Ancient Egyptian Bodies: Medicine, Surgery and Magic -Dr Serena Love
Dr Serena Love from the University of Queensland presented a fascinating lecture as part of the Queensland Museum's Science Week activities. Her lecture, titled: Ancient Egyptian Bodies: Medicine, Surgery and Magic, was a sell out!
Dr Love presented a vast range of primary source material to show the relationship between magic and medicine: the things that could be treated and the things that could not be treated! It was fascinating to see how advanced the Egyptians were in their treatments. There is evidence of a steel screw in a knee (Usermontu mummy 1600-1100BC) and the use of artificial limbs to replace amputated ones (Manchester Mummy Project) . In terms of topical treatments; honey, frankincense and myrrh topped the list. There is even a suggestion of opium coming through the trade links from Afghanistan!
Of particular interest to me, as I teach a unit about Akhenaten, was the skeletal evidence from the graces of Amarna. A high proportion of the population appears to have been stabbed in the back - as a form of punishment or control? Researchers are unsure, but certainly there would have been some unrest amongst the population as a result of the move to Amarna. This is something I will follow up as part of my unit preparation.
Finally, Dr love revealed evidence of the role of women in the profession of medicine. Merit-Ptah (2700BC) and Pesehet (2500BC) were both considered physicians in their own right and practiced medicine at the highest levels. This discussion segued into a boarder discussion about gynecological issues and child-birth (refer to the image posted on the maon blog page - from Kom Ombo Temple)
The lecture was a fantastic journey into an area of ancient Egyptian culture that I knew little about. I was excited about new information and how I could bring it back to the classroom for my students to dissect (pardon the pun!)