Egyptian medical papyrus

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I am off to Egypt for two weeks to rest, relax and think. I wonder what the country will have in store for me …

According to some historians, an Egyptian medical papyrus dating from around 1990 bc — one of the oldest surviving documents known to medical history — records a series of curious behavioural disturbances in adult women. As the ancient Egyptians interpreted it, the cause of these abnormalities was the movement of the uterus, which they believed to be an autonomous, free-floating organism that could move upward from its normal pelvic position. Such a dislocation, they reasoned, applied pressure on the diaphragm and gave rise to bizarre physical and mental symptoms. Egyptian doctors developed an array of medications to entice the errant womb back down into its correct position. Foremost among these measures were the vulvar placement of aromatic substances to draw the womb downward, and swallowing foul-tasting substances to repel the uterus away from the upper parts.

From ‘Oxford Companion to the Body: hysteria’