Here’s how women in Ancient Egypt did pregnancy tests 3,500 years ago

Hieroglyphic instructions told women how they can find out if they were pregnant by peeing into a bag of barley. (File photo: AP)

The Ancient Egyptians have made groundbreaking discoveries that are vital to modern day life, things that we may take for granted today, including calendars and clocks. But a recent bizarre discovery of an Ancient Egyptian text showed how women did pregnancy tests 3,500 years ago!

A papyrus from Ancient Egypt showed hieroglyphic instructions on how women can find out if they were pregnant or not by peeing into a bag of barley and a bag of emmer, (a wheat variety cultivated in ancient Egypt at the time).

A researcher at the University of Copenhagen studying the document said that the writing on the papyrus read: “If they grow, she will give birth. If the barley grows, it is a boy. If the emmer grows, it is a girl. If they do not grow, she will not give birth.” CNN reported that the text dated back to between 1500 and 1300 BC.

This discovery is one of many papyri belonging to the University of Copenhagen with a number of medical texts from the time.

“We’re dealing with the kind of material that is so incredibly rare,” Egyptologist Kim Ryholt, head of the Carlsberg papyrus collection and part of the international research collaboration translating the texts told CNN. “There’s less than a dozen well-preserved ancient Egyptian medical papyri... Anything new will shed important new light.”

Experts added that this pregnancy test method was used in Greek and Roman medicine, and also found in European medical traditions.

CNN reported that researchers tested the theory in 1963 and found that in 70% of the cases, the urine of pregnant women did cause the grain to sprout.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
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