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Minds Behind the BrainA history of the pioneers and their discoveries$
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Stanley Finger

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181821.001.0001

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An Ancient Egyptian Physician: The Dawn of Neurology

An Ancient Egyptian Physician: The Dawn of Neurology

(p.7) 2 An Ancient Egyptian Physician: The Dawn of Neurology
Minds Behind the Brain

Stanley Finger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

During the Third Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, there lived a high priest named Imhotep, whose name was surrounded by myths, legends, and a large healing cult. Nevertheless, the earliest known document in the field of medicine, a papyrus known as the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, can trace its roots to the Third Dynasty. Although this papyrus was written approximately one thousand years after Imhotep's death, the cases described in it are believed to have taken place during King Djoser's reign. The papyrus is filled with descriptions of injuries that can be associated with large-scale building projects, such as those Imhotep oversaw in his role as an architect. This chapter traces the history of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus and looks at the contributors to the papyrus, its description of the brain, the Egyptians' view of the heart and its channels and their belief in the role of demons in disease, the Ebers Papyrus, and what happens to the brain after death according to the Egyptians.

Keywords:   Imhotep, Egypt, brain, heart, death, demons, Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, Ebers Papyrus, injuries, disease

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