OIP 3. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, Volume 1: Hieroglyphic Transliteration, Translation, and Commentary. J. H. Breasted. (Reissued 1991 with a foreword by T. A. Holland)

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Behind the scientifically accurate study and publication of The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, the most important document in the history of science surviving from the pre-Greek age of mankind (seventeenth century b.c.), lies a story as remarkable as the papyrus itself. Early in 1862, during his residence in Thebes, Mr. Edwin Smith, a man of great intellectual gifts, purchased what is now known as the Edwin Smith Surgical papyrus. How it came into the possession of the New York Historical Society, lay many years virtually unnoticed, was at length "rediscovered" and brought to Dr. Breasted's attention, and finally under his close scrutiny has revealed itself as the oldest known scientific treatise surviving from the ancient world, is described in the Introduction to one of the most illuminating glimpses we have ever had into the astonishingly developed medical knowledge of ancient Egypt.

Both to the medical profession and to the lay reader the Surgical Papyrus will be of intense interest. It contains, for example, for the first time in human speech a word for "brain." Disclosing an inductive method and an attitude surprisingly scientific in an age so remote from modern times, it forms a new chapter in the history of science. Repeatedly the surgeon, because of his scientific interest in the observable facts, discusses cases of injured men whom he has no hope of saving.

Volume 1 contains a historical introduction to the document, followed by translation and commentary. Volume 2 contains collotype facsimiles of the Papyrus, which originally was in a continuous roll but for the sake of convenience has now been cut into columns of text. [From The New Past, 1931, pp. 19-20].

  • Oriental Institute Publications 3
  • Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1930
  • ISBN 978-0-918986-73-3
  • Pp. xxiv + 596, 8 plates
  • Clothbound 9 x 11.75 in / 23 x 30 cm
  • Out of Print