A Comparison of the Medical Knowledge and Practises of the Ancient Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks

Essay by english_summer May 2004

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The Ancient Egyptian civilisation was first developing around 3000 BC. They were settlers and farmers meaning that because they did not have to constantly move home they had more time to learn and discover about science and medicine. They had two types of doctors: priest-magicians who dealt with disease and illness supposedly caused by the Gods, or evil-spirits and physicians who dealt with diseases with natural causes. The priest-magicians would provide potions and charms to ward off evil-spirits and the physicians would use herbs, and even simple surgery to cure people.

The Greeks on the other hand developed later, around 1600 BC, whilst the Egyptians were still flourishing. They believed that evil spirits caused some disease as the Egyptians did, and often visited temples such as the Temples of the Cult of Asclepios, who was supposed to be a hero turned Healer God who would cure you of your illness whilst you slept.

As their culture evolved however, Greek Philosophers and Doctors found more and more natural causes for disease. This did not mean they abandoned the old beliefs of Gods and evil-spirits, but less and less emphasis was being put on them.

The Later Greek doctors believed that since these illnesses had natural causes they must have natural cures too, and tried to only speed up nature's natural healing process through bleeding or eating certain food such as barley soup or vinegar and honey.

There is evidence of simple surgery being carried out by the Egyptians such as the removal of cysts. We also know that the Egyptians knew something about anatomy due to the fact that they extracted some of the inner organs during the process of Mummification. We know that there were some parts of the body that could not be touched after death, like the eyeballs,