Perusal of several of the scholarly discussions of ancient Egyptian medicine permits one conclusion only: the practice of this art in the beginning was largely mystical or a combination of incantations and religious overtones. This is not surprising since a similar philosophy of etiology and management of disease prevails in limited areas of the world in contemporary times. The witch doctor or the disciple of voodooism today outnumbers and outpractices the physician in selected areas of the New World as well as the Old World.
The revelations of the Papyrus Edwin Smith, one of the several extant documents from ancient Egypt that has been translated and studied, are more complimentary to ancient Egyptian medicine than was formerly believed. The Papyrus, which was discovered at Thebes in 1862, was translated a half century later by James H. Breasted, a distinguished professor of Egyptology and Oriental history at the University of Chicago.