How Well Was The Medicine In The Ancient History?

Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#31
What knowledge of the nervous system did you have in mind? There is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians had a modern understanding of the nervous system or that the brain was the seat of thought.
"Alcmaeon argued that the brain is the seat of intelligence, connected to the extremities of the body by poroi. "
"Praxagoras suggested that the brain controls movement in the body, and posed the existence of neurons responsible for sending brain signals through the body. "
"Herophilus used dissection to demonstrate the existence of a nervous systemdistinct from the vascular system, discovered nerves connected to inner organs and muscles, and distinguished between sensory and motor nerves. "
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967586816000187


Despite the Egyptian''s thousands of years of medical experience, they never came up with an accurate description of the circulation of blood, for example.
--True. I never said they discovered EVERYTHING.

I don't see any evidence that the Islamic world "resurrected" ancient Egyptian medical scrolls. The Islamic world starting point was the medical knowledge of the ancient Greeks, not Egypitans, the works of Galen and such. Galen was popular among the Islamic world.
Read anything by Okasha El Daly (I like "The Missing Millenium"). He has multiple lectures on YouTube. Among his accomplishments is translating Arab translations of Greek and Egyptian scientific & medical texts. He claims Arabs translated hieroglyphs 100's of years before Champollion.

What are the sources to back that up the claim that the Egyptians did not have a ban on dissection? Can you provide any ancient text t hat describes the Egyptians performing systematic human dissections, such as those that were done in Renaissance European universities? (If the ancient Egyptians were performing human dissections, it doesn't look like they put the knowledge they gained into practical use, not even to improve their art and make it more natural, like the Renaissance Europeans like Da Vinci did.
"Egypt is famously known for its Nile and pyramids, yet not many people know that Egypt made possible the origin of the anatomical sciences. Several ancient papyri guide us through the Egyptians' exploration of the human body and how they applied anatomical knowledge to clinical medicine to the best of their knowledge. It is through records, such as the Edwin Smith, Ebers, and Kahun papyri and other literature detailing the work of the Egyptian embalmers, physicians, and Greek anatomists, that we are able to take a glimpse into the evolution of the anatomical sciences from 3000 B.C. to 250 B.C. It is through the Egyptian embalmer that we were able to learn of some of the first interactions with human organs and their detailed observation. The Egyptian physician's knowledge, being transcribed into the Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri, enabled future physicians to seek reference to common ailments for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions ranging from head injuries to procedures, such as trans-sphenoidal surgery. In Alexandria, Herophilus, and Erasistratus made substantial contributions to the anatomical sciences by beginning the practice of human dissection. For instance, Herophilus described the anatomy of the heart valves along with Erasistratus who demonstrated how blood was prevented from flowing retrograde under normal conditions. Hence, from various records, we are able to unravel how Egypt paved the road for study of the anatomical sciences. "
Clinical anatomy as practiced by ancient Egyptians. - PubMed - NCBI

Also, Alexandria was a Greek city, founded by Greeks, ruled by Greeks and later Romans, and inhabited by Greeks. While located in Egypt,
There are Greeks and Italians living in the United States. We call them "Americans." The Greeks indeed kept a large part of their culture alive in Alexandria, but it was melded with Egyptian culture. This is particularly demonstrated in the religious aspect where Egyptian deities were combined with Greek ones. The early Ptolemies (kings & queens) raced chariots in the Olympics: can't get more Greek than that. They also built temples to Egyptian gods, participated in religious ceremonies in Thebes and Memphis, and maintained the Egyptian system of governance. Egyptian culture wasn't overrun by the Greeks, they merely added the Greeks as another facet. Greeks didn't mummify their dead: Ptolemies & Alexandrian Greeks did. Egyptians had that "melding" effect on most cultures that interacted with them. Gabinius stationed 2500 Romans in Alexandria to put Cleopatra's dad back on the throne: Caesar was shocked , 7 yrs later, when many of the Romans had married Egyptian women and had children.

Galen and the ancient Egyptians could not have been performing systematic dissections, otherwise his work could not have contained the errors in human anatomy that you find in it.
Galen was educated in Alexandria in the 1st century ACE during the Roman decline and can hardly be used as a good example. He does mention doing dissections in Egypt, and mentions a few in Rome. It was never prohibited in any time during the Roman empire, but Galen was reticent about doing it in Rome. If there was no family, anyone could claim the bodies of executed criminals. Galen may have inaccuracies, but the lack of systemic education at the time made his manuscripts so valuable, they've survived until today. You can still buy copies of Galen on Amazon.

For all the alleged achievements of the ancient Egyptians you claim for them with respect to anatomy, they did not leave detained text and illustrations on human anatomy that the Renaissance Europeans did.
I've never heard about illustrations, but there are texts (see above). According to El Daly, there are many more in translated Arabic.

It is well known that many antibiotics have a natural source. That some people accidentally benefited from such natural antibiotics does not mean these ancient peoples understood the the benefits, it was just a lucky break, is all.
Neither I nor the original mention of Nubian tetracycline said anything about them understanding they had an antibiotic. One can imagine it was on the level of Chinese herbalists: this plant makes you feel better if you have this problem. My recollection is that the tribe(s) in the Nat'l Geo article had no idea they were eating anything special: they just thought they were better/healthier than their neighbors.

Infant mortality was high in pre-modern times, which greatly lowered the average life span. Starting with Western countries (Europe and North America) in the 19th century, infant mortality rates drastically declined.
No argument.

I would say, until the 19th century, medicine had not much improved since ancient times, as infant mortality rates showed. The infant mortality rates world wide were not much better in 1800 than during during ancient Rome or Han dynasty. But as the huge drop in infant mortality rates during the 19th and 20th century shows, medicine has improved immensely since then.
Infant mortality is truly a good example of the advance of medicine .... but total lifespan is a curious measure.
I already mentioned Caesar, Philotas, & Plutarch. Plutarch's grandfather lived at least until his 60's. Rameses II lived to be 90-91.
I know a doctor that did medical studies on the elite of the South Korean military, robust muscle-mag specimens .... who, due to honeypot farming, had the most exotic load of internal parasites he'd ever seen.
--- This is a comment on the babies surviving and growing to maturity having reasonably robust constitutions. A lot of ancient people died in their late 30's, but this is largely attributed to environment .... like hauling around Ahkenaten's standard 110 lb building blocks ("suitable for one man to carry").



This isn't Graham Hancock flying pyramid stuff. Egyptian medical advances (as well as the hard sciences) are well understood by both the historical and medical communities. It took me seconds to find references. Did you think I made it all up? A discussion of Egyptian automatons and mechanical devices might make your head explode. They weren't stupid people, they weren't all geniuses either ... but they had some very, very smart individuals that were given the liberty to just "think" in the Museo & Great Library especially.
 
Last edited:

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#32
"Alcmaeon argued that the brain is the seat of intelligence, connected to the extremities of the body by poroi. "
"Praxagoras suggested that the brain controls movement in the body, and posed the existence of neurons responsible for sending brain signals through the body. "
"Herophilus used dissection to demonstrate the existence of a nervous systemdistinct from the vascular system, discovered nerves connected to inner organs and muscles, and distinguished between sensory and motor nerves. "
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967586816000187
All those names appear to be Greek, not Egyptian. And their ideas don't seem to have become mainstream.

Is there anything to show Egyptians held such ideas? My studies indicate they did not or at least, it was not held by the majority of Egyptians.


Read anything by Okasha El Daly (I like "The Missing Millenium"). He has multiple lectures on YouTube. Among his accomplishments is translating Arab translations of Greek and Egyptian scientific & medical texts. He claims Arabs translated hieroglyphs 100's of years before Champollion.
A Youtuber hardly ranks as a legitimate scholar. There are people on Youtube who also claim that that ancient aliens built the pyramids. Simply because he says it doesn't make it so. Life is too short to spend the time and money wading through the book to find the passages that support what you say. If you can provide a source (text, and page on the text where the information can be found), I might look it up, otherwise referring me to a Youtube isn't providing the references I had asked for.

"Egypt is famously known for its Nile and pyramids, yet not many people know that Egypt made possible the origin of the anatomical sciences. Several ancient papyri guide us through the Egyptians' exploration of the human body and how they applied anatomical knowledge to clinical medicine to the best of their knowledge. It is through records, such as the Edwin Smith, Ebers, and Kahun papyri and other literature detailing the work of the Egyptian embalmers, physicians, and Greek anatomists, that we are able to take a glimpse into the evolution of the anatomical sciences from 3000 B.C. to 250 B.C. It is through the Egyptian embalmer that we were able to learn of some of the first interactions with human organs and their detailed observation. The Egyptian physician's knowledge, being transcribed into the Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri, enabled future physicians to seek reference to common ailments for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions ranging from head injuries to procedures, such as trans-sphenoidal surgery. In Alexandria, Herophilus, and Erasistratus made substantial contributions to the anatomical sciences by beginning the practice of human dissection. For instance, Herophilus described the anatomy of the heart valves along with Erasistratus who demonstrated how blood was prevented from flowing retrograde under normal conditions. Hence, from various records, we are able to unravel how Egypt paved the road for study of the anatomical sciences. "
Clinical anatomy as practiced by ancient Egyptians. - PubMed - NCBI
The name of the text by Herophilus and Erasistratus supposedly said the things claimed is not given. Given me just the name, without the tet they said it in, isn't providing a reference.

There are Greeks and Italians living in the United States. We call them "Americans." The Greeks indeed kept a large part of their culture alive in Alexandria, but it was melded with Egyptian culture.
The Greeks and Italians in the US are speaking English, and have adopted American culture. Many of them put up a Christmas tree and lights, same as other Americans. The citizens of Alexandria did not adopt Egyptian language and culture. Marseille was a Greek city in France, and the city was Greek, despite all the surrounding countryside being Celtic.

This is particularly demonstrated in the religious aspect where Egyptian deities were combined with Greek ones. The early Ptolemies (kings & queens) raced chariots in the Olympics: can't get more Greek than that. They also built temples to Egyptian gods, participated in religious ceremonies in Thebes and Memphis, and maintained the Egyptian system of governance. Egyptian culture wasn't overrun by the Greeks, they merely added the Greeks as another facet. Greeks didn't mummify their dead: Ptolemies & Alexandrian Greeks did. Egyptians had that "melding" effect on most cultures that interacted with them. Gabinius stationed 2500 Romans in Alexandria to put Cleopatra's dad back on the throne: Caesar was shocked , 7 yrs later, when many of the Romans had married Egyptian women and had children.
Many Romans adopted the worship of the Greek goddess Isis, but that didn't make them Egyptian And the Ptolemies like to pretend they were descended from the ancient Pharaohs, but that was just BS and political grandstanding. Cleopatra was practically the only Ptolemy ruler who bothered to learn Egyptian (Coptic), almost all the other Ptolemaic rulers just knew Greek. The Ptolemies were a Greek dynasty, descended from Greeks and Macedonians, and it is debatable if Cleopatra had any actual Egyptian blood in her.

The elites who ran Egypt were Greek, and Alexandria was a Greek city t hat happened just to be located in Egypt, but it was as Greek as other cities, such as Marseille happened to be located in France. While Marseille was Greek, the surrounding countryside remained Celtic.

Galen was educated in Alexandria in the 1st century ACE during the Roman decline and can hardly be used as a good example. He does mention doing dissections in Egypt, and mentions a few in Rome. It was never prohibited in any time during the Roman empire, but Galen was reticent about doing it in Rome.
I asked you for a primary source to back up you claim, a source from the time period, not what a Youtuber said. Can you provide any source that states human dissections were ok? In what ancient text by Galen did he say he performed dissections?

anyone could claim the bodies of executed criminals. Galen may have inaccuracies, but the lack of systemic education at the time made his manuscripts so valuable, they've survived until today. You can still buy copies of Galen on Amazon.
His work would not have become so popular, if there was better knowledge available. The reason Galen became so popular was because he represented the best knowledge available at the time in Egypt and the rest of the Roman world. So far, you haven't provided anything to backup what you say. I don't have to scroll Galen's entire work to find what you claim is there, you need to provide the book of Galen and exactly where he said it.

I've never heard about illustrations, but there are texts (see above). According to El Daly, there are many more in translated Arabic.
Then quote the actual text, and not just give the name of the author, which is not sufficient. El Daly ias not an ancient author. Given me the name of the sources he uses, and where they are found. Has anybody but El Daly seen these alleged Arabic manuscripts?

Neither I nor the original mention of Nubian tetracycline said anything about them understanding they had an antibiotic. One can imagine it was on the level of Chinese herbalists: this plant makes you feel better if you have this problem. My recollection is that the tribe(s) in the Nat'l Geo article had no idea they were eating anything special: they just thought they were better/healthier than their neighbors.
According what you say, the people didn't understand there was any link between the plant and their health, which makes it different from Chinese herbalist. These people just got lucky, is all.



Infant mortality is truly a good example of the advance of medicine .... but total lifespan is a curious measure.
I ...
When people say that in ancient times, the average life span was only 40, they are including the high infant mortality rate, which skews the average way down. Once you get past childhood, the average is more like in the 50's.


This isn't Graham Hancock flying pyramid stuff. Egyptian medical advances (as well as the hard sciences) are well understood by both the historical and medical communities. It took me seconds to find references. Did you think I made it all up? A discussion of Egyptian automatons and mechanical devices might make your head explode. They weren't stupid people, they weren't all geniuses either ... but they had some very, very smart individuals that were given the liberty to just "think" in the Museo & Great Library especially.
Actually, it is getting close. You may not have made it all up, but El Daly may have for all I know. Contrary to what you claim, there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians build automatons and mechanical devices, and the Great Library was not really Egyptian, but essentially Greek. It was located in a Greek speaking city, founded by Greeks, and was run under Greek or Roman rulers. Hero, and others are essentially Greeks, not Egyptians, and were part of a larger Greek world.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#34
All those names appear to be Greek, not Egyptian. And their ideas don't seem to have become mainstream.

Is there anything to show Egyptians held such ideas? My studies indicate they did not or at least, it was not held by the majority of Egyptians.




A Youtuber hardly ranks as a legitimate scholar. There are people on Youtube who also claim that that ancient aliens built the pyramids. Simply because he says it doesn't make it so. Life is too short to spend the time and money wading through the book to find the passages that support what you say. If you can provide a source (text, and page on the text where the information can be found), I might look it up, otherwise referring me to a Youtube isn't providing the references I had asked for.



The name of the text by Herophilus and Erasistratus supposedly said the things claimed is not given. Given me just the name, without the tet they said it in, isn't providing a reference.



The Greeks and Italians in the US are speaking English, and have adopted American culture. Many of them put up a Christmas tree and lights, same as other Americans. The citizens of Alexandria did not adopt Egyptian language and culture. Marseille was a Greek city in France, and the city was Greek, despite all the surrounding countryside being Celtic.



Many Romans adopted the worship of the Greek goddess Isis, but that didn't make them Egyptian And the Ptolemies like to pretend they were descended from the ancient Pharaohs, but that was just BS and political grandstanding. Cleopatra was practically the only Ptolemy ruler who bothered to learn Egyptian (Coptic), almost all the other Ptolemaic rulers just knew Greek. The Ptolemies were a Greek dynasty, descended from Greeks and Macedonians, and it is debatable if Cleopatra had any actual Egyptian blood in her.

The elites who ran Egypt were Greek, and Alexandria was a Greek city t hat happened just to be located in Egypt, but it was as Greek as other cities, such as Marseille happened to be located in France. While Marseille was Greek, the surrounding countryside remained Celtic.



I asked you for a primary source to back up you claim, a source from the time period, not what a Youtuber said. Can you provide any source that states human dissections were ok? In what ancient text by Galen did he say he performed dissections?



His work would not have become so popular, if there was better knowledge available. The reason Galen became so popular was because he represented the best knowledge available at the time in Egypt and the rest of the Roman world. So far, you haven't provided anything to backup what you say. I don't have to scroll Galen's entire work to find what you claim is there, you need to provide the book of Galen and exactly where he said it.



Then quote the actual text, and not just give the name of the author, which is not sufficient. El Daly ias not an ancient author. Given me the name of the sources he uses, and where they are found. Has anybody but El Daly seen these alleged Arabic manuscripts?



According what you say, the people didn't understand there was any link between the plant and their health, which makes it different from Chinese herbalist. These people just got lucky, is all.





When people say that in ancient times, the average life span was only 40, they are including the high infant mortality rate, which skews the average way down. Once you get past childhood, the average is more like in the 50's.




Actually, it is getting close. You may not have made it all up, but El Daly may have for all I know. Contrary to what you claim, there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians build automatons and mechanical devices, and the Great Library was not really Egyptian, but essentially Greek. It was located in a Greek speaking city, founded by Greeks, and was run under Greek or Roman rulers. Hero, and others are essentially Greeks, not Egyptians, and were part of a larger Greek world.
Reading what I wrote, I was a bit critical of the sources you named. Perhaps El Daly is correct in what he says, and I do need to look him up. But he is not an ancient source, and what he said is opinion, not fact. It would be helpful if you name a written work of his and on what page he says the things you said so I don't have go through his entire work and possibly miss it.

Also, on the Greeks you mentioned, it would be helpful if you could name which booka of theirs they said it in, in case you hey have wrtren more than one book.

In the case of Herophilus, we don't have any of his works, only second had quotes. His claim to be be the first to do human dissection seems to rest on Tertullian's alleged claim that he one vivsected 600 live prisoners, which doesn't prove he was the first human anatomist but the first Josef Mengele.

Eratistratus writings also have been lost, and claims for him are based on interpretations of what some people think the second hand sources that quoted him said, not on what Eratistratus actually said. Pretty weak arguments.

You still need to provide ancient sources that show that human dissection was allowed by the ancient Romans
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#35
All those names appear to be Greek, not Egyptian. And their ideas don't seem to have become mainstream.

Is there anything to show Egyptians held such ideas? My studies indicate they did not or at least, it was not held by the majority of Egyptians.




A Youtuber hardly ranks as a legitimate scholar. There are people on Youtube who also claim that that ancient aliens built the pyramids. Simply because he says it doesn't make it so. Life is too short to spend the time and money wading through the book to find the passages that support what you say. If you can provide a source (text, and page on the text where the information can be found), I might look it up, otherwise referring me to a Youtube isn't providing the references I had asked for.



The name of the text by Herophilus and Erasistratus supposedly said the things claimed is not given. Given me just the name, without the tet they said it in, isn't providing a reference.



The Greeks and Italians in the US are speaking English, and have adopted American culture. Many of them put up a Christmas tree and lights, same as other Americans. The citizens of Alexandria did not adopt Egyptian language and culture. Marseille was a Greek city in France, and the city was Greek, despite all the surrounding countryside being Celtic.



Many Romans adopted the worship of the Greek goddess Isis, but that didn't make them Egyptian And the Ptolemies like to pretend they were descended from the ancient Pharaohs, but that was just BS and political grandstanding. Cleopatra was practically the only Ptolemy ruler who bothered to learn Egyptian (Coptic), almost all the other Ptolemaic rulers just knew Greek. The Ptolemies were a Greek dynasty, descended from Greeks and Macedonians, and it is debatable if Cleopatra had any actual Egyptian blood in her.

The elites who ran Egypt were Greek, and Alexandria was a Greek city t hat happened just to be located in Egypt, but it was as Greek as other cities, such as Marseille happened to be located in France. While Marseille was Greek, the surrounding countryside remained Celtic.



I asked you for a primary source to back up you claim, a source from the time period, not what a Youtuber said. Can you provide any source that states human dissections were ok? In what ancient text by Galen did he say he performed dissections?



His work would not have become so popular, if there was better knowledge available. The reason Galen became so popular was because he represented the best knowledge available at the time in Egypt and the rest of the Roman world. So far, you haven't provided anything to backup what you say. I don't have to scroll Galen's entire work to find what you claim is there, you need to provide the book of Galen and exactly where he said it.



Then quote the actual text, and not just give the name of the author, which is not sufficient. El Daly ias not an ancient author. Given me the name of the sources he uses, and where they are found. Has anybody but El Daly seen these alleged Arabic manuscripts?



According what you say, the people didn't understand there was any link between the plant and their health, which makes it different from Chinese herbalist. These people just got lucky, is all.





When people say that in ancient times, the average life span was only 40, they are including the high infant mortality rate, which skews the average way down. Once you get past childhood, the average is more like in the 50's.




Actually, it is getting close. You may not have made it all up, but El Daly may have for all I know. Contrary to what you claim, there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians build automatons and mechanical devices, and the Great Library was not really Egyptian, but essentially Greek. It was located in a Greek speaking city, founded by Greeks, and was run under Greek or Roman rulers. Hero, and others are essentially Greeks, not Egyptians, and were part of a larger Greek world.
The last, great point. When I think of ancient ,advanced tech neoplatonist philosophy, I think of Hiro of Alexandria, and Hypatia. Perhaps it is misunderstood; Alexandria was essentially a Greek centre of learning, not Egyptian. Would it have been Greek Christians who murdered Hypatia?

All the the bumf about ancient medical knowledge confuses me. Ok, trepanning was apparently known in neolithic times. Some even survived the operation, but we have no idea what percentage. Some Roman physicians could apparently remove early stage cataracts. Wonderful. We have no idea how widespread the more advanced ideas were. BUT, germ theory was unknown. Why do so many just brush that simple fact aside? Infection would have been a major cause of death, as it was in Europe until the late nineteenth century. How long did the concept of static hygiene take to filter through to the hoi poloi?

Someone said they would have liked to have been a woman in ancient Egypt. Legally, perhaps. Medically? Not this little black duck. Death in child birth was common just about everywhere until the late nineteen century.(at the earliest)

Yes, I often marvel at the wonder of ages., but I wouldn't live in ancient times on a bet.

A simple statistic which has stayed with me since I first read it, decades ago: In 1848, the life expectancy for a US male was 48. Of course skewed by high infant mortality.

I also read that that George Washington and most of the 'main players' of the war of independence died in their 50's, which fits with what you have said.
 
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#36
All those names appear to be Greek, not Egyptian. And their ideas don't seem to have become mainstream.

Is there anything to show Egyptians held such ideas? My studies indicate they did not or at least, it was not held by the majority of Egyptians..
Those guys are all Alexandrians in Ptolemaic Egypt.


A Youtuber hardly ranks as a legitimate scholar. There are people on Youtube who also claim that that ancient aliens built the pyramids. Simply because he says it doesn't make it so. Life is too short to spend the time and money wading through the book to find the passages that support what you say. If you can provide a source (text, and page on the text where the information can be found), I might look it up, otherwise referring me to a Youtube isn't providing the references I had asked for..
There's a lot of trash on YouTube, including Discover & History specials. To damn the whole bunch is just ridiculous. There are college lectures as well on YouTube, like El Daly's on Egyptology.
PhD in Egyptology from University College London, currently on staff of Institute of Archaeology, born in Memphis, Egypt
- Egyptology: The Missing Millennium, Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings -
Reviewd by Elliot Colla, Dept of Comparative Literature, Brown University
"Okasha El-Daly's Egyptology: The Missing Millenium presents for the first time a comprehensive survey of a wide range of medieval Arabic writing on ancient Egypt. The book discusses an impressive body of materials -- travel accounts, linguistic treatises, chronicles, and treasure-hunting manuals - that have remained surprisingly understudied, save by scholars such as Ulrich Haarmann, Michael Cook, and Charles Burnett. The bibliography of medieval sources, along with the appendices of biographical information on the authors and fascinating illustratrions, will make this book a useful addition to fields such as Egyptology, history, and material culture studies. It is a part of a small but growing body of corrective literature that takes seriously the fact that the modern study of pharaonic Egypt has always taken place in relation to Muslim Egypt, a fact all but repressed in the self-narratives of Egyptology."
--- You want to discredit him somehow? Go ahead. His work has been verified by other translators. No one doubts his credentials or interpretations. Investigate before you throw stones.


The name of the text by Herophilus and Erasistratus supposedly said the things claimed is not given. Given me just the name, without the tet they said it in, isn't providing a reference..
Did you look at the website? This an abstract of a peer reviewed paper in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institues of Health.
It names the sources: "the Edwin Smith, Ebers, and Kahun papyri" (translators, not writers) and references Herophilus and Erasistratus. If you want the exact papyrus references and some translations, just pay for a download of the complete article. I merely pointed you in the direction of scholarly verification of my assertions.

The Greeks and Italians in the US are speaking English, and have adopted American culture. Many of them put up a Christmas tree and lights, same as other Americans. The citizens of Alexandria did not adopt Egyptian language and culture. Marseille was a Greek city in France, and the city was Greek, despite all the surrounding countryside being Celtic.
"The city and its driving force meshed the new ideas of the classical Greek civilization with the older wisdom of ancient Egypt, while at the same time synthesizing contributions from a wide range of other cultures and traditions. "
--Okasha El Daly
*I* don't have multiple degrees in Egyptology. I can't argue with him.

Many Romans adopted the worship of the Greek goddess Isis, but that didn't make them Egyptian And the Ptolemies like to pretend they were descended from the ancient Pharaohs, but that was just BS and political grandstanding. Cleopatra was practically the only Ptolemy ruler who bothered to learn Egyptian (Coptic), almost all the other Ptolemaic rulers just knew Greek. The Ptolemies were a Greek dynasty, descended from Greeks and Macedonians, and it is debatable if Cleopatra had any actual Egyptian blood in her.
Cleopatra *WAS* the only Ptolemy to speak Egyptian (and more than 10 other languages) and she likely had NO Egyptian blood. In the 297 yr line of Ptolemies, only two individuals were not incestuous Ptolemy: Cleopatra's grandmother, and her mother. Here you are correct with the implication that the ruling class did not intermarry with the rule. However, Alexandrian society outside of royals was different. As you might expect, there were two types of citizens: Greeks and Egyptians, with Greeks receiving the most benefits. However, somewhere in the middle of the Ptolemaic stretch, it became administrational. Egyptians could "declare" themselves to be Greek, without any Greek blood, by filling out the paperwork. There were pros & cons to each side, different systems of laws, etc. It was hardly the bastion of Marseille. The system of slavery involved two kinds of indenture servitude, and chattel slaves: obtained in warfare, and trading. Greeks could have Egyptian slaves. Egyptians could have Greek slaves. Alexandria wasn't a Greek "outpost": it was a thing to itself.

I asked you for a primary source to back up you claim, a source from the time period, not what a Youtuber said. Can you provide any source that states human dissections were ok? In what ancient text by Galen did he say he performed dissections?
The dissections are documented by that article in the National Institues of Health. It references, just in abstract, three papyri by name.
Here's two of them: Ancient Egyptian anatomical studies - Wikipedia
I don't understand your resistance. This is widely accepted.


<ran out of characters>
 
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#37
His work would not have become so popular, if there was better knowledge available. The reason Galen became so popular was because he represented the best knowledge available at the time in Egypt and the rest of the Roman world. So far, you haven't provided anything to backup what you say. I don't have to scroll Galen's entire work to find what you claim is there, you need to provide the book of Galen and exactly where he said it.
"Galen recommended dissecting monkeys that walked on two legs, like men. He did manage to work a little with the human body, and described how he had human corpses to dissect when he found a hanged criminal, and when a flood washed some bodies out of a cemetery. "

"But Alexandria maintained its reputation. Galen urges the student of medicine to go there, if only for the sake of anatomical study ..."

--- Secondaries only. Still looking for the actual Galen primary references to since you're so keen on sticking your fingers in the wound

Then quote the actual text, and not just give the name of the author, which is not sufficient. El Daly ias not an ancient author. Given me the name of the sources he uses, and where they are found. Has anybody but El Daly seen these alleged Arabic manuscripts?
His book, cited above, gives the exact citations, authors, documents and translations. *I* have double checked him, reading Al Mas'udi in French translation. This is science, not fluff. Once he started, he created a firestorm of interest. A Google search will provide multiple online libraries of Arabic medieval translations of ancient manuscripts. It's really satisfying to read the text, lookup the reference, find it in original Arabic or a French-or-German translation, and see that there's even more than he says. I can't read Arabic ... or type it. Because of El Daly, I've accessed Arabic manuscripts online and was able to cut & paste into a simple Google translator (it's easy once you get the hang of right-to-left and can identify sentence breaks). Of course, this only works for .pdf & .txt stuff: you can't cut&paste images without an OCR ... and I just never went that far. Skepticism as a general rule is good thing. It's not appropriate in terms of Arabic manuscripts you can translate yourself. There are DOZENS of citations, and every one I checked out works. If you want them, organized by topic, just buy the book ... that's what i got it for.



According what you say, the people didn't understand there was any link between the plant and their health, which makes it different from Chinese herbalist. These people just got lucky, is all.
MODERN Africans didn't seem to recognize it. I believe the evidence from ancient Nubia is more herbalistic, but I haven't looked into it deeply.





Contrary to what you claim, there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians build automatons and mechanical devices, and the Great Library was not really Egyptian, but essentially Greek. It was located in a Greek speaking city, founded by Greeks, and was run under Greek or Roman rulers. Hero, and others are essentially Greeks, not Egyptians, and were part of a larger Greek world.
Again, when the primaries talk of Alexandria, they mention Ptolemies and Egypt. Strabo considers Alexandria part of Egypt, I agree. Argue with him. He never sees it as a "Greek outpost".

"This, then, is my general, or summary, account of Aegypt, and I shall now discuss the separate parts and the excellent attributes of the country. Since Alexandria and its neighbourhood constitute the largest and most important part of this subject, I shall begin with them."

--- which starts us off with Philo of Byzantium (250 BCE) small mechanical devices and a life-size automaton that served wine. That was just the start.

I mentioned that I've read Al Mas'udi in French. He personally visited the Pharos before the earthquake that destroyed most of it. He describes three large mechanical statues at the top, two clearly operated by clockwork. Google "Pharos coins" and you will see the three figures. --- this deserves a separate thread. Lets keep this medical as the OP intended.


The Hellenistic (Greek) period ended with the Ptolemies. Heron is 1st century ACE ... not much of a "Greek world" left after 100 yrs.

I'm not sure. I think you recognize Alexandria as a center of knowledge, but downplay it with respect Greece and Rome. I apologize if I got this wrong.
Ptolemy I established the Museo for scholars and lured the brightest minds in the world by housing them, feeding them, giving them a stipend, and providing all the materials they needed for their independent researches. The Great Library was built for their exclusive use (not open to public), and was stocked from all over the world by sales and confiscation (aggressive accumulation). Scholars fought to get to Alexandria from their homes in Greece and Rome and Asia and the Middle East, and lamented if they couldn't do it. (I stumbled across a quote from a Greek phsyician once that I can't re-find: "if only I had been able to go to Alexandria" ). They were totally left to their own devices and pursuits. Their only responsibility was to educate royals when asked (continuing a Macedonian tradition - Phillip was educated by Plato, Alexander by Aristotle). For a time, the brilliance of the classical world was concentrated in a single spot.

Everyone knows where the Antikythera mechanism was found. No one knows where it was made, and, of course, it was unlikely it was a one-off. Since it was shipwrecked in the 1st century BCE, it's most likely birthplace was Alexandria.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#38
<This was WAY harder than I thought it would be. I stopped counting Galen manuscripts at 30. Most of them aren't translated on the web>

Galen
De Anatomicis Administrationibus (On Anatomical Procedures)
Book I: On Dissection in General and on Muscles and Ligaments of Upper Limb in Particular
Chapter 2: How to Study Skeletons

"Make it rather your serious endeavour not only to acquire
accurate book knowledge of each bone but also to examine
assiduously with your own eyes the human bones themselves.
This is quite easy at Alexandria because the physicians there
employ ocular demonstration in teaching osteology to stu-
dents. For this reason, if for no other, try to visit Alexandria.
But if you cannot, it is still possible to see something of human
bones. I, at least, have done so often on the breaking open of a
grave or tomb. Thus once a river, inundating a recent hastily
made grave, broke it up, washing away the body. The flesh
had putrefied, though the bones still held together in their
proper relations. It was carried down a stadium and, reaching
marshy ground, drifted ashore. This skeleton was as though
deliberately prepared for such elementary teaching. And on
another occasion we saw the skeleton of a brigand, lying on
rising ground a little off the road. He had been killed by some
traveller repelling his attack. The inhabitants would not bury
him, glad enough to see his body consumed by the birds which,
in a couple of days, ate his flesh, leaving the skeleton as if for
demonstration. "

"As I have already said, you should seek in demonstrations
to uncover the part for study as rapidly as possible, and to dis
play it in many aspects, adopting various methods of handling. "


What I learned from my search:
1) Cornellius Celsus "On Medicine" 23-4, and Tertullian "On the Soul" 10. Herophilus & Erasistratus not only dissected, they vivisected criminals supplied from Ptolemy's jails (predating Robert the Bruce, I guess).
2) Alexandrian dissection was thought to have stopped under the Romans, but the first passage is interpreted as saying Galen saw dissections there ... "ocular demonstrations".
3) Galen performed dissections (and sometimes vivisections) almost every day, in public ... both to sharpen his surgical skills and to gain knowledge. All his inaccuracies are due to the fact that he used animals (Barbary apes when available, also dogs, pigs,...). His treatise "Dissection of the Uterus" is inaccurate because he did a dog uterus ... and apparently there are some extra parts.
4) From the secondaries, I thought there was one flood body and one brigand. Galen says "OFTEN on the breaking open of a grave or tomb." How often, exactly, did that happen? I wonder if that single word "often" is mistranslated. Maybe it should be "opportunistically"? I'm too tired to look at the Latin.
5) Galen hung around cemeteries in his off time? That "often" really bugs me.

I recommend this book for a general roundup of Hellenistic era medicine (i read parts of it on Google books). Primaries and paragraph citations for everything. ... and yes, while they consider Alexandrians a separate entity, they are under the general "Greek" content of the book.
Greek Medicine
"In the third century BC Greek Rational Medicine was transported to Egypt and levels of sophistication in the knowledge of human anatomy were attained at Alexandria that remained unsurpassed until the Renaissance. Some scholars have seen this advance as directly due to knowledge derived from native Egyptian burial rites."

I love the citation format. I'm thinking of actually BUYING it (I can find most stuff online).
 
Last edited:
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#39
You still need to provide ancient sources that show that human dissection was allowed by the ancient Romans
A quick Google search will yield TONS of sites that claim "Romans outlawed dissection".

There's another thread with "barbarism" or "barbaric" in the title. The gyst is "the whole world was barbaric until Christianity came along ... Christianity alone civilized the world." You can imagine this got a lot of postings. It's been going on for months.

Somewhere in there I got involved with dissection (again). At that time, I believed all the secondaries. It was he-said, she-said non-stop ... so I decided to look it up in academic literature. There are many, many, many Roman laws that have been preserved from trivial to severe. There is not a single one that addresses dissection, either pro or con. There are some restrictions on how bodies are to be treated, but it's mainly the "possession" of the body. Bodies unclaimed by family were up for grabs. The IDEA is that you would dispose of them, but there's nothing against cutting them up. The actual details and citations are buried in that thread. I got caught up in there too long and don't want to go near it.

There is an academic paper that flat out states there were no laws against dissection in the Roman empire .... ever. On the other hand, it wasn't done much .. or at least recorded. That citation is in the thread.
 
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#40
I'll back off on El Daly ... a little bit.

I just went through his book. I didn't buy it for science: I bought it for Arabic translations ... of Egyptian self-wrote histories ... of the last century of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Pretty specific.

Every single time I've followed his citations, I've been rewarded with more than I expected. Romans demonized Cleopatra due to Augustinian propaganda. Greeks, realizing the Acteum was the end of civil war, nothing to do with Egypt, basically thought she was insignificant. The Egyptians, the people she ruled, had a very high opinion of her as a philosopher, scientist, and administrator .... thanks to El Daly's citations: it's right there in the primaries.

It touches on hard sciences, but there's no direct citations for Arabic resurrection of Egyptian medical documents ... although El Daly "says" they were furiously translating them in passing. I've heard him say as much in lectures, but I can't find any citations.

From my perspective, he was so so so right on "A", why would he lie on "B"? ... but since there are no citations, I'll back off using him for medicine ... and wait for his next book.
 

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