Bronze surgical knives, Egypt and Mesopotamia, c 600-200 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Knives like these may have been used to remove organs during the proces of mummification. Written records of medical practice in this area show that Egypt was considered a centre of medical excellence at the time. Very few surgical tools remain from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, although stone pictures as early as 3000 BC show knives, forceps, probes and cautery irons.