Lecture 1 History of medicine as a science, its subject of studying. Medicine in primitive society (3 million – 5000 B. C.). PLAN. 1. Introduction to History of Medicine. 2. Stages in the Development of Medicine 3. Medicine of Primitive Society.
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Life of existing prehistoric (aboriginal) societies
Magic and Religion
Magic and Religion
Various other measures
Cleaning and treating wounds by cautery (burning or searing tissue), poultices, and sutures.
Resetting dislocations and fractures.
Using splints to support or immobilize broken bones.
Laxatives and enemas to treat constipation and other digestive ills.
Narcotic and stimulating plant extracts (digitalis, a heart stimulant extracted from foxglove).
Setting of Bones, Fractures and Dislocations
Trephining, a remedy for demons, insanity, epilepsy, and headache.
In addition to magic, spells, prayers, and charms, shaman and healers often used signature, or symbolic, items to treat their patients. These signature treatments included things like drinking the blood of a warrior to increase strength or eating leaves shaped like body organs to cure a disease. Sometimes, through chance, these signatures worked. When they did, the medicine men, or shamans, would pass the information to the next generation of priests. Digitalis, morphine, quinine, and ephedrine are all modern medicines that have been passed down to us from prehistoric signature practice.
A scarred skull demonstrates evidence of trephination, a surgical technique in which holes were drilled in the patient’s skull to relieve intracranial pressure caused by head trauma. (Israel Antiquities Authority)
There is no actual record of when the use of plants for medicinal purposes first started, although the first generally accepted use of plants as healing agents were depicted in the cave paintings discovered in the Lascaux caves in France, which have been Radiocarbon dated to between 13,000 - 25,000 BCE.
Over time and with trial and error, a small base of knowledge was acquired within early tribal communities. As this knowledge base expanded over the generations, tribal culture developed into specialized areas. These 'specialized jobs' became what are now known as healers or shamans.
This gilded bronze ear was presented to the Asklepion at Pergamum by a woman named Fabia Secunda, who had in made “for the god Asklepios because the ear was healed in a dream.”
This first-century A.D. relief of a leg was dedicated by a man named Tycheas as “a thank-offering to Asklepios and Hygeia” at the Asklepion on the island of Melos, Greece. Bridgeman Art Library
A 2.5 millimeter bronze wire (indicated by an arrow) in this tooth’s canal is evidence of early dentistry. Discovered in a mass grave at Horvat En Ziq, a small Nabatean fortress in the northern Negev desert in Israel, the incisor contains one of the earliest known fillings, dating to about 200 B.C.E. (Israel Antiquities Authority)
This array of bronze surgical instruments, from a private collection in Jerusalem, dates from 40 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. and includes spoons used to scrape out wounds (lower right), a forked probe (among the spoons), knife and scalpel handles (center, their iron blades have disintegrated), spatula probes for working in wounds (lower left), forceps (upper left), hooks used to hold the skin back (left of center), and cyathisconele, cupped tools used to clean wounds (top center).(Zev Radovan)
Archaeology and Examination of Artefacts
Compare with existing prehistoric societies
Could be Surprisingly Healthy
Fit and Active lifestyle
Eat fresh food
Little Pollution or Dirt
Move to new camps
Low Population Density
Little exposure to animals
When humans settled down to grow crops and raise animals their health began to get worse.
Can you list why this may have been the case?