Treatment by Medicine and Magic in Coptic Texts – “A Linguistic and Cultural study”

Table of Contents


Author: Mona Sawy
Publication Date: 2022
Publication Place: Goettingen (Germany)

PhD Dissertation, 400 pages

Open Access
License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0



This thesis examines the evidence for healing practices in the Post-pharaonic and Early Islamic periods in Egypt. It uses all Coptic medical and magico-medical sources in the IV-XI centuries CE. This thesis investigates the healing methods from various evidence: Coptic medical and pharmaceutical texts, Coptic magico-medical texts, private letters, legal documents and literary sources.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to this study. Chapter 2 offers detailed data on all medical sources, which constitute the main source of knowledge in term of diseases and methods of treatment. Chapter 3 examines all remedies applications and the use of each type. This chapter also examines the components and the effectiveness of each remedy with particular focus on the formulae in remedy use. Chapter 4 explains units of weights and measurements of drugs. This chapter also describes the various dry and liquid measure and the common abbreviations for each measurement. Chapter 5 provides a synoptic outline of all medical prescriptions and disorders that affected the human body. This chapter focuses on the symptoms and the diseases of the affected organs. It presents an overview of the surgical interventions, anatomy and physiology through the medical recipes. Chapter 6 affords an in-depth study of the use of magic as a method of healing. It begins with a discussion on the concept of magic and a general overview of Ancient Egyptian magic, and the relationship between magic and religion. This chapter deals with various categories of healing, ritual texts such as ritual manuals, amulets and prayers, in particular with regard to the diseases that were treated by magical procedures. Chapter 7 examines the different and unusual ingredients in medical recipes. Chapter 8 explains the monastic medical care system, and the healthcare institutions, with special attention given to the earliest monastic illnesses and healing writings such as the archives of the Monastery of Hathor’s private letters, the letters of Pachomius, and the letters of Antony; in addition, the miraculous healing which took place in specific monasteries in Late Antique Egypt. Chapter 9 discusses the main medical professions and practitioners who are presented in medical sources and were involved in the medical care process. Chapter 10 summarises the main research findings of the study.