Compare and contrast Greek and Egyptian medicine

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In 3500Bc Egypt became a united country. Natural boundaries protected it from invasion ie: An Impossible desert in the west and in the south there were many high mountains. This meant that for many centuries Egypt was a peaceful country.

The Egyptians were very successful farmers; their farmland was fed by then nil. They were also skilled sailors. They did begin building an empire by conquering other countries but by about 1500Bc they were overrun and the Egyptian empire was slowly breaking down.

At the same time the Greeks began to spread out from Greece and settles over the eastern Mediterranean. They were skilled fighters , fisherman, farmers and traders. The Greek traded with Egypt and later Alexander the great had extended the Greek empire all the way to the borders of India and China.

In this essay I am going to explain how the Egyptians and Greek society brought change and revolution into the society we live in today. I will show how people’s ways of thinking were changed from supernatural to rational and contrasts between Egyptians and Greek medicine and the similarities.

The Egyptian society was quite advanced compared to previous times.

Egypt was a wealthy country with powerful rulers, international trade, large cities, writing and a very advanced civilisation at the time.

Their wealth was based upon the river nile, which flooded every year covering the surrounding land with rich, fertile soil which produced good crops. Because farming became so successful landowners soon became rich.

Egypt’s wealth led to various improvements in medicine.

Trade also affected the growth of their wealth and knowledge. Egypt had widespread trade links. Ships and merchants would arrive from India and Chine and parts of Africa. They would bring new plants and herbs with them. Many of these herbs and plants recommended as medicines to Egyptian healers built up a wide knowledge of herbal medicines.

Because of the Egyptians wealth specialist craftsmen would be employed such as metal workers to make tools or jewellery.

Writing also helped the development of the society; they used papyrus and a simple, quicker form of writing, which made writing easier and more convenient than before. This meant that treatments and remedies could be written down and passed on accurately to other healers.

Building skills were used to make massive pyramids to house their dead rulers; they were able to construct complicated passages and chambers within these pyramids.

And because such building would need a lot of specialist skills this meant that people could make a job from it and built houses for others.

Their technology was pretty good, they were able to make tools and fine instruments from bronze for doctors and surgeons,

In all their living standards and society were good, they were able to farm, build, trade, write and also have time to sit and relax and take care of their health.

The Egyptians didn’t really know much about the body because when someone died the body was embalmed. The vital organs were taken out and the body was preserved with spices. They learned a little about the anatomy of but embalming was carried out quickly because of religious reasons and the heat.

Egyptians also believed that the body was needed in the after life so dissection of the body was forbidden.

They had a rational explanation for disease, which was that there were over 40 channels for the heart to every part of the body. They thought that illness was caused when these channels got blocked. For example they thought undigested food rotting in the bowel caused disease.

Doctors believed that by making a patient sick it would clear the blockage. Laxatives were used to clear the lower end of the body and bleeding was also used. The doctor would cut open a vein to clear the blood channels. Herbs were also used and often, these herbs halped to unblock the channels.

They Egyptians also had supernatural beliefs in medicine. They believed that illnesses were caused by evil spirits entering the body and in Gods and Goddess’ such as Sekhmet, the Goddess of war; they believed she also caused and cured illnesses and that some of her priests were doctors.

There was also a God walled Imhotep who was the Pharaohs head doctor who was later worshipped at the Egyptian God of healing.

When it came to treating illnesses the Egyptians had two different ways of doing it, this would depend on whether they thought the illness was caused by natural or supernatural causes. The Egyptians made medicines from minerals, animals and plants such as garlic, figs and coriander. These medicines would be cooked and mixed with wine, water or beer and sometimes sweetened. The doctor would often give the medicine to the patient and say a spell; it was thought that together the medicine and the spell drove evil spirits away from the patient.

Doctors may have carried out minor surgical operations but probably not major ones. They would set dislocated arms and legs and broken bones. They would cut away small cysts and tumours and used willow tree bark to bind up wounds. Willow is also a kind of antiseptic, which probably helped to stop wounds from getting infected, which meant people probably recovered from the minor operations.

The Greek society was similar to the Egyptian society was similar to the Egyptians society. They were also successful farmers and traders which like it did for the Egyptians brought wealth to the country. Trade meant that the Greeks could explore more countries and gather more knowledge on their ways of life and medicine. Greek people were very rich and powerful and because of this many people had a lot of time to enjoy themselves and think about things and had buildings such as libraries, schools, universities and other public buildings. Their technology was quite advanced; they had tools for building, farming, fishing, sailing, fighting (armour) and cleanliness (sewage system).

Cleanliness was also important in Greek society and many doctors would advise patients on ways to maintain good health and keep clean.

The Greeks developed a theory for illness known as the four humours. This would consist of the four humours. They believed that when people got sick it meant that one of the four humours was out of balance and this would depend on the season.

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