Lecture: Botanical Drug Use (and Abuse) of the Ancient Egyptians

Botanical Drug Use (and Abuse) of the Ancient Egyptians

Date: 7:30 – 9:00pm, 13-Apr-2012

Cost: Meetings are Free to members, Guests $5 – Students with ID $2


Certain plants and trees were considered sacred in Egyptian religion and myth. Yet, uncertainty surrounds the actual identity of some specimens, both by the Ancient Egyptians themselves and by modern researchers.  For example, is the Book of the Dead’s most secret Ished tree: balanites or persea? Heavy consumption of desirable botanicals no doubt played a role in the use and abuse of Egyptian plants. With emphasis on the more sinister or nefarious botany which affected insect, fish, ungulates and people alike, this talk will look at the surreal plant reliefs of Thutmose III’s ‘Botanical Garden’ in Karnak Temple.  As well, the likely plants Helen of Troy would have obtained from Egypt will be speculated upon. Further speculation of Egypt’s role in the extinction of sylphium, and the fashion of poisonous figs in the reign of Cleopatra will be entertained.

About the speaker:

Following 2 years part-time study at the Wellcome Institute in the History of Medicine, and a B.Sc. in Archaeological Sciences, Roz Park has maintained an avid interest in Ancient Egyptian medicine. For a while, she was working on a combined UK/Israel M.Sc. project on the ‘Balm of Gilead’ – the famous all-heal medicine and perfume of the Bible, before unfortunate events switched her studies to Egyptian astronomy. This culminated in her definitive dating of the Dendara Zodiac in her M.A. dissertation (2004).


Room EDC 287 in the Education Block at the University of Calgary.


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