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Ancient circumcision

Ancient circumcision

E905/0048

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Ancient circumcision. Carving on the tomb at Saqqara, Egypt, showing the circumcision of two puberty-aged males. Carved around 2600 B.C., it is the earliest known illustration of surgery. At lower left, a mortuary priest squats on his haunches whilst an assistant firmly holds the hands of the youth. The priest holds the youth's penis in one hand and a circular flint in the other. Above the three men is hieroglyphic writing. The hieroglyphics explain that the priest is instructing the assistant to keep the young man still and not let him faint. Although the image seems to show two youths, it may also represent two stages of the circumcision rite.

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