Mediceine through time

Breakdown of key ideas

  • Created by: Emily O
  • Created on: 31-05-11 17:33

Prehistoric Medicine


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Causes and cures of disease

Causes and cures of disease

  • Prehistroic people believed that disease was caused by evil sprits and curses by which doctors.
  • They had limited knowledge of basic anatomy gained from hunting. TREPANNING was used probably to release "evil sprits"
  • Magic rituals were performed by medicince man to cure illness. Hair nails excrement were buried to warn off evil spirts and charms were carried to protect themselves.
  • Herbs were used as medicine and they cuold set simple breaks in bones

How do we know? Cave panitings, skelwtal remains and by studing tribes such as the Aborigines who still live a similar existence.

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Surgery and Anatomy

Surgery and Anatomy

Pre history- means before the development of writing, this lack of evidence means it can be difficult for us to br certain about what happend during this period.

We base much of our understanding on studing other groups of people whos civilisations have changed little over thousands of years such as the Austration Aborigines. We believe they have very little anatomical or surgical knowledge.

One surgical procedure that we know was carried out successfully was that of TREPHINATION. This means to drill a hole in the skull. Prehistoric people probably did this to release evil spirits.

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Public Health

No real Public Health Measures in place!!

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Egythian Medicine


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Causes and Cures

What did they know?- They Egythians had a detailed knowledge of the arrangement and shape of the internal organs due to their belief in the afterlife. They removed the internal organs, but knew little of how they worked.

Causes and Cures

  • The believed in Sekhmet the war goddess who was thought to cause illness. The Egytians still beleived in evil sprits. To cure illness and religious rituals to please Sekhmet were carried out. People wore charms and amulets.
  • Some people began to look for more natural cures. They got their ideas from observing the river nile, they believed illness was caused by blocked channels were treated by purging the body using laxatives. Herbal cures also used and they could set simple breaks and remove boils and tummors from the surface.
  • Egythian writing on paprus mean doctors could record and communicate their ideas.
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The Egyptians knew about: Heart, lungs, liver, brain, venins and arteries.

BUT Crucially there is no evidence that they knew about what each part did e.g they didn't know that the heart was like a Pump.

Anatomy- No diddections on humans, they got much of their anatomical knowledge from treating wounded soldiers, Some of their knowledge came from removing organs during the embalming process.

Surgery- New better bronze istruments were made. Simple external surgery carried out. 

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Public Health

No real Public Health measures in Place!!

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Cause and Cures

Greeks continued to believe that illness was caused by the Gods. They dedicated temples to the Asclepious, the God of healing. Asclepious would hopefully bring a cure.

Some began to search for rational causes. HIPPOCRATES puts forward the idea theory of the four hummours. Hippocrates related the hummours to the seasons and tried to keep them in balance. He also put forward the idea of the hippocratic oath and the the need to study symptoms and record findings.

Many Greeks began to relize the need for cleanliness, a heathly diet and exercise. Doctors were aware of a need for cleanliness in medical matters.

Greek Surgeons developed good technigues for setting broken bones and also, in extreme cases, amputation however, very few operations were done inside the body. Some alcohlic drinks and soportfic herbs have been used to try and stop pain.  HUMAN DISSECTION WAS ONLY ALLOWED IN THE ALEXANDRIA.

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ANATOMY - ARISTOTLE- he argued that the brain and the heart were the most important organs in the body.


  • No effective anaesthetic.
  • They could set broken bones and amputate limbs.
  • They could also drian lungs. However there was a very little internal surgery.
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Public Health

No real Public Health Measures in Place!!!

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Causes and Cures

The romas adopted many ideas of the Greeks. They continued to believe in religious causes and cures by worshipping Ascepious. Dorctors promoted excirese and GALEN'S THEORY OF OPPOSITES (e.g in winter eat hot food)

Galen's ideas were to last over 1000 years. He correctly identified that the brian, not the heart controled the body and that veins and arteries carrried blood. But by dissecting animals he got many things wrong e.g he said that the human jaw bone was made of two bones.

Important Factors

  •  RELIGION- Galen's Ideas were supported by the powerful church
  • WAR- Roman doctors were able to study the anatomy of wonded men. Each legion in the army had a doctor and medical orederlies.
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Roman Surgery & Anatomy

 SURGERY- Wonded soldiers gave Roman surgeons plenty of experience of dealing with surgery.

ANATOMY- Cladius Galen made a lot of important dicoveries such as the brian controls the heart speach and both veins and arteries carried blood. He did this through his work at the Alexandria and by dissecting animals such as the pigs however beacuse he could not dissect humans, he had to assume that they were the same as animals. Consequently he made errors.

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Public Health

The Romans still didn;t know what caused disease. The had to take public health seriously beacuse Rome was so big. Without it, Rome would have be horribel to live in they needed swewes etc.

Why was Public health so important to the Romans?

  • The Romans believe that dirty water and conditions were a danger to health.
  • They wanted to show off their facilites.
  • They believed that conguered people would be kept happy by good public health schemes.
  • A strong and health Army was essential to defend the empire.

Publich health measures

  • Baths for sociable Cleaning
  • Aqueducts to supply clean water
  • Latrines and sewers to remove waste
  • Hopesials to keep Army healthy
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