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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

194                              Medicine
the treatment of the two cases differed in its nature accordingly.
The medical and the magical marched side by side and the same
age produced both the Edwin Smith and the Ebers Papyri with
their widely differing contents. Indeed, in the Edwin Smith
Papyrus there is an incantation in the body of the surgical text
itself, and on the back of it there is written a collection of charms
and prescriptions similar to those that fill page after page of
the other so-called medical papyri. The ancient owner of the
Edwin Smith Papyrus saw no incongruity in copying into the
same note-book elements that appear to us of to-day as abso-
lutely antagonistic in nature and content. One might imagine, as
a parallel, a modern medical student taking simultaneously and
equally seriously the utterances of John Hunter and of Culpeper.
 vii. Materia Medica
The same difficulty confronts us when dealing with the drugs
as has already been mentioned in connexion with the maladies,
namely our inability to identify many of them. Some hundreds
of ingredients are mentioned in the prescriptions, and they
were derived from the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral
kingdoms. Most of the animals can be determined: usually their
fat or blood is employed, but if small enough, the whole animal
is often used. Thus we find the fat of the ox, ass, lion, hippo-
potamus, mouse, bat, lizard, snake, and others used, also the
blood of these and other animals, as well as many birds and
invertebrates. Hartshorn, tortoise-shell, and calcined horns,
hides, bones, and hoofs are likewise employed. In the case of
vegetables we are unable to identify with certainty more than
a relatively small proportion of the very large number whose
names abound in the prescriptions. We find the whole plant, or
its leaves, fruit, seed, juice, pith, or root employed as drugs.
The vehicles for liquid doses are usually water, mili, honey,
wine, or beer. For emollients and ointments the basis is honey
or fats of various kinds, goose-grease being specially frequent.