How much progress did the Egyptians make in Medicine?

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How much progress did the Egyptians make in Medicine?  Helen Stanford

Some people feel that the Egyptians made considerable progress in medicine because of the way they could examine parts of the body during the mummification process.  This allowed them to find out information about how the body worked.  By removing the organs, they knew where they were located inside the body and what they were attached to.  The Egyptians discovered that the body could be preserved in many things, including salts, oils, and bitumen.  Before electricity was discovered and fridges were made, people used salt to preserve food that needed to be kept cold, so we still use the Egyptian’s technique thousands of years later.

Other people think the Egyptians didn’t make such great advances because of their theory about the river Nile and how it worked in conjunction to the human body.  The Egyptians believed that the body was full of channels, just like the Nile was.  If an irrigation channel was blocked on the Nile, the water would not flow into the fields – a disaster for Egyptians because they inhabited the area surrounding the Nile because of the fertile land it offered.  The Egyptians believed the same thing happened with the human body – that the blockage of the vessels lead to the person becoming ill.  Vomiting was encouraged in some patients, as it was thought to clear blockages from the body.  

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They also had a limited understanding of the way in which the organs worked, because they could not see them functioning, as the person was dead when mummification took place.  Mummification had to be done quickly for religious reasons and because of the heat in Egypt, which would allow the body to decompose faster.  The body was also thought to be needed for the afterlife, so could not be dissected and studied.

The Egyptians improved many of their remedies and treatments by trial and error, instead of actual knowledge of the body.  They would note down their findings and these ...

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