Aaa disease - Aaa-Krankheit

Aaa disease in hieroglyphics
G1 D36


The aaa's disease is not yet clearly identified disease in several medical papyri of ancient Egypt is described. It leads to general abdominal pain, but can also cause heart or stomach ailments. The Ebers and Hearst Papyrus are dedicated to her entire recipe collections. A few remarks about the aaa disease can also be found in the Papyrus Berlin and Papyrus London .

Wolfhart Westendorf translates aaa as "poison seeds" and classifies it as one of the demonic diseases that are caused by one of the demon gods or spirits of the dead. More precisely, the poison seed is a substance that can be responsible for various diseases. In the belief of the Egyptians, the substance is smuggled into the body of the person affected by an incubus at night , which is why many remedies had to be taken immediately before sleep. [1]


Most of the recipes are ingestion or stimulation drinks, i.e. means for internal treatment. Some give instructions on how to smoke. The typical components usually include plants, leaves and fruits, in particular plant and fruit seeds are used. Among the plants, the shames plant is mentioned above all, which may be pyrethrum . Also, honey , milk , sweet porridge or sweet fruits like figs or grapes are found as prescription substances. Some remedies are accompanied by spells . [2]

Seth , who can appear in donkey form, is often seen as the cause of the disease. A magical cure from the London Papyrus provides for the formation of a donkey phallus from cake batter, which is wrapped in fatty meat and thrown to the house cat to eat. Due to the magical equation of the house cat with the goddess Mafdet , the source of the disease is symbolically suspended by this process of destruction. [3]

Identification with schistosomiasis

Heinrich Brugsch tried in 1853 to translate the term aaa as "deadly divine suffering". In 1937, Bendix Ebbell suspected that this word, determined by a phallus running out , could be hematuria (blood urine). In 1944, the Belgian doctor Frans Jonckheere extended the translation to parasitic hematuria , a symptom that still occurs in schistosomiasis in modern Egypt . [4]

Schistosomiasis was a widespread disease in Egypt until the early twentieth century. It has so far been proven in some mummies and unmummified corpses, [5] at the same time various symptoms of it seem to be depicted on some tomb paintings. One of the two most common pathogens in Egypt from the genus of the pair of leeches ( Schistosoma , formerly Bilharzia ) is the Schistosoma haematobium , which affects the bladder system and produces blood urine . The other form is Schistosoma mansoni , which is found in the intestineSystem and leads to inflammation with bleeding, diarrhea or enlargement of internal organs. Both symptoms, i.e. blood urine and bowel disease, are dealt with in various ancient Egyptian medical texts. [6]

A hint for equating aaa with schistosomiasis can possibly be found in the 62nd recipe of the Ebers papyrus , in which the aaa substance is named as the cause of stomach worms:

“Another useful remedy than something that is made for the stomach: reed 1, Schames plant 1, grind finely, boil with honey, eaten by a man who has worms in his stomach. It is the aaa toxin that created it (the worm). It cannot die by any other cure. "

Papyrus Ebers 62(19,11 – 19,19)[7]

The hereret worm that appears in this text has not yet been clearly identified. It could be a pair of leeches, also known as the Nile worm, which is considered to be the pathogen causing schistosomiasis. However, it is doubtful whether the microscopic Nile worm [8] was even visible to the ancients without further help. [4] [6] In addition, there is no medical text in which aaa occurs together with the previously known term for blood urine ( wesesch senef ) or in connection with the urinary bladder. [9]

See also


  • Heinrich Brugsch : Mémoire sur la médecine de l'Ancienne Égypte . In: General monthly for science and literature . 1853, p. 44–56.
  • Bendix Ebbell : The Egyptian names of diseases . In: Journal for Egyptian Language and Antiquity . tape 62, 1927, S. 13–20, yesterday S. 16–18 .
  • Frans Jonckheere : An Egyptian Disease Parasitic Hematuria (= Egyptian Medicine . Band 1 ). Queen Elizabeth Egyptian Foundation, Brüssel 1944.
  • Hildegard von Deines, Wolfhart Westendorf : Dictionary of medical texts: 3 - r (= outline of the medicine of the ancient Egyptians . Volume 7 , No. 1). Band 1 . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1961, p. 129–133.
  • Renate Germer: The secret of the mummies (= rororo. Rororo non-fiction book . Volume 9357 ). Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-499-19357-4 , p. 140–142.
  • John F. Nunn: Ancient Egyptian Medicine. The British Museum Press, London 1996, ISBN 0-7141-1906-7, S. 63, 68–69.
  • Wolfhart Westendorf : Handbook of Ancient Egyptian Medicine (= Handbook of Oriental Studies. Department 1: The Near and Middle East . Volume 36). Band 1 . Brill, Leiden ua 1999, ISBN 90-04-11320-7 , S. 361–366, 469–471.


  1. ^ W. Westendorf: Handbook of ancient Egyptian medicine . Leiden et al. 1999, p. 361.
  2. ^ W. Westendorf: Handbook of ancient Egyptian medicine . Leiden et al. 1999, p. 362–366.
  3. ^ W. Westendorf: Awakening the healing art. Medicine in ancient Egypt . Artemis & Winkler, Zurich 1992, ISBN 3-7608-1072-1 , p. 23.
  4. a b John F. Nunn: Ancient Egyptian Medicine. London 1996, S. 63.
  5. R. Germer: The secret of the mummies . Reinbek 1994, p. 142.
  6. ^ A b W. Westendorf: Handbook of ancient Egyptian medicine . Leiden et al. 1999, p. 469–471.
  7. Ebers Papyrus, Section 2, Column XIX., accessed on August 15, 2017 .
  8. The pair of leeches penetrate the human body as cercariae and at this stage is only 0.3 to 0.6 mm long. Bernhard Peter: Schistosomiasis as a motion sickness., 2004, accessed on February 5, 2014 .
  9. W. Westendorf, Hildegard von Deines: Dictionary of medical texts (= outline of the medicine of the ancient Egyptians . Volume 7). Band 1 . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1961, p. 132.