Ancient Egyptian Medicine

By: Olivia Cunningham and Frankie Readshaw

Not Your Average Prescription

Unlike today's common prescriptions, Ancient Egyptians had many strange ways to cure their own diseases. For example, honey and old human brains along with powdered liver were used to help cure eye diseases. Herbs, acupuncture, and prayer were also often used to cure many diseases. Although many of the cures stated above may sound odd to us today, it was the ancient Egyptians who paved the way for today's modern prescriptions and disease diagnoses.
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Why Medicine?

Medicine and the study of the human body came to be after examination of a dead pharaohs body while it was getting ready for mummification. Due to fact they were removing organs, they were the first people to discover cancers and perform simple organ transplants. Egyptians also became very good at fixing and mending broken bones and sewing cuts closed. The ancient Egyptians are to thank for most early medical techniques and surgical methods; without their early examination of the body, we may have never developed the techniques we have in medicine today.


The pharaohs body was mummified because Egyptians believed that you needed your body in the afterlife. if your body decayed, your soul would be forced to wander forever. Before you mummify the body and wrap it tightly with linen, it must be embalmed. First, the body is cleaned with good-smelling palm wine and water from the Nile. Second, all organs are removed from the body with exception of the heart (Egyptians believed that the heart was their main source of intelligence) because the organs are the first part body to decay. Next, the body was covered and stuffed with natron, which would help dry out the body. 40 days later, the body was washed again with water from the Nile and oils to help keep the skin elastic looking. Then, the organs are wrapped in linen and returned to the body, which is filled with materials such as sawdust and linen so it looks lifelike. Finally, the body is washed for the last time with water and oils, and is ready to be wrapped in linen. Now, the first step in the wrapping of the linen process takes place; the head and neck are wrapped tightly with stiff linen, and the fingers and toes are individually wrapped. Next, the arms and legs are wrapped separately. In addition, the embalmers place little jewels in between the layers of linen. The jewels are believed to help the Pharaohs in the afterlife. Then, the arms and legs are wrapped together and a papyrus scroll with spells from the book of the dead is placed in the Pharaoh's hands. Next, more strips of linen are wrapped around the body and glued together. Then, a piece of cloth is wrapped around the body and a picture of Osiris is painted on the surface. Finally, a large cloth is wrapped around the entire mummified body, and is attached with strips of linen that run up and down and side to side. While the process of mummifying the body was a long and time-consuming process, it was a process that was considered extremely important for the journey to the afterlife.

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Then And Now

Without the Ancient Egyptians and their discoveries of the human body, we may not have the advances in medicine we have today. Ancient Egyptians were some of the first humans to perform surgeries and diagnose medicine. As years went on, we have taken many of their findings and turned them into diagnoses and found cures for diseases and saved many of lives. For that, we will forever be thankful to Egyptians who pioneered and paved the way to our modern-day medical discoveries.