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Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(1):187-90. Epub 2006 Mar 2.

Six medical papyri describe the effects of Santorini's volcanic ash, and provide Egyptian parallels to the so-called biblical plagues.

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Six medical papyri document how Santorini's volcanic ash from the Bronze Age biphasic eruption, otherwise attested by material retrieved at the bottom of lakes at the edge of the Nile Delta, severely affected the health of the inhabitants of Egypt as well as their society as a whole. Treatments for burns caused by particulate and dissolved acids are documented in the London Medical Papyrus as well as in the Ebers Papyrus, and are compatible with ash fallout and ash in rain, respectively. Furthermore, both instances of ash correlate to the first eight biblical plagues. Moreover, the latter text also presents a series of ailments coherent with serious inhalation of toxic substances in aerosol form. This scenario is confirmed by the Hearst Medical Papyrus, the Carlsberg Papyrus 8, and the Ramesseum Papyrus III, and fits a volcanic plume, which is also coherent with the ninth biblical plague of palpable obscurity as well as Santorini's second phase of its Bronze Age eruption. Finally, a sixth contemporary medical text, the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, a manual to practice on wounded soldiers, supplies an insight into the collapse of the sociopolitical system of the time. The text appears to provide an insight into the sociopolitical climate in the aftermath of the Santorini eruption, possibly describing conditions that would have led to the tenth and final biblical plague of the massacre of firstborn as well as the escape of slaves from local labor camps.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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