Posted by: travelrat | August 14, 2013

Assem’s Story

SE8-Temple Carvings, Abydos
I keep meaning to have a clean-out of the ‘My Documents’ folder on my hard drive. I’m glad I haven’t got around to it, for, sometimes, I run out of ideas for blog posts. However, there’s always a plethora of unpublished stories to draw from, and here’s one of them …

Assem’s Story

A good tour guide instinctively realises when he’s telling his clients more about his pet subjects that they really want to know. An excellent guide can leaven his presentations with humour, and leave his listeners eager for more.

Assem, an Egyptian guide, was no exception. Like most of the guides on Nile cruise boats, he was a highly-qualified Egyptologist, but never failed to amuse and interest with some of his stories. His speciality was to claim that the Ancient Egyptians invented absolutely everything, and show us carvings in the temples as somewhat dubious proof. For instance, a carving of dancing girls with tambourines ‘proved’ that they used to play basketball. His version of how the Egyptians invented the Internet really deserves to be told.

Assem had noted that our party contained a surgeon, a doctor and several nurses. So, he thought that it would be of interest if he showed us a carving in the Temple of Horus at Edfu, which depicted an Ancient Egyptian surgeon at work.

The medical people agreed that the surgeon did appear to be using some instruments not dissimilar in principle with those used today. In fact, one nurse said that what Assem described as ‘bags of herbs’ on a shelf looked exactly like sample bottles!

Then, we were told how the Ancient Egyptians did the research for their medical
text-books. When they came upon a disease or illness new to them, a physician and a scribe would carry the patient to the nearest cross-roads. Then, they would stop travellers who came by.

“Have you seen anything like this where you’re from?” they would ask. “How do you deal with it?”

Maybe they would get information; or they might get something like:

“My friend is a physician. I’ll ask him when I get home, and send a message to you.” or:
“I’ll ask when I get to Thebes, and, if I find anything out, I’ll tell you on my way back.”

The scribe would write down all the information they received. When they had enough, they would try them all out on the patient, and the method which worked best (assuming that the patient hadn’t died from one of the other remedies) would eventually go into the text-books.

That, said Assem, was how the Ancient Egyptians invented the Internet … or, would have done, if they hadn’t had to wait 4000 years for someone to invent the computer!



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