Medicine in the Ancient World Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

6).

In ancient Mesopotamia -- according to the Indiana University (IU) -- there were two kinds of medical practitioners; the "ashipu" was also called a "sorcerer" and one of his jobs was to give a diagnosis of the medical problem. He was also accountable to determine "which god or demon was causing the illness" (IU), and to figure out if the illness resulted from "some error or sin on the part of the patient." The curing of the patient also fell into the hands of the ashipu; he used charms and spells designed to push the spirit out of the body that had caused the problem in the first place (IU). When the situation called for it, the ashipu referred his patient to the other kind of medical practitioner, the asu, a specialist in herbal remedies who also knew how to treat wounds. The asu used three "fundamental techniques: washing, bandaging, and making plasters"; the plasters were prepared by heating plant resin or animal fat with alkali (IU).

The world's first physician? According to a book by Michael Woods and Mary Boyle Woods, before there were doctors, ancient people treated themselves and their families -- or they "relied on magician or healers with no formal medical training" (Woods, et al., 2000, p. 24). A healer might typically be a farmer or shepherd tending flocks, and medicine would be just a part-time job, the author continues. But the first physician in the world, reportedly, came along near Cairo in 2650 BC, a man by the name of Imhotep, Woods explains. Dr. William Osler (who died in 1919), a Canadian doctor, wrote that Imhotep was: "…the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity" (Woods, p. 24). Imhotep was a chancellor (main assistant) to the pharaoh Zoser, and was better known as an engineer and architect (he reportedly designed the first pyramid in Egypt, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara). it's interesting that history records Imhotep as the first doctor but he is best known as the architect of a pyramid. Peseshet was reportedly the first female physician in Egypt (2500 BC), Woods explains.

Conclusion: While many of the remedies used in ancient civilizations would not be considered appropriate today in modern American society, there are certainly applications from that ancient world that are pertinent to today's medical milieu. For example, in ancient Egypt, the most effective salve for healing scrapes and cuts was made of honey, grease, and lint. "It really did work," writes Woods. Indeed, modern scientists understand that honey can "destroy bacteria, which explains why honey doesn't spoil in beehives." Perhaps the modern medical world could take a few cues from the ancient world. Certainly it is important for all ancient manuscripts that record what medicines and practices were used should be fully transcribed and understood.

Works Cited

Indiana University. "Medicine in Ancient Mesopotamia." Retrieved March 11, 2011, from http://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/meso.HTM.

Lascaratos, J., and Poulacou-Rebelacou, Effie. "The Roots of Geriatric Medicine: Care of the Aged in Byzantine Times (324-1453 AC). Gerontology, Vol. 46 (2000): 2-6.

Nutton, Vivian. Sciences of Antiquity. London: Psychology Press, 2004.

Pain, Stephanie. "The World's First Pharmacists." New Scientist. 196.2634,…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Indiana University. "Medicine in Ancient Mesopotamia." Retrieved March 11, 2011, from http://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/meso.HTM.

Lascaratos, J., and Poulacou-Rebelacou, Effie. "The Roots of Geriatric Medicine: Care of the Aged in Byzantine Times (324-1453 AC). Gerontology, Vol. 46 (2000): 2-6.

Nutton, Vivian. Sciences of Antiquity. London: Psychology Press, 2004.

Pain, Stephanie. "The World's First Pharmacists." New Scientist. 196.2634, (2007): 40-43.

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