Ancient Egyptian and Greek Medicine, a Comparison.

Authors Avatar

Samantha Canvin 10DA                History

Ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine, a comparison.


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.


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. So money plays a large part in the progress of medicine.

  The rich could afford to employ metal workers, to make jewellery and tools. These craftsmen could also make bronze instruments for doctors and physicians, much better than any tools before. The rich Greeks could also do this, but, the invention of iron and steel meant that the Greeks could do more with their tools as they were stronger. This must have helped the progression of practical medicine.

Although the rich in both Egypt and Greece had doctors and were generally in good health (more so in Greece than Egypt). Both empires also had those that had virtually no medical care. Slaves, that were part of each civilisation, were on the most part in very poor health. Doctors wouldn’t treat them because they couldn’t pay, and normally they couldn’t seek out other knowledgeable people because their movement was restricted. Slaves are an extreme example, the point being that even though the rich in both countries were getting healthier, in Egypt, the general population didn’t benefit because they couldn’t afford the treatment, this got only marginally better with the Greeks.


Both empires were affected by war. Doctors would join, becoming army physicians or surgeons and gaining practical field knowledge. Battles were places for trying theories and treatments, many procedures must have been invented, innovated or perfected there. One being amputation. A mixture of better tools due to the invention of iron/steel and trial and error meant the Greeks could amputate limbs with even the smallest chance of survival, where it was almost totally unknown for someone to survive an amputation, purposeful or not.

Join now!


Specialist male doctors, priests and mothers/wives were all healers in both Egypt and Greece. Mothers/wives would take care of the day-to-day health of the family, the doctors charged high amounts to treat people. And the priests offered religious or supernatural treatments.

  The Egyptians though had female doctors, like Pesehet, 2649-2150BC ‘Lady Overseer of Lady Physicians’. The Greeks didn’t have female doctors, saying; “No slave or woman should learn the science of medicine.” This was regression, because half the population was excluded from the advance of medicine.


Religion was both good and bad ...

This is a preview of the whole essay