Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus

by Vincent on March 5, 2011

Though not really a game, America’s National Library of Medicine has provided an interactive online presentation of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus that is fun to explore.

The Edwin Smith Surgical papyrus dates to Dynasties 16-17 of the Second Intermediate Period, about 1600 BC, though it is believed to be a copy of another papyrus dating from around 3000 BC.  The Edwin Smith Papyrus is 4.68 m in length and divided into 17 sections. It is written in the cursive form of hieroglyphs known as hieratic, in black and red ink. There are 48 cases of injury and each case describes the injury, examination of the patient, diagnosis and prognosis, and treatment. There are also magic spells and prescription, which are exceptions to the otherwise practical nature of this medical text.

Apparently intended as a textbook on surgery, it begins with clinical cases of head injuries and works systematically down the body, describing in detail examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis in each case. It reveals the ancient Egyptians’ knowledge of the relation of the pulse to the heart and of the workings of the stomach, bowels, and larger blood vessels. The papyrus was acquired in Luxor in 1862 by the American Edwin Smith, a pioneer in the study of Egyptian science. Upon his death in 1906, the papyrus was given to the New York Historical Society and turned over to U.S. Egyptologist James Henry Breasted in 1920 for study. A translation, transliteration, and discussion in two volumes was published by Breasted in 1930. 

–  Encyclopedia Britannica.

You can zoom in on the papyrus for a closer look using the Eye of Horus icon and moving the mouse over the text.

Using the reed icon and clicking on the papyrus will provide a translation and explanation of the text.

If you don’t have Macromedia Flash MX installed you will be prompted to download and install it first before viewing the papyrus.

Read the interactive Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus

If you are interested in reading papyri you can find more in the Pyramid Texts Online Library

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