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Causes of illness:

(natural) injuries

(supernatural) spirits & witchcraft


(natural) herbs, mud & clay

(supernatural) magic, chants, praying

Trephinning: cutting/drilling a hole in the skull to let the evil spirits out ( believed to be a cure for headaces) (S.N)



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How did Egypt affect medicine:

The Nile: The Nile helped the crops grow> people had more time to focus on engineering, medicine etc.> could also trade!

Irrigation: The Egyptians built channels to get water to the crops> they couldn't get blocked or the crops would die> people learnt about disease

Hieroglyphics: Meant they could keep records of medicines & treatments

Religion: religious beliefs may have helped them learn about the human body> taking out the liver, lungs, stomach & intestines> MUMMIFICATION.

Isolation: Egypt didn't get invaded> had more time to make steady progress in medicine

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How Egyptian life affected health and medicine:

A wealthy country: Egypt was a wealthy country> wealth was based on the river Nile> when the river flooded it gave the surrounding crops moisture> meant the farmers had a good harvest> more food!

Specialist doctors: the rich employed doctors> Pharoah had his own physician> they spent much of their lives trying to improve their understanding of medicine.

Trade: Egypt had widespread trade links> ships and merchants arrived from India, China and parts of Africa> they brought herbs & plants> Many of these herbs we reccommended as medicines> Egyptian healers built up a wide range of knowledge of herbal medicines

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Egyptian- causes of illness

what they believed:

the heart was the mosst important organ in the body

disease was caused by undigested food rotting in the bowels.

what they knew:

about the heart, pulse, liver, brain, lungs & blood

channels lead from the heart> normally carried blood, air & water

rotting food let of gases> seeped along the channels causing disease in different places> prevented the normal flow of blood, air & water

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Super-natural ideas about medicine

Causes: Gods e.g Sekhmet

              Evil spirits

Doctors: priest magicians

              doctors worked in temples ( some temples had sacred lakes and a

              sanatorium where patients could stay overnight)

Treatments: Shrines




                    Bathing in sacred water ( get closer to the Gods)

Prevention: Keeping clean ( to be closer to Gods)




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Egyptian Doctors


They had a good reputation> Kings of other countries used them

- Listen to patients' symptoms> examine them using their eyes and hands

- Reach their diagnosis> say if the illness could be treated

- Treat the patient using experience of patients with similar illnesses


People kept clean to prevent disease> also kept their homes clean> mainly to do with religious beliefs ( being clean would be a good way of being at peace with the Gods and spirits)

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Natural causes & treatments


Had good understanding of external injuries> many were caused by battle, working, or animals> when injuries were obvious e.g. flesh wounds, fractures bites & stings> didn't use magic.

Wall paintings suggest many Egyptians suffered from parastites and especially worms> diseases of the eye e.g. smallpox and plague were also common


Herbs & plants were used to treat illnesses> Egyptians also used rotton bread, substances like lead, copper, salts & carbons, radishes, garlics & onions were also used.

When illnesses were internal Egyptians had more problems> they believed poisonous substances blocked channels or vessels> this led to disease> they tried to clear blockages by blood-letting*, vomiting & laxitives.

*Blood-letting: was carried out by puncturing the skin or using leeches.

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near the water> they had access to food & trade

climate was warm> didn't catch illness from codl> could grow food


organized> city states

Kings had personal doctors> they had to be trained

wasn't any fighting (everyone got along)


could grow enough food> they could learn new skills

traded around the meditaranian


everything was influenced by the Gods S.N

Philosophy was important> the Egyptians were philosophers

they had money> could buy slaves> they could study medicine

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Theory of the 4 Humours

Spring                 Air                  Blood

       Summer              Fire                Yellow bile

     Autumn                Earth              Black bile

  Winter                 Water             Phlegm

They believed illness was caused by blood, yellow bile, black bile & phlegm.

They also believed they were connected to the seasons.

Greeks thought these were the humours that built up the body.

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