Ancient Egypt and Medicine: Unraveling the Healing Arts

The ancient Egyptians, with their grand pyramids and magnificent pharaohs, also made significant contributions to the field of medicine. As one of the most advanced civilizations of their time, the ancient Egyptians possessed a wealth of knowledge and practices related to healthcare and healing. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of ancient Egypt medicine, exploring their medical knowledge, treatments, practitioners, and the enduring legacy they left on the development of medicine through the ages.

Medical Knowledge and Expertise

The ancient Egyptians had a deep understanding of the human body and its functions, which was influenced by their religious beliefs and the concept of maintaining balance in life. Their medical knowledge was recorded in various papyri, including the Ebers Papyrus and the Edwin Smith Papyrus.

The Ebers Papyrus, dated around 1550 BCE, is one of the oldest and most comprehensive medical texts, containing information on various diseases, treatments, and surgical procedures. The Edwin Smith Papyrus focuses on surgical cases and provides detailed descriptions of injuries and their treatments.

Treatments and Remedies

Ancient Egyptian medicine encompassed a wide range of treatments and remedies for various ailments. Their approach to medicine was holistic, addressing both physical and spiritual aspects of health.

Herbal Medicine: The ancient Egyptians extensively used herbal remedies for treating various illnesses. They employed plants such as aloe vera, garlic, and frankincense for their medicinal properties.

Surgical Procedures: The ancient Egyptians were skilled in performing surgical procedures, particularly in cases of injuries and wounds. They used basic surgical instruments, such as knives, forceps, and probes.

Magic and Incantations: Magic and incantations were also a significant part of their medical practices. They believed that invoking the power of gods and goddesses could aid in the healing process.

Medical Practitioners

In ancient Egypt, medical practitioners held a revered position in society. Physicians, known as “swnw,” were highly skilled and had specialized knowledge in various medical fields. They were often priests who combined their religious duties with healing practices.

In addition to physicians, there were also “wnw” or medical assistants who helped in administering treatments and preparing herbal remedies. These assistants were trained in basic medical procedures and often worked under the guidance of physicians.

Enduring Legacy and Influence

The medical knowledge and practices of ancient Egypt had a lasting impact on the development of medicine throughout history. Their emphasis on documenting medical information laid the foundation for medical records and scientific inquiry.

The surgical techniques and knowledge of anatomy recorded in the Edwin Smith Papyrus are considered precursors to modern surgical practices. The use of herbal medicine and the understanding of the medicinal properties of plants also influenced the development of pharmacology.


Ancient Egypt medicine was a testament to the ingenuity and knowledge of this remarkable civilization. Their holistic approach to healthcare, advanced surgical practices, and understanding of herbal remedies showcased their dedication to preserving life and alleviating suffering.

As we continue to explore the legacy of ancient Egypt, we recognize their invaluable contributions to the field of medicine. Their medical knowledge and practices laid the groundwork for the advancement of medicine, influencing the healing arts that continue to evolve and shape the healthcare practices of our modern world.

Wikipedia: Ancient Egypt
History Channel: Ancient Egypt
Live Science: Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt for Kids
British Museum: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt