In the Egyptian medicine there were two different tendencies: the magical-religious one, which included very primitive elements, and the empirical-rational one, based on experience and observation, with no mystic elements.
There were many doctors in Ancient Egypt, so each one of them cared almost exclusively about the diseases they knew better. The ordinary doctors were helped by professionals of a superior level, by inspectors and by supervisors. A male paramedic staff assisted them.
They owed their anatomic knowledge to the observation of animals during the slaughtering and not to the observation of the embalming of a dead person which was reserved to the priests devoted to Anubis, so their knowledge on anatomy, that is, of the structure and of the disposition of the organs, was modest and, so in consequence, even the surgery procedures were very limited: a practice of old tradition and still widely used was the drilling, which was the perforation of the skull to heal cephaleas and mental disorder.
The heart was considered the place for emotions and intellect.
The well-being of the body depended, according to them, on the flowing of liquids in the metu, the vessels that went across it, and if one of these vessels was obstructed, the disease appeared.
Pneumonia and tuberculosis were the most common diseases, caused by the inhalation of sand and smoke of the domestic hearths.
The parasitic diseases were as common caused by the absence of
hygiene. The common diseases were usually cured by doctors with the empirical-rational method, thanks mostly to the fact that these organs are directly accessible; the illness of other parts of the body were, instead cured by sorcerers with magic and incantations.
During the third dynasty the doctor began to be distinguished as a figure, although primitive, of a scientist, different from the sorcerer and the priest. The first Egyptian doctor whose name has reached us is Imhotep (who lived around 2725 BC), famous also as a builder of pyramids and as an astrologer.
Usually the doctor spent years of hard training in the schools in the temples, to learn the art of questioning the sick person, of his inspection and of the palpating (an examination of the body made feeling with hands).
The pharmacopeia of the time included vegetal medical substances: the use of laxatives was common such as figs, dates and castor-oil, tannico acid , derived mostly by galla nuts was considered useful to treat burns.
The most common tools were: tweezers, knives, suture threads, splinters, drills and dental pieces.