Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus (c. 1550 BCE)

Case 25. Instruction for a dislocation of his mandible. (Original in the Rare Book Room, New York Academy of Medicine. Facsimile in Breasted JH (1930)). Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, IX 2-6. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.
Some treatments have dramatic effects. One such example is the reduction of the dislocation of the lower jaw (mandible). These directions for treating a dislocated mandible in ancient Egypt describe a treatment that is still used today, 3,500 years later.

Key passage(s)




“If you examine a man having a dislocation [wenekh] in his mandible [aret] and you find his mouth open and his mouth does not close for him, you then place your finger[s] [? thumb] on the back of the two rami of the mandible inside his mouth, your two claws [groups of fingers] under his chin, you cause them [i.e. the two mandibles] to fall so they lie in their [correct] place! Thou shalt then say, concerning him, one suffering from a dislocation of his two mandibles, an ailment which I will treat. You should then bind it with imru and honey every day until he recovers.”

Translation by Dr John F Nunn

Whole article


The editors are grateful to:

Translation and images kindly provided by Dr John F Nunn.

See Nunn JF (1996). Ancient Egyptian Medicine. Norman: University of Okhlahoma Press, p 178.