Abortion is as old as pregnancy. The abortion techniques and methods were very extreme. These methods were most of the time harmful for the woman. Some of these methods are still in practice around the world.

The ancient Egyptians practiced birth control and abortion and have a long medical history. It is one of the oldest medical practices, evidence of which dates back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece.  Around 1550 B.C. ancient Egypt Abortion techniques used by Egyptian pharaohs were documented in the ancient Ebers Papyrus.

Georg Ebers

The Ebers Papyrus is one of the oldest surviving document on medical practice. It was purchased by Georg Ebers in mid 1800s. Ebers Papyrus contain details on different diseases including the now extinct diseases.

There is evidence that suggests many civilizations in history, from the Egyptians to the ancient Romans Persians and Greeks, would have practiced Abortion during their respective eras. Although abortion is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible, there are conversations in history about its prevalent techniques and practices.

Ancient Egypt abortion methods

The Ebers Papyrus

Abortion in ancient times was not as simple as it is now. Although, the rules and traditions around the female fertility has not changed much through the ages. The Ebers Papyrus and Kahun Gynaecological papyrus are the oldest surviving documents on female fertility.

According to Ebers Papyrus, an abortion could be induced with the use of a plant-fiber tampon coated with a compound that included honey and crushed dates. Subsequent herbal abortifacients included the long-extinct Silphium. The Silphium and Pennyroyal were the most prized medicinal plants of the ancient world, sometimes used in today’s time to induce abortions. However, they are highly toxic and not considered safe.

ancient egypt abortion

As the papyrus document suggests, unspecified amounts of acacia gum, dates, and an unidentified plant were mixed with plant fiber and honey and formed into a peccary (vaginal suppository).

The Egyptians recognized some of the procreative relationships among the testis, phallus, semen, and pregnancy. They regarded the man’s contribution as a ‘seed’ that he planted in the fertile ground provided by the uterus. Semen was believed to originate in the spinal cord. The lowest extension of the vertebral column was called the sacrum because it was believed to be a sacred bone.

Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus

Kahun papyrus Survived in fragments but it provides valuable information on Egyptian Gynaecological knowledge. This work is divide into 34 fragmented paragraphs. The structure of the paragraphs is the process of examination of disease that is, inspection, conclusion and treatment. The gynaecological diseases mentioned in the papyrus are somehow connected to the organs such as eyes, teeth and bones etc. The treatments are also very interesting which includes fumigation, massage, drinking asses milk or eating its liver. The list is endless. Although, there is no mention of a surgery in the document.

Modern Approach

Abortion induced by herbs or manipulation was used as a form of birth control in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and probably earlier. It was only in the 19th century that opinion about abortion underwent a change.

Modern researchers have found Acacias to be spermicidal. Scarring and pitting of bones in the pelvic region provided scholars further clues to the number of full-term pregnancies amongst skeletal remains from prehistoric times. Demographic research, laboratory studies, and scrutiny of ancient texts have given them new hints concerning the efficacy of ancient ‘family planning.’