OCR, History, Medicine, Through, Time, Unit 1 Prehistoric Medicine

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  • Created on: 26-08-10 20:00
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Prehistoric thus couldn't write and so no written records remain.
Knowledge is based on archaeological discoveries or observations of
modern pre-literate societies such as the Aborigines.
Cause and Cure of Disease
Illness which had an obvious cause were treated with common sense.
Broken arms were encased in clay (a prehistoric plaster cast) and cuts were
covered with animal fat and bound with skin.
Inexplicable illness such as epilepsy was believed to be caused by spirits.
Either an evil spirit had taken over a body or a person had lost its spirit to
an enemy using a `death bone' which would steal a spirit.
Healing amulets were also tied over painful parts of the body.
Trephined Skulls show that surgery did happen. Bone growth around the
trephined skull shows that patients did survive. A likely suggestion is that
trephination was conducted in order to release evil spirits.
Public Health
Nomadic so public health and sanitation was no issue as they didn't settle in
one place.
Medical Profession
Had Medicine Men who were primitive attempts at specialist doctors. They
attempted to diagnose and offered spiritual cures. Although they would not
have been very successful it shows the very beginning of a medical
Nature of the evidence ­ either archaeological discoveries or observations from
Aborigines, as prehistoric people could not write (no written records).
Its values and problems ­ Aborigine people may not be similar to prehistoric tribes.
Evidence may be hoaxes or wrongly interpreted.
Beliefs in spirits and treatments used by medicine men ­ spirits controlled
everything including disease and so many cures were based around spiritual cures.
Medicine Men were primitive attempts at doctors although they had little specialist

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Practical knowledge and resulting treatments ­ learnt a little about medicine from
trial and error. Passed on successful natural/common sense cures such as dealing with
broken bones and attempted operations such as trephination which were in fact
useless.…read more


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