Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Egyptian Papyri

Edwin Smith Papyrus
The Egyptian Papyri (circa 1825 - 1550 BCE) are a set of documents on various subjects, some of which are on medicine. Though none of the authors of these documents are known, the people behind their discovery and translation from hieroglyphic/hieratic system in which they were written to modern scripts and languages are an important part of the diverse history of medicine.

Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) English Egyptologist and pioneer of systematic methods in archeology discovered the Kahun Papyrus in 1889, one of the fragments of which, named the Kahun Gynecological
Papyrus, is considered the oldest treatise in medicine.

Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934) An eminent english egyptologist, he translated the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus in 1893, which was published as The Petrie Papyri: Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob.

Edwin Smith  (1822-1906) American dealer and collector of antiquities, after whom one of the most important historical documents in medicine is named. The Edwin Smith Papyrus describes various methods in trauma surgery and as such it is the oldest written surgical treatise. 

Jame Henry Breasted (1865-1935) American archeologist & historian, responsible for the translation of the Edwin Smith papyrus.

Georg Moritz Ebers (1837-1898) German Egyptologist & novelist, he discovered the medical papyrus named after him in 1873 at Luxor, which is among the most important of the ancient Egyptian medical papyri. The Ebers Papyrus, which describes various diseases along with their remedies, is the most voluminous text on egyptian medicine yet discovered. Georg Ebers was also a popular novelist, whose works did much to make the public familiar and more interested in ancient Egypt and its culture.


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