Medical papyruses



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The period between about 3100 BC when dynastic period began and 332 BC when Egyptian independence was brought to an end with the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great is normally referred as the Ancient Egyptian Civilization.

  • The period between about 3100 BC when dynastic period began and 332 BC when Egyptian independence was brought to an end with the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great is normally referred as the Ancient Egyptian Civilization.



Ancient Egyptians worshipped numerous Gods. Most of the Gods had animal or partly animal forms. Animal worship is a tradition of Egyptian beliefs as well. Magic played an important role in daily life.

  • Ancient Egyptians worshipped numerous Gods. Most of the Gods had animal or partly animal forms. Animal worship is a tradition of Egyptian beliefs as well. Magic played an important role in daily life.



Medical papyruses (or papyri) are one of the most important sources of information about medicine in ancient Egypt. Some of the important medical papyri are as follows:

  • Medical papyruses (or papyri) are one of the most important sources of information about medicine in ancient Egypt. Some of the important medical papyri are as follows:

  • Edwin Smith Papyrus 1550 BC

  • surgical, and mainly trauma

  • Edwin Smith papyrus gives information about injuries and wounds, their prognosis and treatment.







Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC)

  • Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC)

  • General information, mainly medical, includes various diseases, drug descriptions. It covers diseases of the abdomen, eyes, and skin. Lists cough treatments and lists herb, mineral and animal remedies.

  • Kahun Papyrus (1820 BC)

  • Gynecological information. It deals with animal medicine and gynecology including contraception.

  • Hearst Papyrus (1450 BC)

  • General medicine



  • Egyptians believed that the preservation of physical aspects of life on earth was essential for life in thereafter. This concept was the basis of mummification. Complicating embalming techniques were developed to preserve the dead body according to the religious belief of life after death.



Although mummification of human being and animals existed for thousands of years, the anatomical knowledge of the Egyptians were very superficial.

  • Although mummification of human being and animals existed for thousands of years, the anatomical knowledge of the Egyptians were very superficial.

  • They opened the human body during mummification, but they misunderstood and misinterpreted what they saw, because the aim of mummification was a part of religious ritual more than to have some knowledge about a human body.



There was no connection between the medical profession with the embalmers in ancient Egypt. Since they believed that the soul was seated in heart, they left it in its place.

  • There was no connection between the medical profession with the embalmers in ancient Egypt. Since they believed that the soul was seated in heart, they left it in its place.



Diseases prevalent in Ancient Egypt

  • Diseases prevalent in Ancient Egypt

  • A number of diseases can be well identified from descriptions in papyruses, pictures, inscriptions and mummies. Diseases resulting from water and food contamination and intestinal ailments were common.



Medical problems caused by worms, insects and scorpions were well known. Some parasites were also discovered in mummies. Eye diseases were also common because of the sand storms.

  • Medical problems caused by worms, insects and scorpions were well known. Some parasites were also discovered in mummies. Eye diseases were also common because of the sand storms.

  • Trachoma also existed in Ancient Egypt. Some ailments described in texts may resemble gonorrhea. Arthritis, kidney and bladder stones were probably frequent.



  • The usual term for a doctor was Sunu. Some physicians belonged to the priesthood and priests of the goddess Sekhmet (patroness of diseases) remedies and physicians.

  • There was a hierarchy among physicians. Court physicians were at the top of this hierarchy. Practice of medicine seems under state control.



Specialization in Medicine

  • Specialization in Medicine

  • Physicians were specialized for specific diseases or organs. Some dealt with the eye, some with head and some with teeth or belly etc. Lioness Sekhmet was believed to bring epidemics and disease. She was also the patronesse deity of doctors. But there existed some other Gods and Goddesses for the diseases. For example Gods Amun and Horus were responsible for the treatment of eye diseases etc.



Imhotep

  • Imhotep

  • Imhotep was chief vizier to the pharaoh Zozer, high priest, astrologist, pyramid designer but above all, a physician. His ‘sayings’ were later recorded and preserved.

  • Ancient Egyptians believed that he had great healing powers and was the founder of medicine. They deified him as a God of medicine. His cult survived for centuries in Egypt.



Imhotep became associated with healing rituals and temple sleep. Patients slept overnight in temples and expected to be visited by God in order to be cured. This practice would also exist in Ancient Greece later on, on behalf of God Asklepios.

  • Imhotep became associated with healing rituals and temple sleep. Patients slept overnight in temples and expected to be visited by God in order to be cured. This practice would also exist in Ancient Greece later on, on behalf of God Asklepios.



The Concept of Disease

  • The Concept of Disease

  • According to ancient Egyptians, life is in breath. The body has lots of canals (like river Nile) which carry blood, urine, air, semen, tears etc. obstructions in this canals are one of the reason for diseases.

  • All deities were associated with health or illness.



Treatment

  • Treatment

  • Therapeutics consisted a mixture of mystical and rational therapy. The prescriptions as recorded in papyri showed an amazingly complex knowledge of medicinal plants. Amulets were also mostly recommended and treatments involved with chants.

  • They believed vegetables and fruits had healing properties.

  • Application of cold heat and dressing also existed. Bloodletting by attaching leeches was also common in practice.



Surgery

  • Surgery

  • Surgery was limited to repairing injuries and bone fractures. Circumcision was done in Egypt as early as the fifth millennium B.C. and cauterization is clearly indicated in texts.









The concept of disease in Egypt. (the river Nile)

  • The concept of disease in Egypt. (the river Nile)

  • Numerous gods responsible for different organs

  • Written sources – the papyri

  • Very good knowledge on medicinal herbs

  • Mummification is performed, but anatomical knowledge is superficial

  • Specialization and hierarchy among physicians, medicine under state control

  • Limited surgery, circumcision, dentistry

  • Imhotep and its lasting infuence on Greek culture



Soru 1:

  • Soru 1:

  • Antik Mısır tıbbında özellikle öne çıkan uygulamalar nelerdi?

  • Cevap 1: Bitkisel ürünlerle tedavi, diş tedavisi, sünnet, mumyalama

  • Soru 2:

  • Antik Mısır tıbbının ünlü hekimi aşağıdakilerden hangisidir?

  • Cevap 2: İmhotep



A. Selim ATAY, İnönü Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi, translation

  • A. Selim ATAY, İnönü Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi, translation

  • Tolga GÜVEN, Marmara Üniversitesi Tıp Tarihi ve Etik AD ders notları

  • Ali Haydar BAYAT, Tıp Tarihi

  • Emine ATABEK, Şefik GÖRKEY, Başlangıcından Rönesansa Kadar Tıp Tarihi

  • Çağlar Boyu Tıp, Roche Yayınları

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page




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