The ancient Egyptians, like their modern counterparts, suffered from eye diseases called ophthalmias that could lead to blindness. Because ophthalmias are transmitted by flies, they occur primarily in the summer when the insects are most abundant in Egypt.
This box belonged to a physician who treated seasonal eye diseases. Each of the three compartments contained a powder for one of the seasons of the Egyptian year—winter, "inundation" (flood), and summer. The hieroglyphs on the exterior state that the summer powder remedied "running ophthalmia."
- Medium: Wood (ebony?)
- Place Made: Egypt
- Dates: ca. 1938-1700 B.C.E. or later
- Dynasty: XII Dynasty-early XIII Dynasty
- Period: Middle Kingdom
- Dimensions: 2 1/16 x 2 15/16 x 1 1/4 in. (5.3 x 7.5 x 3.1 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
- Museum Location: This item is on view in Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
- Accession Number: 16.77
- Credit Line: Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour
- Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
- Caption: Physician's Box, ca. 1938-1700 B.C.E. or later. Wood (ebony?), 2 1/16 x 2 15/16 x 1 1/4 in. (5.3 x 7.5 x 3.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour, 16.77. Creative Commons-BY
- Catalogue Description: Oblong wooden (?ebony) box cut from single block with three cylindrical hollows for eye ointment. Inscribed on one side in three columns, each headed with name of season and function of contents (eye medicines). Reverse inscribed in three lines, partly lost, for “…the chief of physicians, … S3-wady.t, repeating life.” Condition: Poor. Cover lost. Wood split. Surface with owner’s name and titles badly broken. Each hollow retains some of original contents.
- Record Completeness: Best (82%)