Writing and Medicine Started Here

Cape Times (South Africa), August 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

Writing and Medicine Started Here


BYLINE: Christine Qunta

There appears to be scientific consensus that Africa is the birthplace of humanity. No doubt this fact is interesting. It remains, however, an accident of geography.

What is far more significant and worth celebrating is that Africans were the creators of the world's first great civilisation during antiquity in ancient Egypt. Africans in Egypt invented the first writing system in the history of humanity. They invented hieroglyphic writing which, by 4000BC, was already in use.

The Egyptians taught writing to the Phoenicians, who later transmitted it in alphabetical form to Greece, which in turn passed it on to the Romans, and it became the script that is used by the Western world up to today.

The ancient Egyptians were not the only people on the continent who invented systems of writings. The Mundar people of west Africa, who in ancient times were concentrated in the Western Sahara, developed several types of scripts, the earliest which has been dated back to 3000BC. A hieroglyphic writing called njoya exists in Cameroon.

During antiquity, the Akan people, now located in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, developed an ancient writing system which survives in what is today called Ashanti Gold weights. An Ivorian professor, Niangoran Bouah, in his book Sankofa, identified 135 symbols which provide a basis for deciphering the script.

In addition, the treasure of manuscripts found in ancient libraries in Timbuktu, Mali, detailing the knowledge of the sciences, philosophy and law clearly illustrates that the notion African societies were primarily oral societies is not based on historical fact.

Insofar as medicine is concerned, Africans across the continent had an extensive knowledge of herbal medicine. African traditional doctors also had a good understanding of the physiology of the human body and used surgical methods long before they came into contact with any Western people.

An African doctor in Uganda performed a caesarian section in 1879. This operation was observed and described in detail by a missionary named Felkin.

A full account of this operation is contained in an essay by Charles S Finch in the book edited by Ivan van Sertima titled Blacks in Science.

The real father of medicine comes from Egypt and was called Imhotep. He lived in Egypt around 2980BC. As a member of the royal court he was grand vizier, chief architect and royal physician and priest. He designed the step pyramid of Saqqara, which is the oldest monument of hewn stone in the world.

Surviving medical texts show that the Egyptians were the first people in the world that had knowledge of the brain and described it in detail. Already during the third millennium BC, the Egyptians knew that the brain, as well as the spine, was the source of control of movements of the body. They had about 4 000 years of experience of dissecting and bandaging mummies, and this very directly contributed to their advanced surgical technique.

Egyptian medical knowledge deeply influenced Western medicine through the impact that it had on Greek medicine. Several Greek philosophers studied in Egypt and took their knowledge back to Greece. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Writing and Medicine Started Here
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.