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Book #2 — The Secret Medicine of the Pharaohs by Cornelius Stetter

First, what’s the deal with the tabloid title?  The “Secret” Medicine?  What sort of medicine the ancient Egyptians practiced may not be well known, but it’s not really secret either.  This book is sprawling.  Stetter touches upon this, that, and the other without really delving into any subject in great detail.  He offers up quite a bit about Egyptology that isn’t directly related to medicine.  I already know what a wonder the pyramids and tombs are, and therefore I didn’t need a long section on their measurements.  How those hundreds of thousand guys schlepping stone around treated their blisters would have been more interesting.  There’s a lengthy bit at the end about the Book of the Dead, which isn’t medicine either.  I’d consider mummification only peripherally related to the health of the living.  Cures are listed out in a rather mundane manner, while circumcision is given several pages, revealing a prejudice in  Stetter’s for trying to prove the Judeo-Christian Bible wrong.  One reviewer on claims that the book is very inaccurate on many counts.  Despite all this, I liked the book.  It’s given me a glimpse or two in to what that culture might have been like.  Very different from that conjured by my imagination.


Writer, publisher. Hobbies include reading, studying magic & illusions from a historical/theoretical perspective, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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