Wrote a bit on whether or not Egypt practiced circumcision. They did, but to an unknown extent. Seems like something that was done in royal circles at certain times, but it’s not really widely recorded. It also seems to have been something that was done in adulthood rather than in childhood as something of a rite of passage into manhood. It may, I suppose, work in to the Egyptian concept of personal cleanliness: the elites (especially priests) would shave all or most of their body hair, which would cut down on the hair-related parasites (like lice), and also were regular bathers. Hence, perhaps they had some idea that circumcision cut down on the infection rate for STDs (it reduces the risk of contracting HIV by something like 60%). But. . . .I dunno. Hard to tell if they could make a connection like that. And I’m not entirely certain that the potential improvement in reproductive fitness that might result would really have an impact. Still, interesting little topic. Seems to have been present in Archaic times, well before the rise of the Egyptian state.
March 30, 2012
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