The Ebers Papyrus, the world’s oldest medical manual, takes us back to ancient Egypt and to the turbulent times in the late 19th century, when the Western world was obsessed with finding oriental treasures.

The film tells of the discovery of the world’s oldest medical manual. Georg Ebers, a German Egyptologist, came upon the 3,500-year-old work in Luxor in the late nineteenth century and carried it back with him to Saxony in a spectacular manner. The book contains more than 800 formulas, along with clinical pictures and texts for medical education, making it an invaluable find. For the first time, we can learn of how Egyptian healers conceived of human life and health almost four thousand years ago. This unique amalgam of empirical knowledge, religion and magic was set down on a papyrus scroll almost twenty metres long. The documentary also sheds light on the outstanding historical significance of papyrus as a writing material. For thousands of years, papyri recorded the cultural developments in the country, preserving the changing relations between Orient and Occident for posterity. The film also recounts the orientalism hype that gripped the West in the nineteenth century and the often illegal hunt for ancient trophies in the land of the Pharaohs. European and African experts are today engaging in an international dialogue in an attempt to advance our knowledge of both the writing medium of papyrus and the development of the art of healing.