I remember hearing recently that new research has suggested that the ancient Egyptians did not view the brain as a useless organ, and had a reason for disposing of it in the manner they did. I can't find references to this online, and am wondering if anyone on here knows about the validity or otherwise of this idea.

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    I cannot give you a source but I believe that they thought the brain was there to cool the body down. So fevers were the result of the brain not working properly thus adding cold compressed would kick start it again. Nov 12, 2011 at 12:18
  • Source for the brain being important, please? Nov 2, 2018 at 17:02

3 Answers 3


The reason to remove the brain wasn't because it was "useless", but because it was among the first tissues to decay. From http://si.edu/encyclopedia_si/nmnh/mummies.htm

The first step in the process was the removal of all internal parts that might decay rapidly. The brain was removed by carefully inserting special hooked instruments up through the nostrils in order to pull out bits of brain tissue.


Old Kingdom medical texts speak of the brain having hemispheres and being enclosed in a membrane; the ancient Egyptians also performed (successful) brain surgery

The brain makes mucous (so there was no need to preserve it on the basis of that function) the HEART is the seat of life, thinking, being...

I refer you to this Mummification Processes in relation to the Human Brain and Heart


The ancient Egyptians did not recognize it as the hub of a person's thoughts. They believed the heart did that job rather than the brain. They wrapped the heart carefully before putting it back in the mummy's body, as they believed the person would need it to get through the Underworld to the Afterlife.

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    Do you have a source for that information?
    – IQAndreas
    Aug 5, 2015 at 11:14
  • I have certainly read that various ancient scientists/philosophers did not see the brain as being connected to thought and one would wonder why given that head injury would affect cognition. However, perhaps head injury tended to result in death or they attributed the impairment in cognition to secondary effects of brain injury, like the cooling of the blood (as Aristotle thought) might be necessary for clear thinking/memory.
    – Jeff
    Sep 12, 2017 at 19:13

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