Researchers find roots of medicine in Egypt

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Scientists examining documents dating back 3,500 years say they have found proof that the origins of modern medicine lie in ancient Egypt and not with Hippocrates and the Greeks.

The research team from the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at The University of Manchester discovered the evidence in medical papyri written in 1,500BC -- 1,000 years before Hippocrates was born. "Classical scholars have always considered the ancient Greeks, particularly Hippocrates, as being the fathers of medicine but our findings suggest that the ancient Egyptians were practising a credible form of pharmacy and medicine much earlier," said Dr Jackie Campbell.

"When we compared the ancient remedies against modern pharmaceutical protocols and standards, we found the prescriptions in the ancient documents not only compared with pharmaceutical preparations of today but that many of the remedies had therapeutic merit."

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Jonathan Dresner - 5/13/2007

We've known about Egyptian surgical and pharmacological knowledge for years -- it's in the textbooks I use, which means that it can't possibly be new material -- and like most premodern medical regimes it's got some effective trial-and-error techniques and some dumb, pseudo-magical thinking which probably killed a lot of patients.