Topic editor: Steven G. Gilbert
Lead author: Steven G. Gilbert


The Ebers Papyrus (approximately 1500 BCE), one of the two oldest maintained medical documents, preserved for us most extensive record of Egyptian medical history. In it, the Egyptians show a degree of knowledge of the workings of the human body, its structure, the job of the heart and blood vessels. The oldest well preserved medical document from ancient Egyptian record dated from approximately 1500 BC contains 110 pages on anatomy and physiology, toxicology, spells, and treatment recorded on papyrus. The papyrus also has many prescriptions showing the treatment of many disorders by animal, plant, and mineral toxins that still occur today.

Toxicological Perspective

The toxicological importance of the papyrus relates to the vast amount of herbal remedies and explanations of various toxins that the papyrus illuminates. Below is a small list of the herbs highlighted in the script (retrieved from Crystallinks):

Herbal Remedies Mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus


The Ebers Papyrus was purchased by Edwin Smith, an American adventurer residing in Cairo, in 1862 in Luxor. He kept the papyrus in his possession until 1869 when he placed it on sale. Three years later, the papyrus was again purchased in 1872 by the Egyptologist Georg Ebers, for whom the papyrus is named.

The papyrus is 110 pages long making it the largest medical papyri discovered to date. The exact date when the papyrus was composed is open to some debate due to conflicting dates about its origin that arise in the passage. One passage dates the papyrus to the 9th year of the reign of Amenhotep I which would place the papyrus to around 1534 BCE. However, a passage further down refers to one of the king's of lower Egypt that ruled around 3000 BCE.

The papyrus refers to a myriad of medical spells, treatments, surgeries, and diseases that afflicted the ancient Egyptians. For a full list of what is addressed in the papyrus see the links below.


External Links