Clinical anatomy as practiced by ancient Egyptians

Marios Loukas, Michael Hanna, Nada Alsaiegh, Mohammadali Mohajel Shoja, R. Shane Tubbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Egypt is famously known for its Nile and pyramids, yet not many people know that Egypt made possible the origin of the anatomical sciences. Several ancient papyri guide us through the Egyptians' exploration of the human body and how they applied anatomical knowledge to clinical medicine to the best of their knowledge. It is through records, such as the Edwin Smith, Ebers, and Kahun papyri and other literature detailing the work of the Egyptian embalmers, physicians, and Greek anatomists, that we are able to take a glimpse into the evolution of the anatomical sciences from 3000 B.C. to 250 B.C. It is through the Egyptian embalmer that we were able to learn of some of the first interactions with human organs and their detailed observation. The Egyptian physician's knowledge, being transcribed into the Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri, enabled future physicians to seek reference to common ailments for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions ranging from head injuries to procedures, such as trans-sphenoidal surgery. In Alexandria, Herophilus, and Erasistratus made substantial contributions to the anatomical sciences by beginning the practice of human dissection. For instance, Herophilus described the anatomy of the heart valves along with Erasistratus who demonstrated how blood was prevented from flowing retrograde under normal conditions. Hence, from various records, we are able to unravel how Egypt paved the road for study of the anatomical sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Anatomy
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anatomy
  • ancient Egypt
  • medical papyri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology

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    Loukas, M., Hanna, M., Alsaiegh, N., Mohajel Shoja, M., & Tubbs, R. S. (2011). Clinical anatomy as practiced by ancient Egyptians. Clinical Anatomy, 24(4), 409-415. https://doi.org/10.1002/ca.21155