3,500-year-old texts reveal ancient Egypt's unique pregnancy test

Egypt history Pixabay

Now we have several kinds of tests and tools to know whether a woman is pregnant or not. But, have you ever imagined that how ancient people used to do the pregnancy confirmation tests without the help of modern technology? Yes, it is right that such tests used to take place during those days also and 3,500-years-old texts have testified that Egyptian people had a unique pregnancy test.

There are several proofs that show the advancement of medical science in ancient days. In terms of the ancient pregnancy test, the texts on papyrus, between 1500 and 1300 BC, are instructions written for women, who were asked to empty their bladders into a bag of barley and a bag of emmer, which is a type of wheat to see the reaction, which would reveal whether the woman was pregnant or not.

The translated version of the texts stated that if they grow that means the woman is pregnant. In addition, the texts said that if the barley grows that means the woman is going to give birth to a boy and if the emmer grows that means it will be a baby girl. But, if none of the corps grows then it will mean that the woman is not pregnant. However, there were some different pregnancy tests but those were not very reliable.

As per the reports from CNN, these age-old texts are the rare sample of Egyptian scientific knowledge. There are a few more medical writings which have not yet been translated.

The head of the Carlsberg papyrus collection which owns the text, Kim Ryholt said, "We're dealing with the kind of material that is so incredibly rare". He also added that these texts are damaged. They are written in an ancient script that few people can read, and the terminology is immensely complex. There are less than a dozen well-preserved ancient Egyptian medical papyri... Anything new will shed important new light."

Sofie Schiødt, one of the PhD students, who analyzed the texts said that evidence of same tests has been found "in Greek and Roman medicine, in the Middle East during the Middle Ages, and European medical traditions," and as per a book of German folklore the tests appear as late as 1699.

She added, "Ancient travellers to Egypt were amazed at the fact that there were doctors specializing in particular areas of medicine and their knowledge was praised. As the pregnancy test shows, it is clear that certain techniques found their ways beyond the shores of the Nile."

But, when Schiødt was asked whether ancient medical experts knew about hormones in urine he clearly said they did not. In addition, she said, "any idea of hormonal influences is completely non-existent," but she said that the test's accuracy is probably down to trial and error.

Reports stated that recently some researchers stated that the ancient Egyptian embalming methods were used 1500-years earlier than previously thought. In Augusts, the tests on 'Turin Mummy', which dates to between 3700 and 3500 BC, have revealed that the mummy had undergone an embalming process.