Ancient Egyptians were able to determine whether a woman was pregnant or not by using two ingredients: barley, and wheat.
According to a text written on papyrus around 1400 B. C. E, pregnancy tests were very much a thing then as they are now, and the way women found out if they were pregnant or not was quite genius. It appears that we have quite a lot more in common with ancient Egyptians than one would think, especially when it came to finding out if a woman was expecting or not.
Many will scoff at ancient medicinal practices, but ancient Egyptian astrology was truly a cutting edge technology. Recently, several unpublished ancient Egyptian medical texts found in the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection at the University of Copenhagen Denmark revealed that pregnancy tests used grains such as barley and wheat to determine if a woman was pregnant.
According to these papyrus texts found around 1400 B.C.E, in order for a woman to determine whether she was expecting or not, she had to urinate in two different bags, one of which contained barley and the other wheat. Similar to our pregnancy tests of today, if either bag at the time began to sprout after being peed on, the woman would be able to know for sure that she was pregnant and could begin to plan accordingly. This method may sound simple, but it doesn’t stop there!
The “test” would also allow women to know the sex of the child depending on which grain would begin to sprout first. According to HowStuffWorks, if the barley sprouted first, the baby would be a boy, and if the wheat sprouted first, it would be a girl. Talk about innovation! Although this sounds too good to be true, the National Institute of Health underwent a study in 1963 to see if this method is at all accurate, and discovered that it was able to determine pregnancy about 70 percent of the time.
Although the method was not accurate in determining the sex of the child, it did, in fact, show whether a woman was pregnant or not. Although we don’t recommend anyone to use the barley or wheat method as the only tool to find out if you are pregnant, we think it’s definitely a neat practice.