Prehistoric Medicine


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  • Prehistoric medicine
    • Prehistory is defined as the time before written records
      • The people of prehistoric societies could not write and so, could not pass on a body of medical knowledge
    • Cave paintings and other prehistoric artwork indicate that prehistoric people believed in a spiritual world
      • Likely that their explanations of illness would be based on evil spirits, and illnesses would require spiritual/religious cures
    • Archaeology tells us that our prehistoric ancestors were mostly nomadic hunter-gatherers, although agriculture developed before the earliest written records
      • Hunter-gatherers lived in small-extended family groups and moved from place to place following game and looking for edible plants/resources
    • Aborigines
      • Believed spirits had created the world and believed that every person had his own spirit. If your spirit left your body, you fell ill. If an evil spirit found its way into your body, you fell ill
      • Visited the 'medicine man' if ill = had the ability to both cure and inflict illnesses
      • Wore charms to ward off the evil spirits that could cause disease
      • Used herbs and plants to treat sickness
    • Trephining is the cutting of holes in people's heads to remove evil spirits from the body

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