Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.
John F. Nunn is not only a distinguished physician, being the former
Head of the Division on Anaesthesia of the Clinical Research Centre, British
Medical Research Council, but is also an Egyptologist with a facility in the
ancient language—fortuitous qualifications for the advancement of research
into ancient Egyptian medicine.
This text is a comprehensive compilation of the many fragmentary papyri
on the subject and is interpreted from a modern medical perspective. Because
translations of the many seminal documents exist only in German, Ancient Egyptian Medicine provides tantalizing insights for the English-speaking
laity. Nunn admits that the fragmentary evidence permits only a disjointed
understanding of anatomy and medical treatment, but what is known points to
a relatively sophisticated knowledge in some areas of treatment. For example,
the Edwin Smith Papyrus deals with the diagnosis and treatment of trauma injuries
and compares favorably to modern first aid practices. "Remedies" for a host
of ills that include ingredients with known pharmacologic effect are presented,
as are others that incorporate magical spells and the placebo effect of sacred
amulets to effect healing.
Burridge AL. Ancient Egyptian Medicine. JAMA. 2003;290(6):826–827. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.826-a
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