Doctor's letter


Doctor's letter

At the end of the 4th century AD e. one Eudaimon wrote a letter home to the Egyptian city of Oxyrinch their mother, grandmothers and wife (or sister) Kira. The letter is written in ink on papyrus . On the back of the letter he indicated the address: “to transfer to a hospital”, and in the letter itself asked to send him medicines and tools. From all this it follows that Evdemon was a doctor.

The letter is written in ancient Greek. Here is his translation:

" Dear mom, grandmothers, as well as Cyrus sends greetings to Evdemon. As soon as I had the opportunity, I hastened to write to you, praying to divine providence, that you would receive my letter in health and good humor. I was worried when Heraclammon arrived and said that our sister Kira was ill. But I thank the divine providence that helps us everywhere and in everything that she recovered! Tell her that our sister Cyril’s linen clothes are already ready, and if I find someone I know coming to you, I will send these outfits along with a purple wrap and shoes. I also received goods from embroidered Elena, but found only four books in the bag. But you wrote that you sent five! I also got everything else, except for one vessel with animal fat. Let our brother Theodore look for and find out he put a vessel with eye balms instead of a vessel with fat. Send me a bronze sheet so that I can make new surgical instruments, as well as a heater and cans, so that I have a set of five. Send also three pounds of ointments mixed from different ingredients including astringents ".

The last item on this list did not fit on the papyrus, so Evdemon turned the letter and added several lines to the side of the margins, perpendicular to the main text. At the end, the letter breaks off. The address bar was preserved on the back: “ Give to the hospital. From Euddemont ".

As you can see, issues related to family life, for Evdemon stand in the first place, and only then he goes on to his professional problems. He asks to send him: a bronze sheet for the manufacture of surgical instruments (or, in another translation, a folding bronze box on hinges for storing surgical instruments); a heater (maybe it was something like a heating pad); medical banks; three pounds of various ointments.


Doctor's letter

Image of surgical instruments on the walls The temple at Kom Ombo , Egypt. Left - photo © Bruno Bottier from flickr.com . Right - image from an article by A. Saber, 2010. Ancient Egyptian Surgical Heritage


Medical bank treatment is first mentioned in 3-3-375. Ebers papyrus about 1500 BC e. In Roman time, medical banks 3-3-3142. made mostly of bronze, although archaeologists also find glass jars. In addition to our usual way of using cans, was also made. bloodletting - at that time it was one of the most popular medical practices. To do this, the skin in a certain place was scratched with a knife, and then put on the damaged area of the jar. At the same time, it was preheated so that the air inside the can formed a vacuum as it cools. Interestingly, in a letter, Evdemon asks to send several such cans, apparently of different sizes, so that he gets a set for different parts of the body.


Doctor's letter

Votive plate with tools for bloodletting from the temple Asclepius in Athens ( Asklepieion of Athens ): scalpels in a folding box and two medical jars, 320 BC e. Image from an article by H. Christopoulou-Aletra, N. Papavramidou, 2008. Cupping: An Alternative Surgical Procedure Used by Hippocratic Physicians


Ointments then were most often ophthalmic, such an ointment was called collirium (see 3-3-3113. Collyrium 3-3-3142.), But there were ointments for headaches or acne. The composition of ointments is 3-3-3115. 3-3-3142 entered. a variety of components: plant extracts, honey, grated minerals, parts of the body of animals.

Also in the letter, Eudaimon indicates that he was sent five books, and he received only four. Perhaps these were medical guides or prescription collections. In Egypt, 1700 years ago, there was neither regular mail nor a delivery service: all letters and parcels had to be sent with a messenger or with an opportunity. Private papyrus letters often contain requests for clothes, documents, money, medicine, or books.

We do not know anything about Euddemont, nor about his family, nor about his hospital (this could be a private practice at home, perhaps family) except what he himself wrote in his papyrus letter. Where does he write from? Why was he away from his family? Why asks to send him medical devices and materials? A papyrus with a letter was found at the beginning of the twentieth century in the ruins of ancient Oksirinha, along with tens of thousands of other papyrus documents: private letters, receipts, receipts, scraps of ancient Greek literature (see 3-3-3121. Oxirinh papyrus 3-3-3142.). Among the papyrus fragments there are also medical texts: reports and certificates of doctors, prescriptions for ointments, textbooks, reference books on ophthalmology, papyrus with 3-3-3123. Hippocratic Oath and fragments of various essays on the medical art.

Eudaimon wrote his letter in ancient Greek, since he apparently belonged to the Greek population of Egypt. At this time, Egypt has been a Roman province for several centuries. But even earlier, about 800 years before Eudemon, the country was conquered 3–3–3127. Alexander the Great who brought with him a huge army of Macedonians and Greeks. They brought Hellenistic culture to Egypt and built new cities in which most of the inhabitants were Greeks. Greek was also planted in Egypt from above - as the language of the ruling dynasty 3-3-3129. Ptolemaic 3-3-3142. and officials.

Ancient Egypt was famous in the ancient world for its medicine. The world's first medical treatises-guides for the treatment of diseases came to us on papyrus scrolls in the ancient Egyptian language, recorded 3-3-3133. in hieratic writing : this, for example, Edwin Smith papyrus (XVII century BC), Ebers papyrus (XVI century BC) and Brugsch papyrus (3-3-3137. Brugsch Papyrus 3-3-3142., XIV-XIII centuries BC). The traditions of Egyptian doctors were passed down from generation to generation and persisted in Ptolemaic and Roman times. Evdemon, most likely, was a representative of the Greco-Roman tradition of medicine, which included, among other things, elements of the Egyptian.

Photo from the site papyri.info .

Alena Chepel

04 июнь 2020 /
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