Prehistory - Medicine Through Time

For the AQA Medicine Through Time course, including Surgery and Anatomy, Disease and Infection, Public Health and Factors :)

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  • Prehistory
    • Surgery and Anatomy
      • Trephining
        • Cut holes in skulls with pieces of filnt
        • Not entirely sure why this was done, but possibly for the following reasons
          • Release evil spirits
          • Repair fractured skulls
          • Relieve pressure inside skulls
        • Some people survived due to evidence of bone re-growth around the hole
          • Some other treatments
            • Clay for setting broken bones
            • Cover in tree sap for burns
            • Pads of mud for cuts
    • Disease and Infection
      • Mostly Medicine Men and trial and error. Evidence from cave art, modern day nomadic tribes and archaeology
      • Healers
        • Medicine men: the religious and spiritual healers of the tribe, who were the people who most likely to have performed operations. Information was passed down by word of mouth, as there was no written language.
      • Explanations
        • Supernatural: evidence from the Aborigines tells us that disease with an unknown cause that was thought to be because of an evil spirit trapped in your body or your own spirit leaving your body
        • Natural: they knew the cause of common sense problems such as cuts, burns and breaks. Although linked to supernatural, as infection from a cut could cause an evil spirit to enter your body.
      • Treatments
        • Supernatural: medicine men would perform prayers, rituals and chants to expel evil spirits from the body. Chants would be born to scare away evil spirits.
        • Natural: some common sense cures found by trial and error, for example use of herbs to teat coughs and colds. Their close association with nature would mean that they had a detailed knowledge of the properties of plants, flowers and herbs for example, inhaling steam from tea tree leaves helped coughs
    • Public Health
      • Small nomadic groups so very few permanent settlements, so no problems with waste associated with towns
      • Keeping Healthy
        • A physical lifestyle mean that most people had strong leg muscles and had good fitness. Lack of sugar in the diet meant most people had few cavities in their teeth. Life expectancy was much lower than today, especially in women
    • Factors
      • Chance
        • They had knowledge of herbs for medicine,
      • Religion
        • Medicine men/supernat-ural


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