- Paperback: 330 pages
- Publisher: Random House UK (July 9, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1845951506
- ISBN-13: 978-1845951504
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One of the papyri that Smith bought suggested mixing willow with figs, dates and beer to 'cause the heart to receive bread.' (The Egyptians used 'bread' as a synonym for all sorts of fine things. Their daily greeting for each other was a cheerful wish for 'Bread and beer!' meaning pretty much everything in life that was good.) The historian of aspirin commented that 'many of their superstitions, reasoning and treatments are based on concepts that are alien to us'. That is true, but it is not what really matters. The Egyptians considered their doctors and their medicines as being potent and effective. Their practices show something different. These papyri, the oldest proper medical instructions of our species, contained potions and salves and drugs whose effectiveness was a fantasy. Traditional knowledge of healing was not reliable. The first doctors in the world were frauds. This was a remarkable beginning for any profession, even more so for one that has always delighted in a special trust. For the next three and a half thousand years, little changed.