Doctors in Ancient Eygpt

Ancient Egyptian Doctors

Egyptian doctors have been popularised in modern culture through a number of films and books relating to Imhotep. The truth about doctors and physicians within Ancient Egypt is extraordinary. An ancient civilisation that formulated clear guidance on surgical procedures and treatments of a wide variety of illnesses. An Ancient Egyptian doctor had access to written guidance, training and high quality surgical tools.

Imhotep, priest-god. Doctor to the Pharoah

Modern medicine owes much to the Ancient Egyptians. Most famous of the Egyptian doctors is Imhotep, who is also renowned for his role as a Pyramid designer. Physicians such as Imhotep used a variety of methods to heal patients but based much of their practice upon religious belief: doctors in Ancient Egypt were also priests. It was common for different priests to act as specialist doctors for different parts of the body, in much the same way that doctors specialise now, as they believed that different gods governed different sectors of the human body.

Much of what we now know of Egyptian medicine and the work of the physicians comes from a variety of medical documents written by these physician-priests. These documents, known as ‘papyrus’ are the first known records of medical practice: a significant, if rather obvious, development on prehistoric practices. The various papyrus documents that have been recovered and translated show us that the Egyptians had developed an understanding of medicine: they inform us of cures to some illnesses and that they performed surgical operations to remove cysts and tumours.

Papyrus Ebers. One of the best preserved medical documents from Ancient Egypt.

Evidence of Ancient Egyptian Doctors and Physicians at work

The evidence provided by these early medical training manuals is quite remarkable. They show quite clearly that the Egyptians had identified and developed cures for a wide range of diseases, many of which cures are still in use today (Direct pressure on cuts to stop bleeding for example). Such was the extent of Egyptian knowledge that there are records of over 800 medical procedures and a vast array of surgical tools. There are also records of remedies that make use of over 600 drugs.

Ancient Egyptian MedicineDoctors in Ancient Egypt AlexandriaSurgery in Ancient EgyptReligion and Medicine Mummification

Medicine through time – Prehistoric Medicine – Egyptian Medicine – Greek Medicine – Roman Medicine – Medieval Medicine – Medicine in the Renaissance – Fight against Infectious Disease – Public Health in the Industrial Revolution – Modern Medicine – Revise for Medicine through time GCSE – GCSE History of Medicine resources

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