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The First English Translation of the Ebers Papyrus

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Main contributors
Halverson, Colin M.E.; Hartsock, Jane A.
Lecture delivered by Colin Halverson, PhD (Faculty Investigator, Indiana University Center for Bioethics) and Jane Hartsock, JD, MA (Director of the Department of Clinical and Organizational Ethics, Indiana University Health) on March 1, 2023. While the Ebers Papyrus is famous as one of the oldest and most complete contemporary perspectives on ancient Egyptian healing practices, little has yet been said about the biography of its first English-language translator, Dr. Carl H. von Klein. Von Klein, a German immigrant and surgeon in the American Midwest, and his linguist daughter Edith Zitelmann spent twenty-some years meticulously translating and annotating the papyrus, but the manuscript was ultimately destroyed. In this talk, Hartsock and Halverson examine the convoluted and dramatic history of the Ebers Papyrus and its “rediscovery” by Edwin Smith, and discuss the equally convoluted and dramatic societal- and personal-scale forces that thwarted von Klein and Zitelmann’s efforts to translate it.

This event was sponsored by the John Shaw Billings History of Medicine Society, IU School of Medicine History of Medicine Student Interest Group, IUPUI Medical Humanities & Health Studies Program, and the Ruth Lilly Medical Library. 
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
Educational; History
History of Medicine; Egyptology; Medicine, Egyptian; Manuscripts, Medical; Ebers Papyrus; Klein, Carl H. von
History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Lectures
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
Rights Statement
In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
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Venue/Event Date

Recorded at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library (975 W. Walnut Street, Indianapolis, IN) on March 1, 2023.

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This item is accessible by: the public.