Section of the Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus

Section of the Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus

license: public domain
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Jeff Dahl

An aged papyrus document bears lines of text in ancient Egyptian hieratic script. The lines are split into two columns, with some portions of the text written in red ink, contrasting the black ink of the rest.


Artifact: c. 1600 BC

Photo: unknown


The Edwin Smith Papyrus, pictured here, is among the oldest discovered medical texts. It goes into great detail on surgical procedures and wound treatment for many kinds of physical trauma. This papyrus document appears to be a copy of an even older script, as it ends in the middle of a line without explanation and uses language and grammar older than the period to which the text is dated.

The two sections pictured, Recto Column 6 and 7, detail facial wound treatment.

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Ancient Egyptian Medicine


Nunn, J. F. (2002). Ancient Egyptian medicine. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Halioua, B., & Ziskind, B. (2005). Medicine in the days of the pharaohs. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Allen, J. P. (2005). The art of medicine in ancient Egypt. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.