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Document Details :
Title: The Science and the Medicine of the Ancient Egyptians
Subtitle: A Synopsis
Author(s): DEPUYDT, Leo
Journal: Bibliotheca Orientalis
Volume: 74 Issue: 5-6 Date: 2017
This is a survey of the science and medicine of the ancient Egyptians in light of the primary sources. Only fields of learning represented in some kind of systematic way in the primary sources are deemed worthy of mention. In that regard, it seemed inappropriate to discuss the zoology, the botany, the chemistry, the architecture, etc., etc., of the ancient Egyptians. No doubt the Egyptians had some notion of the types of knowledge on which these subjects focus. But no systematic treatment of any of the subjects survives in the extant sources and none probably ever existed. In fact, even the few domains treated in the present survey are for the most part not quite scientific but rather prescientific. Then again, the prescientific is a necessary and organic step on the road to science and therefore an indispensable part of a comprehensive history of science. The present survey was originally commissioned — and completed — ten to fifteen years ago for a planned Oxford Handbook of Egyptology. It would have been a good place for this text. But plans for publication unfortunately did not materialize and publication did not seem forthcoming. When the go-ahead finally happily came about a few weeks ago, the present text had just been rerouted to its present location in the spring of 2017. The text below still reflects the state of affairs of early 2017. Meanwhile, the author is happy to be able to put his own comprehensive spin on a subject that has occupied him off and on over the past three decades or so in teaching and writing.