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The Edwin Smith Papyrus: Orthopaedic Surgery 5000 years ago in Pharaonic Egypt

All University, Public
Event type
Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences

This lecture explores the oldest known surgical text in the history of civilization documented in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, discovered in 1862 outside Luxor, Egypt.

The surviving scroll, thought to be a copy of an earlier text from around 3000 BC, gives a remarkable insight into the practice of surgery by physicians in Ancient Egypt. The papyrus describes 48 cases, mostly related to traumatic injuries, in a systematic manner based on objective clinical examination, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment which remains valid in modern medicine.

Although Egyptian medicine was founded on magic and superstition, the Edwin Smith papyrus only mentions a few cases where magical spells, incantations and herbal remedies are recommended, and as such it is clearly the first medical text which attempts to embrace the scientific approach to disease.

Presented by Jean-Claude Theis, Emeritus Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Otago.

Zoom details

The lecture with be delivered simutaneously in person and on Zoom.

Zoom link:
Zoom ID: 991 3636 0734
Password: 902671



Emeritus Professor Terence Doyle


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