Code of Hammrubai
 

Medicine in Pharonic Chimie 

Female Physicians in Ancient Egypt 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Babylonian throne room, around 2000 B.C. is the setting for this painting. Central figure is the physician, defending with dignity his professional practices against the complaints of a dissatisfied, litter borne patient who seeks invocation of the drastic penalties of the Code of Hammurabi. The king, the scribe with his stylus and tablet of soft clay, court attaches, guards, priests, friends of plaintiff and of defendant, and the usual bystanders comprise the cast of this critical drama of medicine 4,000 years ago.


Ref

http://dodd.cmcvellore.ac.in/hom/02%20-%20Code%20of%20Hammrubai.html

This extremely interesting document, preserved on a pillar of back diorite standing now in the Louvre, in Paris, France deals with all phases of economic and family life in ancient Mesopotamia. Of its 282 paragraphs, 11 refer to the practices of physicians and veterinarians. Several substantially similar translations are available. Excerpts of one by Charles Edwards, of London, paragraphs 215-224, follow;


“If a doctor has treated a Freeman with a metal knife for a severe wound, and has cured the Freeman, or has opened a Freeman’s tumour with a metal knife, and cured a Freeman’s eye, then he shall receive ten shekels of silver.
“If the son of a plebeian, he shall receive five shekels of silver.
“If a man’s slave, the owner of the slave shall give two shekels of silver to the doctor.
“If a doctor has treated a man with a metal knife for a severe wound, and has caused the man to die, or has opened a man’s tumour with a metal knife and destroyed the man’s eye, his hands shall be cut off.
“If a doctor has treated a slave of a plebeian with a metal knife for a severe wound and caused him to die, he shall render slave for slave
“If he has opened his tumor with a metal knife and destroyed his eye he shall pay half his price in silver.
“If a doctor has healed a Freeman’s broken bone or has restored diseased flesh, the patient shall give the doctor five shekels of silver.
“If he be the son of a plebeian, he shall give three shekels of silver.
“If a man’s slave, the owner of the slave shall give two shekels of silver to the doctor.
“If a doctor of oxen or asses has treated either ox or ass for a severe wound, and cured it, the owner of the ox or ass shall give to the doctor one sixth of a shekel of silver as his fee.”

Here is rather grim evidence of a regular, recognized medical profession existing 4,000 years ago that attempted at least minor surgery, observed its legal responsibility, and operated on a government controlled sliding fee schedule, all based on the social status of the patient. The influence of this code spread far beyond Babylonia, as is demonstrated in the Old Testament and in ancient Jewish philosophies of “ an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth.” Abraham, originally a citizen of the Mesopotamian city-state of Ur, founded the Hebrew nation at about the same period that Hammurabi ruled Babylon. “ Through Judaism, Christianity and Islam ancient Mesopotamian institutions have survived to the present day in the West and in the East,” says Sigerist.