Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Doctor's Waiting Room-Ancient Egypt

Physicians make lousy patients.  So we try to avoid the medical and dental systems whenever possible.  It's really just best for all concerned.  But every once in a while exceptions must be made, and I have actually had to spend a little time in the dreaded Waiting Room of late.

Back in my clinic days I would amble about after hours, doing dictation with a hand held recorder when all the patients had left.  I would wander through the Waiting Room, culling out stuff that should not be there.  All kinds of things would sneak in, religious tracts and so forth.  Pharmaceutical reps were notorius for stuffing the magazine racks with disguised advertisements.  Really, the last thing you want a patient to be clutching in their hand when they are called back is a glossy "Scrofula Today" publication that extols to high heaven the virtues of a spiffy new drug that is ten times more expensive than the standard treatment but has little to no advantage.

What is left after the culling was bland stuff.  Newsweek when it was a real magazine.  Highlights for Children.  Whatever publications the local high school band kids are hawking at a ludicrous discount as part of their fund raising ventures.

And things have not changed all that much.  Here are a few pictures I took under very adverse photographic conditions at the Egyptian temple of  Kom Ombo.  One half of the temple was dedicated to Haroesis, "The Good Doctor", and our guide assured us that the paved hallway where I took these shots on a brilliantly sunny day was the area where the ill would wait to see the priests, who would hopefully heal them.*

Hopefully, as my reading suggests Egyptian medicine was a little heavy on the therapeutic use of crocodile dung.

It is assumed that those patiently waiting were there long enough to carve this graffiti.

Lets hope this fellow was there to get a mole looked at.  If he actually had a hole in his lower chest ancient treatment would have a low probability of success.

A reminder that a good stretch of Egyptian history was under Ptolemeic, Roman or Byzantine rule.  Kom Ombro for instance is mostly of Roman vintage. So the official language would have been Greek.  I assume an early pharmaceutical rep carved this.  Does it say "Kofu's Celebrated Dung for Scrofula"?

Abe Lincoln with a dueling sword?  Or if you look at it another way, somebody balancing a pitcher on their head.  Maybe it is Serapis, although his usual headgear does not seem to feature a handle.

Ah, but this one I recognized right away!

Why, its the Trojan Rabbit from Monty Python's Holy Grail!
*The attribution of Kom Ombro as a place of healing rests heavily on the interpretation of a carving that appears to show the emperor Trajan, in his role as "pharoah", presenting a set of surgical implements to the god Haroersis.  Haroesis was a manifestation of Horus, the Romans being big on this sort of multiple versions of established deities.


Borepatch said...

Graffiti is a very odd window into the soul of the illiterate.

Anonymous said...