The oldest known medical treatise in the world. The papyrus itself dates from around 1600 B.C.E., though the text is generally believed to date from approximately 3000 B.C.E., with commentary (notes) from a few hundred years later. What is so interesting about the text, aside from its extreme age, is its startling modernity of format and style: cases are listed from the top of the head proceeding downwards, like a modern medical textbook; each case lists a distinct examination, diagnosis (generally a pronouncement of whether or not the case can be treated), treatment, and often a follow-up; only one treatment (case nine) resorts to magic, the rest are physical in nature. Frequent treatments include the setting of bones, packing wounds with meat, and covering wounds with honey, an excellent antibacterial agent.

Edwin Smith, an American egyptologist is reputed to have bought the main part of papyrus in Luxor in 1862 from tomb robbers, who sold him the remaining portion two months later. In 1906 Smith's daughter gave the papyrus to the New York Historical Society, which entrusted Professor James Breasted, then Director of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute. The translation was announced as complete in 1930. In 1949 the New York Historical Society sold its Egyptian collection to the Brooklyn Museum with the stipulation that the Edwin Smith Papyrus be given to the Academy of Medicine, where it now resides.

References:
The Edwin Smith Papyrus, the Oldest Surgical Treatise in the World by Professor M. KAMEL HUSSEIN, M. Ch., F.R.C.S.; published online at Egyptian Orthopedic Assiciation (http://www.eoa.org.eg/oldest.htm)
Neurosurgical Classic-XVII: Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus by Robert H. Wilkins, M.D.; published in Journal of Neurosurgery, March 1964, pages 240-244

Index:

Case one: A wound in the head penetrating to the bone
Case two: A wound in the head penetrating to the bone
Case three: A wound in the head penetrating to the bone and perforating the skull
Case Four: A wound in the head penetrating to the bone and splitting the skull
Case Five: A gaping wound in the head with a compound comminuted fracture of the skull
Case Six: A gaping wound in the head with a compound comminuted fracture of the skull and rupture of the memingeal membranes
Case Seven: A wound in the head penetrating to the bone and perforating the sutures
Case Eight: Compound comminuted fracture of the skull displaying no visible external injury
Case Nine: Wound in the forehead producing a compound communited fracture of the skull
Case Ten: A gaping wound at the top of the eyebrow, perforating to the bone
Case Eleven: A broken nose
Case Twelve: A break in the nasal bone
Case Thirteen: Compound comminuted fracture in the side of the nose
Case Fourteen: Flesh wound in one side of the nose perforating to the nostril
Case Fifteen: Perforation of the bone in the region of the maxilla and the Zygoma
Case Sixteen: Split of the bone in the region of the maxilla and the zygoma
Case Seventeen: Compound comminuted fracture of the bone in the region of the maxilla and the zygoma
Case Eighteen: A wound in the soft tissue of the temple, the bone being uninjured
Case Nineteen: A perforation in the temple
Case Twenty: A wound in the temple perforating the bone
Case Twenty-one: A split in the temporal bone
Case Twenty-two: Compound comminuted fracture of the temporal bone
Case Twenty-three: A split in the outer ear
Case Twenty-four: A fracture of the mandible
Case Twenty-five: A dislocation of the mandible
Case Twenty-six: A wound in the upper lip
Case Twenty-seven: A gaping wound in the chin
Case Twenty-eight: A gaping wound in the throat penetrating to the gullet
Case Twenty-nine: A gaping wound in a cervical vertebra
Case Thirty: Sprain in a cervical vertebra
Case Thirty-one: Dislocation of a cervical vertebra
Case Thirty-two: Displacement of a cervical vertebra
Case Thirty-three: A crushed cervical vertebra
Case Thirty-four: Dislocation of the two clavicles
Case Thirty-five: A fracture of the clavicle
Case Thirty-six: A fracture of the humerus
Case Thirty-seven: A fracture of the humerus with rupture of overlying soft tissue
Case Thirty-eight: A split in the humerus
Case Thirty-nine: Tumors or ulcers in the breast perhaps resulting from injury
Case Forty: A wound in the breast
Case Forty-one: An infected or possibly necrotic wound in the breast
Case Forty-two: A Sprain in the sterno-costal articulation
Case Forty-three: A dislocation in the sterno-costal articulations
Case Forty-four: Fractured Ribs
Case Forty-five: A wound in the breast
Case Forty-six: An abscess with prominent head of the breast
Case Forty-seven: A gaping wound in the shoulder
Case Forty-eight: A sprain in a spinal vertebra (incomplete)

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