Medicine

The World’s First Known Pregnancy Test

Only waiting for nine months was more accurate

Ancient Egyptian women used barley and wheat to determine pregnancy (Image of women:thecollector.com and image of wheat: Melissa Askew on Unsplash )

It was as useful for women in antiquity to know whether they were pregnant or not as it is today.

Egyptian pyramids (Image: smithsonianjourneys.org)

From a modern perspective, the Egyptian pregnancy test was super weird.

The test required a woman to pee daily on barley and wheat seeds. If the barley grew, it would be a boy; the wheat, a girl; if neither plant sprouted, the woman was not pregnant.

Christian Franz Paullini’s Dreck-Apotheke (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Modern science (Photo by Julia Koblitz on Unsplash)

Modern science confirmed peeing on barley or wheat correctly determines pregnancy in seventy percent of cases.

In seventy percent of cases, the urine of pregnant women encouraged sprouting of barley and wheat seeds. No growth occurred with urine from non-pregnant women or urine from men.

Onions (Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash)

The ancient Egyptian women could choose among a big variety of pregnancy tests.

Each of the below-listed pregnancy tests has some scientific explanation that proves how extremely accurate observers of nature were the ancient Egyptians.

Onion test

A woman had to place an onion deep in her vagina before going to bed. If in the morning, her breath smelled of the onion, she was pregnant.

Grease test

In the evening, the doctor would anoint a woman’s nipples, arms, and shoulders with oil or grease. In the morning, if her breasts were of greenish color, this was proof of pregnancy.

Human milk and watermelon test

A woman had to drink a mixture of watermelon and human milk. If she vomited, she was pregnant.

The preciseness of the Egyptian pregnancy test based on barley and wheat seeds was remarkably high. Especially if we consider the ancient Egyptians invented the test over 3,000 years ago.


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