Health and Healing
Several items in the Egypt Centre are associated with health and healing. These include:
A sarcophagus fragment of Amenhotep Son of Hapu.
Amenhotep rose to importance under the king Amenhotep III. Although he was never a vizier he was an extremely important official. After his death he was deified. As such he acted as an intermediary between the people and the god Amun.
A figure of Amenhotep in the Brooklyn Museum reads:
O noble Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, justified! Come, good physician! Look, I suffer from my eyes. May you cause that I be healthy at once. I have made this as recompense for it….
Amenhotep also acted as a healer through oracles:
I asked the great god Amenhotep. He answered that a fever was in the body of Teos and that two Syrian figs may be given to him, watered from the evening to the morning….The Liquid shall be poured in a vessel with broken bread and mixed well. He shall drink this and shall continue for four days.
Female figurines, possibly associated with fertility, or used in the healing of diseases or protection against snake bites.
A cippus used as a protection against snake and scorpions or for healing more generally.
Amulets were used for protection and healing. The heart amulet and wedjet eye amulets seem to have been particularly associated with health.
Eye make-up, particularly eye make-up, is thought to have been used not only to beautify but also to help protect against disease.
Items associated with Thoth. Because of his role as a god of wisdom, Thoth was associated with healing. The ‘House of Life’ was under his protection.
The goddess Taweret was associated with childbirth and amulets of her are well known.
Certain plants were also used in medicine, such as the poppy seed, which appear on our beaded collars. It has also been suggested that certain vessels were in the shape of poppies and may have been used to contain opium. The sap of the sycamore fig was also considered to have healing properties as was incense.
In the past, it has been suggested that the Egyptians made use of the narcotic properties of the lotus, though this seems not to have been the case.
Interestingly, most of our collection was originally part of that belonging to Sir Henry Wellcome, the pharmacist.