Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2600 B.C.: Egyptian medicine evolves over time

No one knows for certain when the Egyptian priesthood became adept in medicine. While it's easy to speculate it began with one god talking with one priest in one moment in time, chances are this was not how knowledge was learned.  Common sense dictates that it was as slowly growing process that took many years to perfect.

There was a time before medicine in ancient Egypt, and it involved laying sick people out in the streets before their houses. People who passed by who recognized the symptoms and had previous experience with healing them were expected to offer their advice. This ultimately evolved so that certain people began to specialize in the healing art.  (13, page 2)

Renouard said that the earliest recorded evidence of physicians in Egypt came in the Bible when Jacob, the father of Joseph, died.  According to Genesis (Genesis 50: 2-3):
"Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming.
Renouard said this event occurred 1,700 years before the birth of Christ,  and is the "most ancient, authentic monument that we possess of the Healing Art."  He further explained that "it is certain, that before the time of the emigration of the sons of Jacob to Egypt, the arts and sciences had already attained, in that country, a degree of perfection which could only be the result of long experience, that required very many years or rather centuries of observation."  (4, page 26)

What is known is that Egypt "rejoiced in a very advanced state of civilization" long before Joseph called the Egyptian priests/ physicians to embalm his father," said Renouard. "Agriculture, Geometry, Architecture, Metallurgy had all then made a remarkable progress. Thebes, the city of a hundred gates, existed as well as some of those gigantic edifices, destined to transmit to posterity, the evidence of the power and wisdom of the Pharaohs. " (4, page 27)

The truth to how all this wisdom was obtained remains a mystery. And all the ancient people, priests perhaps, who had the ability to collect all the records of humanity at that time "embellished them with fiction, which renders the truth more and more uncertain," said Renouard. (4, page 27)

He said:
"But it must be said, for their justification, that these first chroniclers had especially in view, the inculcation to man of the principles of sociability, morality, and religion, and that their marvelous, or allegorical recitals attained much more directly the end they aimed at, than if they had stated the naked truth. It is for this reason, doubtless, that instead of seeking, laboriously, the primitive source of the arts and sciences, on the earth, they placed it in the heavens, and that they attributed to their gods, or to men they deified, all great discoveries. On this account, therefore, the cradle of Medicine, as well as all the arts of first necessity, is surrounded with fables and allegories."
Regardless of how this wisdom came down through time, a specialty of priests became the scribes, and they were among the wisest and most revered priests in all of Egypt. And regardless of where their wisdom came from, they were taught that it came from Thoth, the secretary of the gods, the inventor of all arts and sciences.

References:  See, "2600 B.C.: Hermetic Books allow medicine to flourish in Egypt."

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