An ailment with which I will contend: Health care in ancient Egypt

Anne Austin
UC Los Angeles

Archaeologists focus almost exclusively on paleopathology of human remains when researching health. While this documents diseases, it is incapable of identifying the medical treatments and services that constitute health care. In my dissertation, I combine paleopathological data with health-related texts in order to explore ancient health care systems. Specifically, I compare the skeletal remains of individuals of different genders, statuses, and occupations from the Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina (1550 through 1080 B.C.E.) to assess each group’s illnesses and stresses. I then use personal letters, administrative records, and medical texts from the site to determine the local and state health care networks for each group. These two data sets shed light on the applications and efficacy of health care in ancient Egypt through an understanding of both the physiological illnesses and social care at Deir el-Medina.