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book15 How ancient egyptians medicated    
en  :  book15 How ancient egyptians medicated

Chapter III: Cylinders’ Medical Characteristics                                       



    Thinking over the results of medical investigations of Pharaoh’s Cylinders I used to ask questions to myself: whether they had served the Egyptians as the medical means or had been intended for something else and the healing characteristics were the side effect of something greater. As for me I am inclined to think that the second version is preferable with Cylinders.
     But still I was interested to know what exactly they had learned and had been able to do.
     Herodotus who once opened my eyes to the possible way of penetrating Egyptian knowledge to the Caucasus writes: “Every (Egyptian-author) doctor treats only one illness. That’s why they have plenty of doctors: the first cures eyes, the second cures heads, the third cures teeth, the fourth cures stomach, the fifth one cures internal illnesses.” The authority of Egyptian doctors was so great that the emperors of the neighboring countries very often invited them as personal doctors. Persian doctor Kir addressed Pharaoh Amasis with the request to send him an oculist “ the best one in Egypt”. There is a legend telling us about that later that eye specialist had such an enormous influence on emperor Kambiz, that succeeded in persuading his master to start an intrusion to Egypt. The oculist was not the only Egyptian doctor of Kambiz . The Persian emperor appointed priest Udjagorrecent “the greatest doctor” for his own self, who later left us his brief autobiography.
     Firstly I addressed to ancient Egyptian myths, legends and fairy-tales which came to us from centuries’ depth written in a form of religiously-magic texts and in the narrations of antique authors. Everybody who wants to feel that strange and irrational in many ways for our consciousness world of the inhabitants of the country of pyramids I recommend to open the book of Ancient Egyptian Myths. There are many things unusual for the man of the end of the XX century, but be sure the wonderful poetry sounding in these, may be the oldest narrations, won’t leave you indifferent.
     “ Handsome Gor came to the battle with Setkh, the murderer of his father and during the fight the cruel enemy beat out Gor’s eye. But Osiris’s son managed to win the battle, for good leaves no chance for evil. When Isida saw his horrible wound , she pressed his head to her breast and her heart suppressed from pain, as a heart of an ordinary mortal’s mother when she keeps her suffering child in her hands. And Isida thought at that moment:” How easy it is to wound but how difficult it is to cure it!” And tears ran from her eyes. One after another tear-drops fell on the ground and everywhere they turned into curative grass”.
     This way a German scientist-egyptologist retells us one of the myths about Gor, the son of the almighty Osiris, with the help of his character’s words, which is from his book “ Warda”.
     Egyptian gods were able to die and resurrect. They possessed charms, able to drive the illnesses away and bring deceased to live. “ To revive mummy a veil, making a wind breath is brought to the nostrils of it”.(G. Maspero.)
     It is mysteriously, isn’t it ? Gaston Maspero is a prominent French Egyptologist, whose name is connected with a sensational find of 32 mummies of the most powerful sovereign of Ancient Egypt. There were the remains of Ramses II, who had been called Great. He was the one who together with his warriors visited the beaches of the Black sea half-millennia before the famous Yason’s voyage to Colchis for the Golden Fleece.
     By the way, gasps of wind , pulsations, the ocean of our life waving milliards of rhythms, merge in the concept of the United Space breath of the Deity in many doctrines of the Devoted.
     According to another myth, the daughter of Ra the great, goddess Hator cured blind Gor with the milk of gazelle, and instantly he began to see clearly.
     When an opportunity offered gods could present an ordinary mortal with immortality. Once Isida grew fond of a baby, the son of a sovereign and decided to bring him to god’s rank. “She fed him not with a breast , but gave him her divine little finger for sucking. At night she put a little sovereign into the magic flame, which was made in the hearth and the flame was burning down his mortal parts of the body. While the child was laying in the fire, Isida, who turned into a swallow, was flying above a heather column crying ( I.V. Rak,” Myths of Ancient Egypt”). Unfortunately Isida couldn’t make the child immortal at that time. The child’s mother , Astrata, looked out of the door during the sacrament and on seeing the son burning , she let a heart-breaking shriek out, thus she deprived her baby the opportunity to gain immortality.
     Yes, gods could do many things. But they were gods. And what about ordinary mortals? The first acquaintance with recipes of the Egyptian doctors convinced me that patients sometimes had suffered not less than Astrata’s son in the magic flame of Isida. What’s your opinion of this medicine?
     “ 1/32 of mouse’s tail with honey, man’s brain with honey, grasshopper’s blood, pig’s teeth, rotten meat, spoiled fat, the excretion from pig’s ears, excrements and urine of different animals, women’s urine “ and etc.
     And if I take 1/33 of mouse’s tail, not 1/32 ? Will it work ? Here , no doubts, we deal with medicine, which is closely entwined with magic comprehension of it. We have basic knowledge about illnesses and medical products from 10 medical papyruses , named after their first owners ( Herst, Smith, Bitty, Carlsberg) or the names of the place they had been found at ( Kahuncian, from Ramesseum). Three of them have the names of the cities where they are kept now ( Leiden, London,Berlin). The tenth from them was published at first by George Ebers, and that’s why was named Ebers’s. It was found in1872 in one of the burial places in Thebes. The age of it is about 3500. The volume of this medical work is 108 pages and the general length is 20.5 meters. Besides the numerous recipes for treating various illnesses Ebers’s papyrus contains the chapter where the means of cosmetics are recommended for the removal of wrinkles, for the hair growing, for the beauty-spots removal and even for the skin colour changing. Each recipe is followed by the proper magic spells, without which it doesn’t work. Most of the recipes have complicated structure and dozens ( upto 37) components. Usually they represent tinctures with beer, honey and milk.
     Besides unusual components ( mice’s tails, parts of worms and excrements of pigs, goats and etc.) the papyrus recommends us well-known onion, garlic as well as grapes, melon, cucumbers, papyrus, lotus, dates , and other plants having medical characteristics.
     And how did people find out the sex of the expected child? Answering this question Berlin papyrus recommends wetting the seeds of wheat and barley with the urine of the pregnant woman . After doing it one has to look carefully what seeds will give sprouts first: if barley is the first you will have a boy, if it is wheat then wait for a girl.
     In general urine therapy was widely used in Ancient Egypt, especially precious was the urine of pregnant women, women who had recently given birth to a baby and menstruating women. And also the urine of various animals was applied. There are some well-known recipes. For instance vapour inhalation , when vapour is inhaled through the straw. For doing it two strange plants named “Hem” and “Emem” were used, which were heated in the pot on the hot stones.
     For treating stomach illnesses Egyptians used tinctures of castor, date pits and coriander. Mineral components such as iron, copper, sulfur, antimony, soda, alabaster, clay, saltpeter were also included into the medical mixtures.
     At drawing up the medicine the age of a man was occurred, as well as the day time and even the time of the year of taking in: “Another one for the stomach: parts of the castor plant-1/4, dates-5/2, Cyprian grass-1/16, coriander1/16, liquid beer-10. At night , when dew falls down, mix and drink for four days”.(Ebers’s papyrus).
     Ebers’s papyrus starts with solemn words, defining the position of the doctor in Ancient Egypt:” I come from Heliopolis with grandees of the greatest house, the sovereigns of magic defense, centuries tsars. I came from Sais along with gods’ mothers… I possess the words of the Almighty, to drive illness away and man’s and woman’s death which comes from gods and goddesses. It is applied to me:” I defend it from the enemies, the master of him is That who had given words, and created books, giving glory to the clever ones, doctors and his followers and making free those whom god loves and gives them to live.”Ima loved by god- may him give me a chance to live”.
     The papyrus’s end contains the knowledge about blood vessels, pulse and heart.
     “ The beginning of doctor’s secrets is the knowledge concerning heart movement, from which the vessels run to each part of the body, and every doctor every priest of goddess Sokhmet, every exorcist touching a head, a nape, hands, legs,in fact touches the heart: for vessels are directed from it to the each part of body..."
    " Not less serious knowledge the Egyptians had in surgery. For example the famous Smith’s papyrus on surgery was 5 meters length and contained the description of 48 types of traumas and the ways of their treating. Injures of scull bones, brain damages, spine damages, injures of chest, throat, collar-bones and soft covers. The same papyrus has information about one man, who fell down from a very big height. The poor thing was alive but his head went into the shoulders and the spinal column was broken in three places and one of the vertebras pressed another. It resulted in a loss of hearing and ability to speak as well as a full paralysis of extremities.
     There is one more message about a sudden accident which is on the wall of sovereign Washpta –a judge and a chief architect of pharaoh Nepherirkara (5th dynasty ). Nepherirkara with his courtiers were inspecting his buildings, which had been erected under Washpta’s supervision. Satisfied with what he had seen, he addressed his architect with the words of gratitude. Alas, the latter could not hear it anymore. The poor thing had an insult or a heart attack and died without regaining consciousness. Neither priests nor medical books which were urgently brought on occasion could help. Sad pharaoh ordered to make Washpta’s funeral taking all the expense himself.
     I need to tell that Egyptian doctors were very honest with their patients. The patient was informed one of the three definitions, characterizing doctor’s opinion about the illness: 1. The illness which I shall start curing. 2. The illness I shall start fighting with. 3. Incurable illness.
     The greatest interest attract the illustrations of the surgical instruments from the temple Kom-Ombo. Little scoops, scalpels, very much alike modern ones, toothed knives, something very resemble scissors, a prickly oval subject, a scraper most likely. And an enigmatic subject in the shape of cylinder( but the only one) with three lines on one side. In general a big set of various instruments which had once formed the Egyptian surgeon’s ammunition. With the help of these sawing and cutting matters Egyptian doctors carried out rather complicated surgical operations. The investigations of the sculls of that time has shown that they have signs of operations dealing with pus sucking in case of periostitis. Egyptian dentists practiced dentures, they fixed unsteady teeth with golden wire.
     Good knowledge of human body’s structure and peculiar features of organism were, definitely, connected with mummification crafts, which were an essential part of preparing to the life after death. Besides there were three ways of embalming: the most expensive for famous Egyptians, a cheaper one for the middle class, and the cheapest for ordinary ones. Here are Herodotus’s words about embalming:” Firstly brains are extracted through the nostrils with the help of an iron hook. But only a part of brain is extracted and the rest part is eliminated with the help of solvent injection. Then they make a cut in the groin with an Ethiopian stone and clean the belly from inner parts. After it they wash the belly with palm wine and then clean it again with aromas grinded to powder. And finally fill the belly with clear grinded myrrh ( Arabian myrtle pitch), wild cinnamon and other aromas except frankincense and sew it up again. Then the body is put into sodium leach for the period of 70 days .But one shouldn’t keep the body in the leach for more than that period. After that 70-day term the body is washed and is winded with a bandage made of cut viscose linen and then they smear it with gum ( it is used instead of glue). After that the relatives take the body back , prepare a wooden sarcophagus in the shape of the man’s body and insert the deceased into it. Having done it, the body was kept in a family tomb, where the coffin was placed vertically at the wall.
     This is the way rich people use to embalm their deceased. If the relatives are forced to use the second way of embalming, because of the expenses, they are offered the following. With the help of a washing pipe, cedar oil is injected into the belly of the deceased without cutting the groin and extracting guts. The oil is injected through anus and is corked there, to prevent oil from flowing out and then the body is placed into Na alkaline solution for a certain period of time. On the last day the oil is let out. The oil acts so seriously that dissolves stomach and the guts which flow out together with it. Sodium leach decomposes meat so much that the deceased man becomes skin and bones. Then the body is given back to the relatives and nothing is done with it.
     The third way of embalming, with which poor people are embalmed is the following. Radish juice is poured into the belly and then the body is put into sodium leach for 70 days. Then the body is returned to the relatives”.
     Egyptian mummies…Here is golden-haired Ramses II , here is the pharaoh of Mernept… And here is a Roman girl who died in Egypt. After embalming her body was covered with the thinnest leaves of gold. What thoughts, feelings were hidden behind that cover frozen for ever? What was their spiritual world like?
     As the legend say at the beginning of Egyptian medicine there was a greatest scientist Hermes Trismegist, a man-god. One of his books which was bequeathed to people was named “Tote’s Sacred Book”. Tot is the god of wisdom, count and writing. Later the Greeks identified him with Hermes himself. “Tote’s Sacred Book” contained the secrets of Life and Death, and as the legend says was carefully kept in the golden box in the inner sanctuary of the temple. The devoted ones hid the book at the times of the greatest disturbances and social shocks and since then it has been given by them from one hands into another throughout millennia. Only that one who is prepared with his inner part for taking the Truth is able to open this precious manuscript for himself. Most of the philosophical doctrines (excluding the materialistic one) confirm that physical body of the human is only a little part of something greater, and that greater is the true part of a man inseparably connected with God and with the world created by him – the Space. Modern medicine nowadays in generally ignores this complicated liaison and very often cures only the visible manifestations. Meanwhile “ Illness is an unnatural condition which results from disagreement between the parts of the body. It’s impossible to restore health while harmony is broken. Hermetic medicine has its merits in comprehending that the reasons of the physical illness are in spiritual and psycho-physical misbalances. The proper therapy was widely spread with priests- the doctors of antiquity.” (Manly P. Hall)
     So the way to the health lies in the harmony of body and soul, man and the environment. This simple truth is many thousand years old. I am far from the thought that Pharaoh’s Cylinders are able to replace the titanic work of the soul on its way to the unification of the person with the rest of the world. “love neighbour as yourself – this high condition of the spirit cannot be reached in a moment. And moreover it can’t be modeled with a device. But when one gets up from the bed after the serous illness or the break he needs a stick to ease the walk. It seems to me that the Cylinders play the role of this stick on the way to body and soul recovering. In the opinion of the PhD, MD M.A.Blank, Pharaoh’s Cylinders help the organism to struggle its problems , harmonizing the general condition of the person.
     It would be very useful to answer the question whether the cylinders prolong life? In general any medicine does it in some extent, for if you don’t cure you’ll leave this world sooner. It’s worth turning to the history of ruling dynasties of Ancient Egypt. The dates of their life and death as well as the time of ruling of the greatest sovereign are very vague . Moreover some of them were killed or poisoned probably. The average life time of simple Egyptians was very insignificant. To estimate it conservatively it was less than thirty years. But among pharaohs there were real long-livers. Piopy II(Neferkara) bears the palm undoubtly. His one hundred years of ruling knows no rivals in the world history. Piopy II spent 94 years on the throne and died at about 2250 B.C. Ramses II the Great had sat on the throne for 67 years. He lived up to extreme old age and was a remarkable person in every respect. Athletic, tall for that time –183 cm , he lived through 12 out of 120 of his sons ( he had 187 children) And had 42 wives and concubines.
     Tutmos III and Psammetih I ruled 54 years, Mentuhotep I and Sheshonk III-51 years, Psusennes I-50 years, In( io)tef II-49 years, Amenemhet III-47 years, Yahmes (Amasis) II-44 years.
     These are only the ruling periods. Actually they lived longer. The unified action of the hermetic knowledge and exclusive living conditions provided them with all the possibilities for long-standing if compared with ordinary people.
     “So – called new discoveries of the modern science are often re-discoveries of that what had already been done and known to the priests and philosophers of the ancient pagan world. Inhuman attitude of people to each other resulted with the loss of knowledge and formulas which ,in case they had been kept, could have solved dozens of problems of our civilization. Races and peoples put the inheritance of their predecessors to the sword and then inevitably met the necessity of that particular wisdom, which they had eliminated themselves”. (Manly P. Hall)