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The Papyrus Ebers

With a lot of luck and a dry climate like that of Egypt, the Papyrus Ebers remained stable for thousands of years. The medical knowledge, however, is believed to have been copied from even earlier texts. Consisting of 110 pages, roughly 20 meters long, it is among the oldest preserved medical documents.

Miriam bat Isaac as an alchemist surely was familiar with the contents of this papyrus. Alchemists were concerned with how to keep the body and spirt of humans as well as those of metals heathy. When in The Deadliest Lie she goes to Aspasia’s apothecary, she passes the time by testing herself on the various remedies she recognizes:

A waist-high, wooden bench spanned the warped floorboards at the center of her shop. I could see from the pyramid of crushed cannabis leaves on its marble top and an open scroll of De Medicina that she’d been compounding suppositories to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. With the sunlight streaming through the open shutters, I could read on neatly printed labels the contents of each amphora, ceramic jar, and alabastron on the tower of shelves near her bench. She stocked the usual: castor oil, figs, and white hellebore for constipation; opium for pain, diarrhea, and insomnia; aloe for rashes; crocodile dung and sour milk to blend for a contraceptive; and various animal fats to combine for treating baldness.

You don’t have to be constipated or have a rash, to benefit from reading The Deadliest Lie. In fact, you’re more likely to find an effective remedy in Walmart’s, but just one chapter will cure you of boredom and stress. Just click here.


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