The Oldest Medical Textbook In The World Is About The Vagina

It turns out we’ve had information to hand about the vagina for a very long time.

The burial mask of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun First discovered in Egypt Image Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Egypt is a mysterious place, full of any number of wonders and strange, ancient artefacts.

Yet for all the acclaim many of these monuments to a forgone time garner, one particular piece of history often gets overlooked.

Dating back to around 1800, the Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus stands as the oldest medical text of any kind in the world.

But what makes it all the more unusual is that it deals primarily with women’s health – something that must have surprised many of the male-dominated archaeological teams of time.

Topics include pregnancy, contraception, fertility and other gynecological issues.

By contrast, you would imagine that a similar text focusing on the penis would include a maximum of three entries at best.

First discovered in El-Lahun, Faiyum, Egypt by Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, it was first translated in 1893, and is broken into 34 distinct sections.

Each deals with a specific medical issue and includes both a diagnosis and treatment, usually non-surgical and involving the application of medicines often in the form of oils and incense.

A mysterious relic of sorts, the document stands as a testament to some of the progressive approaches seen in Egyptian times.

Available to view in London, the document is currently on display in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at the University College London.

So if you fancy witnessing the earliest record of the vagina, in the flesh as it were, head to UCL.

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