First Known Description of Diabetes Symptoms, Found on Egyptian Papyrus by Physician Hesy-Ra

Hesy-Ra, alt. Hesire, was an official, physician, possibly the first known in history, and scribe who lived during the Third dynasty of Egypt, served under the pharaoh Djoser, and who was buried in an elaborate tomb at Saqqara.

He bore titles such as "Chief of Dentists and Physicians" and "Chief of the King's Scribes."

Hesy-ra appears to have been renowned for his skill as a dentist and is thought by some to have recognized diabetes and polyuria.

Hesy-ra’s primary role in ancient Egypt seems to have been that of a Doctor. As the "Chief of Dentists and Physicians," he dealt with Egypt’s rather advanced medical pursuits. (West, pg. 210) With the idea of ‘ancient’ civilizations, images are sometimes conjured of a general lack of control over the afflictions of the flesh. Ancient Egypt, however, seems to have had a fairly decent understanding of the human body. In Greek times, the Egyptians’ medical knowledge was well reputed, specializing in various areas of the body such as the feet, eyes, teeth, belly, and head. (Michaels, pg. 232) These practitioners died with splendid tombs, showing Egypt’s appreciation of the healing arts. Hesy-ra, well known for his dental proficiency, was also one of the earliest to hint at some form of Diabetes. A papyrus record mentions Hesy-ra’s recognition of a symptom of Diabetes, polyuria, or frequent urination. (CDA)