Bread and beer in ancient Egyptian medicine
in Mummies, magic and medicine in ancient Egypt
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Cereal crops were of fundamental importance to the ancient Egyptians, as evidenced by their integration into society at a number of levels. Mathematical problems were phrased in terms of the conversion of grain into bread and beer, which formed the basis of wages, everyday diet, and funerary offerings. Bread and beer also featured prominently in the practice of medicine, with a significant number of the surviving remedies in the medical papyri including one or more of these in their formulation. One of the only known surviving accounts of a brewing method is found in the Ebers Papyrus, providing an insight into how the ancient Egyptians prepared this important constituent of their diet. Much of the research into ancient Egyptian medicine has focussed on what could be considered active ingredients such as herbs, but were bread and beer used simply because of their convenience and availability, or could they have had a more practical use? Could a prescription for a course of nourishing and bacteriologically clean beer have been sufficient in some cases to effect a recovery, or could it also have fulfilled a role as carrier or dose control mechanism?

Mummies, magic and medicine in ancient Egypt

Multidisciplinary essays for Rosalie David


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