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Judging from existing archaeological evidence the dentistry of antiquity can be divided into three groups. Group I would seem to consist of the therapeutic or purely medical methods of combatting dental affections. Group II would seem to combine mechanical means of treatment with the earlier and purely medical treatments of group I. This mechanical method characteristic of Group II will be called for convenience retentive prosthesis, or that type of dental art which has for its object the retaining of natural dental organs when the ravages of disease would otherwise have caused their loss. Group III is the highest stage of development reached in ancient dentistry : a definite_improvement over Groups I and II, since it introduces true dental prosthesis, that is, the art of applying artificial substitutes for lost dental organs.

It is agreed that the oldest of those civilizations which knew something of dentistry was Egypt. The earliest indication of any such knowledge in Egypt is found in the so-called Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, recently interpreted by Dr. Breasted, the Director of the Oriental Institute of Chicago, and by him dated in tile 17th century B.C., even if the original author's first manuscript was produced at least a thousand years earlier, between 2500 and 3000 B.c.(l) It contains detailed directions for the treatment of wounds about the mouth, but no mention is made of restoring lost teeth resulting from these or similar injuries. The hard tissues of the mouth were in general considered untreatable, if we are to judge from a case report from the above Papyrus in which a fracture of the mandible is described. In closing his discussion this ancient Egyptian surgeon says: "One having a fracture of the mandible over which a wound has been inflicted and lie has fever from it, it is an ailment not to be treated."(2) The surgery mentioned in this papyrus was most likely the war-time surgery of a physician who was following an army. In times of peace, however, it is reasonable to believe that many minor dental ills were treated.

In a mandible of an Egyptian from the Old Kingdom (3000-2500 B.C.) described by Hootin,(3) we have evidence of minor oral surgery, and in a later papyrus dating, it is believed, from 1550 B.C.'(4) We find many prescriptions for dental maladies, but in all the ancient Egyptian medical and dental Writings no mention is made of mechanical dental appliances.

Schmidt, Virshow, Mummery'(5) and other competent authorities on ancient Egyptian mummies find no trace of restorative dental art among the Egyptians,

1. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, Uni Old Empire, Harvard African Studies, pl. i, University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Publication vol. iii, p. xiv-xv and p. 29.
2. Op. cit. vol. L p. 301, case report no. 24.
3. Hootin, Oral Surgery in Egypt during the
    Old empire, Harvard African Studies, pl. i, fig. 1.
4. Papyrus Ebers.
5. Geist-Jacobi, Geschichte der Zahnheilkunde, p. 9.

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