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Who Would Want to Be the Shepherd of the Royal Anus?

What is the weirdest job you could list on your resume? It probably doesn’t hold a candle to “Shepherd of the Royal Anus.” Despite what you may think, having that job was an honor and not the butt of anyone’s jokes.

The medical practices of ancient Egypt were woven into the priesthood and were highly specialized. The medical practitioners limited their diagnoses and treatments to one part of the body. Physicians were thus designated as Royal Guardian of the Right Arm, Royal Keeper of the Left Foot, etc.

Bringing up the rear, so to speak, was the Nehru Pehut, which translates as “Shepherd of the Royal Anus. This exalted practitioner was charged with making sure that everything worked out in the end for Pharaoh. As such, he would prescribe and administer rectal medications and enemas.

Historical accounts record several individuals who shepherded assorted royal tushes over the years. Among them were Khufu and his successor Ir-en-akhty, who lived during the First Intermediate Period (2181 BC – 2040 BC).

Khufu was evidently an overachiever and is recorded not only as the Shepherd of the Royal Anus but also the pharaoh’s dentist.

Distressingly, there is not much in the record to tell us what he thought about the practice of handwashing.


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