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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, January 05, 2014

veterinary medicine, 1825 BC

What was it like to be a vet in ancient Egypt?  We actually do have a small glimpse of that life, thanks to a find the great Egyptologist Flinders Petrie made in 1889.  This was a collection of text fragments called the Kahun Papyri, and while they contain information on a number of subjects ranging from mathematics to a list of festivals, a section contains a handful of procedures for treating animals' diseased eyes.  You can imagine what a trick it is to translate from such an old language, but you might be interested in Petrie's literal translation of how to doctor a sick bull (numbers in parentheses are from Petrie's text for translation notes):
(34) TITLE: Treatment for the eyes (?) of a bull with wind (cold ?).
(35) If I see [a bull with] (36) wind, he is with his eyes running, (37) his forehead? uden (wrinkled?) the roots (gums?) (38) of his teeth red, his neck (39) swollen (or raised ?) : repeat the incantation for him. Let him be laid on his side (lit. his one side), (40) let him be sprinkled with cold water, (41) let his eyes and his hoofs (f) (42) and all his body he rubbed with gourds (i) (43) or melons, let him be (44) fumigated (? k;p ?) with gourds .......... .. (45) wait herdsman .......... .. (46) be soaked .......... .. (47) that it draws in soaking......... until (48) it dissolves into water: let him be rubbed with (49) gourds of cucumbers. Thou shalt gash (F) (50) him upon his nose and his tail, thou shalt say (51) as to it, “ he that has a out either dies (52) with it or lives (53) with it.” If he does not recover and he is wrinkled (l) (54) under thy fingers, and blinks (P) his eyes, thou shalt bandage (55) his eyes with linen lighted (56) with fire to stop the running.
So, rub him with cucumbers and gourds, and possibly bleed him from the nose and tail to let evil humors out. Interesting, and hopefully of some comfort somewhere to the bull. From William Matthew Flinders Petrie, and Francis Llewellyn Griffith, Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob: (principally of the Middle Kingdom), B. Quaritch, 1898, p. 13.

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