Egyptians had good ideas on how to treat people of minor illnesses, cuts and broken bones. They wrote all their knowledge down on papyrus, we know this because we have found such findings. The Egyptians have found cures for diseased eyes and diseased bladders. Also on papyrus, there are instructions telling us how to treat a broken nose. All these cures were natural, they used herbs, plants and things they found around them, they even used mice!

The medicine aspect had a great link to the religious aspect. They used Draram to stop evil spirits from coming near a person (Draram was classed as a medicine).

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The doctors were segregated into three groups, they were: surgeon-healers, priest-doctors and pure magicians. If the surgeon-healer failed to heal the patient, the priest-doctor would try. The priest-doctors recited special prayers to the gods during treatment. If this failed, the pure magicians would have a go. They would use the gods Thoth, Sehmet, Isis and Imohtep to try and heal the patient; all these gods were associated with healing. People went to the temples of these gods to find a cure; they would also be able to spend the night in a room next to the temple so that the gods could visit them in their dreams. The pure magician would recite spells or used ivory wands to draw magic circles of protection around the sick person.

There was also a link between medicine and religion in mummification.

Practical Surgery

Practical surgery was practised in Egypt. They knew how to set bones and it has been proven. There is a bone showing clearly where it broke and healed again. There were no plaster casts in those days so bones often did not heal quite straight. They could also remove cataracts and growths.

The Egyptians used tools which were mostly made out of bronze. Egyptians had skilled crafts men, especially in the bronze sector.

They also used practical surgery on their dead. Mummification was carried out on dead Egyptian bodies, by a surgeon who knew where all the organs lay. They would cut open a slit on the side of the body and take the organs out except the heart. The heart was needed for the after-life. The other organs were placed in a jar. The brain was taken out through the nose and was put in a jar too. Egyptians believed in after-life, so they preserved their body in order to use it in the after-life.

A lot was found out about the organs when Egyptians took a look inside of a person. They knew about the organs but the functions of the organs were unknown to them. They knew about veins but they thought the brain was of no use, they thought the heart was used for thinking, not the brain. They knew that the heart pumped something around the body, but they thought it was air and water.

Written Language

The written language that Egyptians used was called 'hieroglyph' meaning 'sacred writing'. The Egyptians believed that the writing was given to them form the god of wisdom, Thoth. They called their writing 'mdw ntr' which means 'the words of god'.

Hieroglyphics is a very complex system consisting of hundreds of pictures. Many of these pictures stand for the actual object; often a small strole near to it to confirm this, but as well as an object, each picture may represent the sound. Many of the other signs represent more than one letter and sound and have some other meaning. Often it was difficult to tell what the word meant from just the 'letter' signs, so another sign was added at the end of the word to show what kind of word it was. These signs are called 'determinatives'.

Hieroglyphs could be read form up, down, left and right depending on the way the pictures were drawn.

Hieroglyphs took a long time to write; priest also found out this and developed a shorthand which was called 'hieratic'. A later on script simplified even more and was called 'Demotic'.

The closest language to the Egyptians is 'coptic' which was developed from hieroglyphs, but was changed so that it was not difficult to describe Christian beliefs with it.

We can understand hieroglyphs thanks to the Rosetta stone which was discovered in 1799. It had three types of script written down on it, they were Demotic, Greek and Hieroglyphs, this enabled Champol-Lion to decipher hieroglyphs. By comparing the scripts, the hieroglyphs were deciphered.


Egypt had widespread trade links. Ships and merchants arrived form China, India and parts of Africa bringing new herbs and plants with them. Many of these herbs and plants were recommended as medicines, so Egyptian healers built up a wide knowledge of herbal medicines.

They also traded ideas with a few places, mostly China because they had a written language as well. They traded ideas which were written down. Trade was very important to the Egyptians. It helped them get a better understanding of the world and about different herbs and plants, which could be used to heal people. It also gave them a friendly relationship with other cultures.

Role of Pharaoh

The Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was a god and should be treated like one. He/she was a god because the Egyptians that he/she was the son/daughter of Amun-Ra and Mut which made them a god.

The Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was both god and earthly ruler, acting in accordance with the Egyptian concept of Maat, which signified truth, order and justice.

The Pharaoh should maintain the original order of the universe on Earth by opposing the forces of chaos. Under his/hers benevolent protection, the Nile floods and even human relations remained untroubled. It was the Pharaoh who was responsible for building their temples and shrines.

His/her divine birth was not enough and he received additional power required to fulfil hid mission through the rituals of enthronement. The jubilee celebrations were held after the first 30 years of the Pharaohs reign, this was a sacred ritual designed to replenish his/her strength which may have been weakened during the years of his/her rule. The ceremony was repeated, at shorter intervals, if the Pharaoh felt that he/she needed to regenerate his/her strength.

Because of their divine origins and the heavenly blood flowing through their veins, the woman of royal birth was considered equal to the male counterparts and could either exercise royal power in their own right or transfer it to their husband. This relationship between Pharaohs and gods explains the needs for inter-marriage of the brothers and sisters which preserved the purity of their divine blood.