Confirming a suspected pregnancy is a concern as old as humanity itself, and throughout history people have found all kinds of solutions for it. Many of them, like the Greek onion method, today seem completely absurd to us; However, the ancient Egyptians knew a surprisingly ingenious technique … and effective.
In fact, it is not surprising that this peculiar pregnancy test continued to be used at least until the 1970s , always bearing in mind that it is already documented in a 3,500-year-old treatise on nephrology found in Egypt.
Wheat and barley
The operation of the test is simple. All that was needed was a handful of wheat seeds and a handful of barley seeds . The woman, then, had to urinate on them for several days.
One of the most surprising things is that this method not only allowed us to know if the woman was pregnant, but also reported the sex of the future baby: if the wheat germinated, it meant that it was a child and if the barley did so, a girl . By elimination, when no seed germinated, pregnancy could be ruled out.
There are a couple of elements that intuitively indicate that this test could be more than just an old superstition. The first is the fact that it is based on urine (as we know, it is also the basis of the most common modern tests because it contains hormones that can give us the desired information) and the second is its survival through the millennia. However, in the 1960s a team of researchers from the American National Institute of Health proved the effectiveness of the Egyptian method.
To do this, they watered different groups of seeds of both cereals with urine from pregnant women, non-pregnant women and men. What they observed is that the predictions of the Egyptians were fulfilled in 70% of the cases
Of course, the current methods have a higher reliability , so we can say that this old trick is obsolete. However, it teaches a valuable lesson about the importance of not underestimating past civilizations, their knowledge, and their cultural richness.