Egyptology, Oriental Archaeology And Travel -- By: Joseph P. Thompson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:80 (Oct 1863)
Article: Egyptology, Oriental Archaeology And Travel
Author: Joseph P. Thompson


Egyptology, Oriental Archaeology And Travel

Joseph P. Thompson

In the Bibliotheca Sacra for October 1862, some account was given of Dr. Henri Brugsch’s Recueil de Monuments Egyptiens, with special mention of a new confirmation of Herodotus by the discovery of a Phenician Astoreth worshipped at Memphis. The second volume of this work contains a stilt more remarkable confirmation of Galen, through the discovery at Memphis of a portion of the medical library, which the Greek father of therapeutics describes as contained in the temple of Ptah, in that city, It has long been known to savans that a papyrus discovered at Memphis some thirty years ago, by Mr. Passalacqua, and now among the treasures of the Royal Museum of Berlin, was a treatise on Materia Medica, and in 1853, Dr Brugsch published, in the Allgemeine Monatschrift für Wissenschaft unt Literatur, a memoir based upon this manuscript, and treating of the knowledge of medicine in ancient Egypt. Mons. F. Chabas of Chalon-sur-Saone, an eminent Egyptologist, published a dissertation upon the same manuscript, in his Melanges Egyptologiques of 1862.1 And now, at the instance of many European scholars, Dr. Brugsch publishes the entire manuscript in fac simile, with copious annotations.2

It covers twenty-three large quarto pages, and is in a remarkably perfect state. In the original, two of these pages are written upon the reverse. The manuscript is divided by M Chabas into three parts, and these again, according to Brugsch, are subdivided into sections, each indicated by a brief title in red ink. Chabas estimates that it contains not less than a hundred and seventy distinct medical prescriptions, applicable to a great variety of diseases, and though these may not put us in possession of many forgotten remedies, they will serve to enrich the vocabulary of medicine with a variety of technical terms.

According to Diodorus Siculus, the Egyptian physician was bound to follow the code prescribed in these books, under severe penalties if a case should terminate fatally through some adventurous treatment of his own. “Medici enim annonam ex publico accipiunt, et medicinam ex lege scripta, per multos ab antiquo medicos illustres concinnatam, applicant. Si leges, quas sacri codicis lectio tradit, secuti aegroto sanitatem reddere nequeant, culpa vacant, et indemnes abeunt; sin contra praescriptum agant, capitis

judicium subeunt. Nam medendi rationem longi temporis usu observatam et ab optimis artificibus ordinatam paucos ingenio et sollertia superaturos legislator censuit.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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