Disclaimer: my research ideas are all over the place, so helping me narrow down my focus is much needed. Which topic do you find most interesting and what about that topic would you like to know more of?
My research topic will cover ancient paleopathology and how Egyptian’s treatment of diseases/infections changed over the reign of dynastic Egypt using their mortuary practices and historical texts as guidance. Any living being can have pathology, and evidence of most pathologies are shown in malformed bones, broken bones or some sort of irregular fusion of bone, and even soft tissue during one’s life span. I would like to examine how social ranking, gender divisions, geographical settings, periods of climatic change, and age differences influence methods of care-from surgical use to medicinal use and everything in between. There is this overarching narrative that says Egyptians primarily treated their patients with religion. In my opinion. Egyptian knowledge of the human body and its functions were far too advanced to encourage this narrative, so rather my goal is to gain an insightful understanding of Egyptian public health and past healthcare systems.
There are obvious limitations to utilizing primary historical texts for analysis (i.e. incorrect translations, susceptibility to biases and interpretations); however, I am most interested in using evidence from the Edwin Smith papyrus to base a lot of my analysis off as it is one of the most comprehensive texts about trauma and surgery. The Edwin Smith papyrus is medical texts that express the Egyptian view of medical treatment, yet it does not necessarily discuss actual implementation of treatments. The medical knowledge provided in the papyrus ranges treatable to untreatable conditions; and the texts state uses of spells as default cures. I plan to do an in-depth exploration of surgical remedies, splints, casts, amputation of bones, prosthetics, and other medicines created to treat pathologies, and use such evidence to compare across the various factors expressed previously.
I am also interested in partial preservation studies and that allows for analysis of ancient human conditions and how disease evolved, developed, and progressed through time with medical intervention vs. without medical intervention (e.g. religion). The distribution of disease in past human groups can be a complex study in itself but narrowing it down to treatment helps identify whose health was most important and how arbitrary was that scale? While there is an abundant amount of literature on medical treatments, important clues and causes on adaptation to medical treatments remain little. I have been speculating a theory/idea on evolution of medical treatment not solely based on evolution of disease, but possible cultural assimilation and immigration that influenced medical treatment. Comparing and contrasting that Egyptian culture treatment practices from one time period in their society to another and examining what factors (e.g. socioeconomic status) influenced changes in medical treatment. All in all, how did Egyptians determine whose life was worth saving (if any value was added to that life) and whose life was ultimately in divine faith, and if that influenced treatment of diseases? Can intentional death be determined by medical treatment practices?