The earliest medical texts

Clio Med. 1985-1986;20(1-4):79-90.


The first civilization known to have had an extensive study of medicine and to leave written records of its practices and procedures was that of ancient Egypt. The oldest extant Egyptian medical texts are six papyri from the period between 2000 B.C. and 1500 B.C.: the Kahun Medical Papyrus, the Ramesseum IV and Ramesseum V Papyri, the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, The Ebers Medical Papyrus and the Hearst Medical Papyrus. These texts, most of them based on older texts dating possibly from 3000 B.C., are comparatively free of the magician's approach to treating illness. Egyptian medicine influenced the medicine of neighboring cultures, including the culture of ancient Greece. From Greece, its influence spread onward, thereby affecting Western civilization significantly.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Books / history*
  • Education, Medical / history*
  • Egypt, Ancient
  • History, Ancient
  • Textbooks as Topic / history*