Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Egyptian

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 21 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4712
  1. Pertti Saloheimo, private practitioner
  1. 1Diacor terveyspalvelyt Oy, Leppävaarankatu 7A, 02600 Espoo, Finland
  1. pertti.saloheimo{at}

In The Egyptian, the Finnish author Mika Waltari (1908-1979) brings to life the dust, sounds, and smells of ancient Egypt and the Middle East. This novel describes the life of Sinuhe, an Egyptian physician in 14 BC, and the accuracy of the medical and historical facts has been acknowledged by historians.

Sinuhe’s father is a physician for the poor, and Sinuhe assists him from a young age. While learning medicine, Sinuhe helps in trepanations, which are described in detail: “By means of bore, saw, and forceps he removed a piece of skull as large as the palm of one’s hand and then showed us how clotted blood …

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