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Transcript of Ancient Medicine
how much of a role did religion play
in the healing process and the process
what enabled people to
increase their knowledge?
Many physicians kept journals or wrote on papyrus.
The texts were then used to teach others. Many physicians also
traveled, spreading their knowledge and acquiring new techniques.
was using religion as a basis
for medicine successful and was there any validity in allowing Gods or Deities to heal the sick or injured?
In ancient times medical practitioners faced the challenge of stimulating the recuperative powers of the afflicted patient into action. Bodily processes were aroused and focused through touching the patient and lifting the faith of the patient.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medicine in ancient rome.htm
how have ancient techniques
and writings influenced medicine of the modern day
why were some societies more advanced
than others when examining medical techniques
When certain societies removed superstition from the science of medicine, they began to understand and observe the functions of the body. Instead of relying upon Gods or Deities to heal the sick or injured, physicians used practical methods to heal. They began to turn medicine into a science rather than and art or religious sanction. This enabled societies to move forward and advance their knowledge of medicine and healing.
Among the first to use herbs and drugs as medicine
Also knew how to set and splint broken and fractured bones with such advanced techniques that they are similar to the methods many modern doctors use
There was no knowledge of anesthesia and so to render a patient unconscious for surgery they were hit over the head with a mallet
Practiced methods of surgery, although they were more advanced than the Egyptians
A collection of laws set up in "The Code of Hammurabi" in about 1800 BC. This listed penalties that had to be paid by unsuccessful surgeons.
- developed the concept of the four humors.
- the four humors were blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm, which were believed to be balanced in a healthy person and one fell ill when these fluids were disturbed
Hippocrates, the 'father of medicine', was one of the most famous Greek physicians who separated medicine from superstition. He disassociated facts from fiction, histories from lies, healing art from philosophy, and Gods from men. The relationship between Hippocrates and his patients was dictated by human, rather than religious concepts and by ethical principle "benefit and do no harm to the patient".
Hippocrates also developed the Hippocratic oath, which is still well-respected by modern physicians
Various superstitious practices of ancient civilizations seem strange to us, but some of the drugs and therapies used have been rediscovered and have proved to be of great value.
The concept of the ancient healing Gods focuses upon the idea of a mind-body relationship.
Hippocrates believed that body and mind are a unity and that affecting one ultimately affects the other.
The earliest definite knowledge of Egyptian medicine has been obtained from medical papyrus manuscripts from the 12th Dynasty, about 2000BC. It stated that it was the duty of the Pharaohs to keep their subjects healthy.
"Eventually all the great medical centers were located at the chief capitals along the Nile. The shrines were depositories of medical lore, and the ancient traditions are confirmed by the lists of diseases and their cures. On the walls of sanctuaries were inscriptions and tablets in commemoration of miraculous cures with statues and steles erected by former patients in grateful recognition of cures effected by the divinity."
- Walter Addison
"Healing methods in the ancient days consisted of religious rites, ceremonies and special formulas which brought forth the mysterious, miraculous powers of deities and other supernatural beings. The healing theme cantered around the idea of expelling the unseen, malicious actions which caused disease. Appeals to the gods for the cure of disease were made orally or in writing."
- Walter Addison Jayne, M.D.
The Egyptians assumed that the body was divided into 36 parts andeach part was under the sway of a certain God.
Remedies were given to assist the spoken formulas, with many remedies given to patients during their dreams by the Gods.
Time has proven the value of many of the modalities that were once employed by the Ancient Egyptians such as caster oil, aloe, mint, myrrh, cooper, lead, salt, cedar and opium, which are still in pharmaceutical use.
There is do doubt that the aspect of the mind in the healing process is of strong consideration.
The Greeks believed that disease and death were ascribed to superhuman factors.
The Greeks looked to the power of the Gods for healing, customary rituals,hymns of praise, prayers and sacrifice.
Greek curses consisted of two main methods, direct and indirect.
Direct healing was through divine intervention. Very commonly by the transmission of the divine power through a sacred object, healing power of the gods. Marinos tells of Procious, the philosopher, who was suffering from arthritis, and had covered the part with a cloth. A sparrow which was sacred to Asklepios, plucked the cloth away and the disease with it.
Indirect cures were obtained by following directions received through dreams and visions. Therapies included mild and innocent purgatives, roots, herbs,diets, fasts, baths, rubbing with ointments and gymnastics.
Gaining the power to heal oneself was often used by touching the image of a God or his altar.
Psychology played an important role in the healing process.
There is an important place today for the theories of healing utilized by the ancient civilizations. Many ancient civilizations contributed to the ideas and methods of modern medicine. Without the practice and experimentation of ancient physicians, modern medicine would not be what it is presently.
Religion was one of the most important factors of ancient medicine. Many societies placed their trust in their respective Gods or Deities to heal their sick and injured. But this was also used in conjunction with practical methods of healing. Putting so much trust in supernatural powers was important as psychology plays a major roll in the healing process. The mind is a powerful tool to use when dealing with the sick and injured. Without appealing to Gods and Deities, medical methods of cure were seen as irrelevant. It was believed that without divine intervention, one would not heal or be healthy.
Egyptian physicians are known to have performed some minor surgical operations.
Egyptians used antiseptic to aid the healing process, a major development in medical practice. They used Willow leaves and bark which are known to decrease the likelihood of infection.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus was chiefly concerned with surgery and described 48 surgical cases of wounds of the head, neck, shoulders, breast and chest. The papyrus listed manifestations, followed by prescriptions to every individual case. it included a vast experience in fractures that can only be acquired at a site where accidents were extremely numerous, as during the building of the pyramids. The Edwin Smith Papyrus also shows the suturing of non-infected wounds with a needle and thread.
The Egyptians used medications to treat ailments and they dilated urethral strictures with reeds. This was the earliest non-surgical intervention ever applied in history.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus contains a list of instruments, including lint, swabs, bandage, adhesive plaster, support, surgical stitches and cauterization.
Pain alleviation to allow surgery was known to ancient Egyptian physicians. Patients were sedated by opiates. Local anesthesia was also known, where water was mixed with vinegar over Memphite stone, resulting in the formation of C02 with its known analgesic effect. This is not too far from modern cryo-analgesia.
Using Gods and Deities as the basis for healing the sick and injured proved to be very effective in the ancient world. Cognitive suggestion can be a powerful tool when dealing with the sick and injured. This meant that by having someone believe in the god that would cure them, they would be aiding themselves and helping their body to recuperate. Although this was not the menas of ancient physicians, it was still a successful way of healing.
Most information available to modern scholars comes from cuneiform tablets. There are no useful pictorial representations that have survived in ancient Mesopotamian art, nor has a significant amount of skeletal material yet been analyzed.
The largest surviving such medical treatise from ancient Mesopotamia is known as "Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognoses." The diagnostic treatise is organized in head to toe order with separate subsections covering convulsive disorders, gynecology and pediatrics.
Mesopotamian diseases are often blamed on preexisting spirits. However, each spirit was held responsible for only one of what we would call a disease in any one part of the body.
Also, it was recognized that various organs could simply malfunction, causing illness. Gods could also be blamed as a higher level for causing named diseases or malfunctioning of organs. It can also be shown that the plants used in the treatment were generally used to treat the symptoms of the disease, and were not the sorts of things generally given for magical purposes to such a spirit.
The medical texts are essentially rational and some of the treatments, for example those designed for excessive bleeding are essentially the same as modern treatments for the same condition.
Presumably specific offerings were made to a particular god or ghost when it was considered to be a causative factor, but these offerings are not indicated in the medical texts.
The first type of medical practitioner is an ashipu, often called a 'sorcerer'. The most important role of the ashipu was to diagnose the ailment. The ashipu determined which god or demon was causing the illness. The ashipu could attempt to heal the patient by means of charms and spells that were designed to entice away or drive out the spirit causing the disease.
The second type of healer is called an asu. An asu was a specialist in herbal remedies. When treating wounds an asu generally relied on three fundamental techniques: washing, bandaging and making plasters.
Beyond the role of the ashipu and the asu, there were other means of procuring health care. One of these alternatives was the Temple of Gula. Gula was often envisioned in canine form and was one of the more significant god of healing. The temples are thought to have been sites for the diagnosis of illness. They were also libraries that held many useful medical texts.
Outside of the home other important sites for religious healing were nearby rivers. The Mesopotamian believed that the rivers had the power to care away all evil substances and forces that were causing the illness. Sometimes a small hut was set up for the afflicted person either near the home or on the river.
The Ancient Romans learned a great deal from the Ancient Greeks. They used the ideas of the Greeks but they did not simply copy them. Greek ideas they found impractical they ignored and it seems that the Romans were more keen on things that would lead to the direct improvement of the quality of life of the people in their huge empire.
When empires expanded and took over new land and peoples, the knowledge of a previous society or culture became privy to them and the technology and knowledge of those people was studied, thus increasing their knowledge. As the Roman empire expanded into Greece, many Greek doctors came to Italy and Rome. Some of these were prisoners of war and could be bought by wealthy Romans to work in a household. It is known that a number of these men bought their freedom and set up their own practices in Rome itself.
The Romans were great believers in a healthy mind equaling a healthy body. There was a belief that if you kept fit you would be more able to combat an illness.
"A person should put aside some part of the day for the care of his body. He should always make sure that he gets enough exercise especially before a meal."
The Romans did believe that illnesses had a natural cause and that bad health could be caused by bad water and sewage. Those who worked for the Romans needed good health as did their soldiers. In this sense, the Romans were the first civilization to introduce a program of public health for everyone regardless of wealth.
Roman cities, villas and forts were built in what were considered healthy places. They knew not only where to build but also where not to build.
"There should be no marshes near buildings, for marshes give off poisonous vapors during the hot period of the summer. At this time, they give birth to animals with mischief-making stings which fly at us in thick swarms."
Personal hygiene was also a major issue in the day-to-day life of Romans. Their famous baths played an important part in this. The baths were used by both rich and poor. Most Roman settlements contained a public bath of some sort. Even people who were sick were encouraged to bathe as it was felt that this would help them to regain their good health.
The importance of hygiene also extended as far as military hospitals which had drainage and sewage systems attached to them. Quite clearly the Romans believed that an injured soldier would get back to health quicker recovering in a hygienic environment.
Galen of Pergamon was a prominent ancient Greek physician, whose theories dominated Western medical science for well over a millennium. By the age of 20, he had served for four years in the local temple as a therapeutes of the god Asclepius. Although Galen studied the human body, dissection of human corpses was against Roman law, so instead he used pigs, apes, and other animals.
The Romans seemed to concentrate on more preventative measures like hygiene and fitness as the understood the connection it had to health and illness.
Early man was convinced that external, supernatural forces exercised a determining action, either favorable or harmful, on his life. Because supernatural forces were more threatening than natural phenomena, the caregiver was first a priest and secondarily a physician.
Magic belongs to all people, and magicians constitute the oldest professional class in the evolution of human society. Religious ideas differ from magical beliefs essentially in their means: religion does not aim to constrain supernatural beings but may invoke their favor through prayer, invocations, pious acts and numerous other means. However, the will or the decision of the conscious willing divinity cannot be constrained in any way.
The Greeks had many gods, and most of them played a role in producing and curing disease. Thus an extensive part of ancient Greek medicine was closely connected with religion.
In primitive societies, the roles of doctor, witch doctor and priest were, and are, commonly united in the same person.
A shaman is one who voluntarily is possessed and through whom the spirit speaks,exercises and prophesies, as in present-day Siberia, Chile and South Africa. Orpheus was probably the first Greek shaman. He was a healer, he loved music, he prophesied and fulfilled the best traditions of shamanism: he was sent by God to protect man from diseases. "He wandered Greece and bewitched men, beasts and plants and moved even the rocks, while the rivers halted in their courses to listen to him." Here is a clear indication of supernatural orientation, which was the fundamental element in primitive medicine.
Ancient Greek medicine illustrates the coexistence of medicine and religion before the christian era.
In Homeric times, medicine and religion gradually became established in temples, sanctuaries and other priestly retreats.
Ancient Greek medicine derived knowledge from many older sources. Because of their geographical location, the Greeks were exposed to the influence of Egyptian, Babylonian, Mesopotamian, Phoenician and Cretan civilizations. Greeks also learned much from ancient Jewish medicine, especially in the fields of hygiene, prevention and prophylaxis.
There is no discovery in medical science that does not have some roots in ancient Greek medicine. Modern medicine can still learn from the medicine of ancient Greece.