Was Ancient Egypt Scientific or Supernatural in its medical beliefs and practices?

Authors Avatar

Was Ancient Egypt Scientific or Supernatural in its medical beliefs and practices?

Ancient Egypt as a united country was formed in 3500BC and even though this was thousands of years ago the Egyptians had a developed system of treating illness. There are several reasons why it may be considered that Ancient Egyptian medical practices and beliefs are both based on science and the supernatural. In this essay I aim to discuss and assess both the supernatural and scientific beliefs that the Ancient Egyptians held, and also conclude with my personal opinion on Ancient Egyptians rationality with regards to Medicine.

The term “Scientific Practice” can be defined as “Any practice based on or characterized by the methods and principles of science.” Due to advances in writing the Egyptian’s were able to write on papyrus (an early form of paper) and so were able to record medical ideas and theories. This allowed Egyptian Medicine to scientifically advance as the details of illnesses and treatments were able to be recorded and stored for further use. Due to the religious ritual of embalmment (removing vital organs such as heart and brain for afterlife preservation) the Ancient Egyptians had a basic comprehension of the location of the body’s major organs but knew very little about their functions as they believed organs shouldn’t be dissected. The Ancient Egyptians also knew of the blood and the pulse and believed that blood flowed through the body through 40 channels which also carried air and water. If these channels were blocked, it was believed that illness was caused. Illness was thought to be caused by bad gases created by food rotting in the bowel entering the channels and blocking them. This is a scientific theory as it’s based upon the Egyptian’s knowledge of the body making the theory rational and pragmatic. Lastly, Egyptian’s used to use fishing nets over their beds at night to prevent mosquito bites and malaria, showing that they had linked disease to bites from insects. This was also based upon factual evidence, making it a scientific theory.

Join now!

Supernatural practices can be defined as “Any practice attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.” Many of the beliefs with regards to Medicine that the Ancient Egyptians held could be viewed as supernatural, irrational and logic defying. Firstly, there was a belief in Ancient Egypt that charms and amulets could be worn to ward off evil spirits. This view was also evidence of continuity from prehistory and can be viewed as supernatural as the existence of spirits isn’t supported by any scientific theory or evidence. The Ancient Egyptians believed that Sekhmet, the goddess of war, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay