likes the idea of power. Three main points to make your argument.Apaper is about analysis. Contemporary and current significance. This is historical fiction – read the historical documents surrounding this event. There is an attached link. Ancient Egyptian and Greek Ideas about X-rays allow us to look at Mummies in greater detail. – Can find out average height and weight – Diseases – arthritis, tooth decay heart diseases, tb, polio. – Find eggs in livers from parasites There is a problem with this – Only the rich get mummified. So we can only see what the elite diseases were. Common people may have suffered from other afflictions. During this period 5000-1000 BC they practice Priestly Medicine – Priest-physician : they brought together the supernatural and the natural – When trade increases disease will follow. Communities bring disease with it. – 2000 BC Great pyramids built – How do they treat diseases? Homer visits Egypt in 1000 BC, described it as “the mother country of disease” but they also praise the physicians at this time. There are a lot of physicians they were specialized. The top of the food chain is the priest-physician. (Three healers, priest, healer, and magician) – Believed spirits and demons caused disease. - you would need spells to eradicate them. Idea the demons would come into your body through orifices and devour your vitals. You can pray to good spirits to heal you. In addition certain gods caused certain diseases (could also heal them as well) so you could pray to them to heal you. – Your body could be threatened by certain winds – To be healthy meant to live a good life – be at peace with the gods, be in balance – Example: someone might be struck blind they might pray to a specific god for mercy and healing. The healer might turn to the gods for you, burn victim – magician may swab the body with milk from a mother of a baby boy – pray to isis – There were also songs and dances for healing – Get rid of worms – exorcism or through physical purging. - take an emetic – Tried to keep the inside of their bodies very clean – knew they could eat bad food or get worms. So even if you were healthy you would still have an purging routine, emetics and laxatives. Also encourage good diet. Imhotep becomes a god of medicine – was a real guy lived in 27 century bc – physician of the Pharaoh – Becomes very integrated in the pharaohs activites – Becomes, scribe, mage, astronomer, and a bunch of other positions – reaches god status after death Edwin Smith Papyrus – speculated that these are imhoteps cases (not penned by him but possibly a student) – named after the guy who found it (technically he purchased it) – Focuses more on surgery (48 descriptions/ cases) – Practical medicine mixed with magic Ebers Papyrus – Oldest surviving medical book of the time. – Collection of prescriptions, incantations – describes diseases and their remedies – Named after the discoverer Documents about mummification are also important – they have to know how to use tools within the body – clear understanding of the body Talk about channels of the body – water, air and how they went through the body – extrapolate natural life to the body – water from the nile irrigated for crops. Idea that if something is wrong there might be a blocked channel Smallpox Recorded during this time (also in china and india) (last case reported 1977) Mainly effected children and young adults Kills 30% of those infected. Most survivors came out with pock marks How do we know Egyptian died of this Ramses V – His mummy shows pock marks. – Two years after his death before burial – possible fear of getting his disease 4 main point priest-phys supernatural suffered from infection, worms Medical papery of the time shows empiricism Greek Medicine th – We know very little until 5 cent bc with written text – priestly medicine before this time – Sac
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