Ancient Egyptian and Greek Medicine, a Comparison.
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Ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine, a comparison. Introduction In this essay, we shall be comparing the progress of medicine in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. We will explore the different factors contributing to the medical development of each civilisation and how they formed the basis for modern medical practice. Economy Egypt and Greece were agricultural empires. Egypt was one of the first to settle and farm the Nile. Good harvests from the rich silt meant that Egypt had enough food to trade with other Empires, like India, China, Arabia, Africa and around the Mediterranean. Trade (along with bringing back great wealth) brought back new ideas, among which were new herbs and treatments. Similarly, Greece was a trading nation, leading to communication in and between nations. Communication was vital for the progress of medicine because it allowed ideas to be shared between many different countries. The Egyptians were so successful with farming and trade that the land owners became very wealthy. Likewise, the Greeks had a wealthy upper class. This new class could afford to pay for health care by doctors, who were paid a great deal for their knowledge. They spent their lives trying to further their understanding of medicine, probably because the better they were, the more they got paid.
This was a big step forward compared to prehistoric times, as this was a natural cause for disease, not spiritual. In a similar way, the Greeks were keen observers of nature and had a natural cause for disease. They believed in the 4 humours which were; phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile. They believed if these humours remained balanced then the person would be healthy. But if the humours became unbalanced then the person would become ill. Along with the Theory of the 4 humours, came a belief in good diet, exercise and rest when ill, with the belief that this would keep the humours in balance. This tied in perfectly with the Greeks other observations: The 4 elements of earth, fire, air and water. The 4 seasons of autumn, summer, spring and winter. If you had a cold, then you had too much phlegm, phlegm watery and colds often occurred in winter. This seemed to be too much of a coincidence for the Greeks. Elements Qualities Season Humour Illness/Symptoms Water Cold and moist Winter Phlegm Sneezing/colds Air Hot and moist Spring Blood Dysentery/nose bleeds Fire Hot and dry Summer Yellow bile Fevers, vomiting, yellow skin Earth Cold and dry Autumn Black bile Dry skin, vomiting The Greeks went to Alexandria to dissect human cadavers, this led to discovering for the first time that the brain controlled the body, this was very important as now the brain could be given the attention it needed in medicine.
He encouraged people to look for natural explanations for illness and other things, rather than religious ones and he championed the use of observing and recording symptoms with patients to aid diagnosis and prognosis. Ultimately his influence was to affect the way medicine was practised for thousands of years to come - up to the present day. Conclusion Overall the Greeks made more medical progress than the Egyptians. When you compare different aspects of medicine between the two civilisations they each have made more progress than the other in certain areas. The Egyptians made greater progress in the role of healers (specifically women), and with technology, and the Greeks made greater progress in their economy, theories, treatments and the way religion affected medicine advancement. The Egyptians were the first to begin medical theorising because they were the first major, organised, civilisation. They revolutionised prehistoric medical thinking and provided a basis for future medical progress. They began with very poor medical knowledge and ended with relatively effective treatments. The Greeks began with some of the Egyptian knowledge and developed some very important theories which led to better treatment and upon which the basis of modern scientific thinking was built. Perhaps if they hadn't excluded women from medical practice, their progress would have been even greater. ?? ?? ?? ?? Samantha Canvin 10DA History 1 1
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