OCR GCSE Medicine Through Time The Greeks.

Greek Medicine from the OCR schools History Project A text book.


Greece From 1000Bc - c150Bc


  • Medical ideas spread vastly:Ancient Greece colonized not only in Greece and its surrounding islands but in Turkey , Albania, Spain and Africa. They in default shared: language & culture which made it easier for ideas to spread.(war)
  • Medical knowledge grew:Before 450Bc they had supernatural beliefs about the gods causing the seasons to change. However, 600-300bc was the time where the city states of Greece became rich. Due to money and war they spent less time working and more time to study philosophy and science.
  • Rational thinking grew: Hippocrates in 430bc began to write books and developed the theory of the Four Humours & clinical observation.
  • More books were written: This made logical medical treatment available to other doctors.
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Asclepios and Temple Medicine

Asclpions continued superstious medical ideas as the people who went there believed that they would be healed in the night by the God Asclepius

What you could do in an asclepios:

  • Make offerings to the gods
  • Sllep inan abtion in the hope to be cured by asclepios
  • Bathe to purifiy themselves (continunity from the Eygptian period)
  • Ointments for the parts of the body with the symptoms.
  • Exercise, sleep and relax.

This helped for minor injuries/illnesses theraputically but not on most of the major illnesses, although it was the first form of public health and one would pay a very low fee to get in which made it affordable for most classes. It helped to promote a healthy lifestyle as greek doctors believed in the importance of keeping healthy.

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Keeping Healthy & Alexandria

Hippocratic books advised regular exercise and healthy eating including recommended amounts of exercisee done a day however this would have been directed to the rich as the poor wouldn't have had the time for the long hours of exercise.


  • In 332BC Alexander The Great Founded Alexandria in which housed the great library with a wealth of medical, philosophical and mathematic books of famous doctors.
  • Dissection was only allowed in Alexandria where some criminals on death row would be dissected alive to better ynderstand the organ systems.
  • It was famous for its study in surgery however instead of creating new theoreis many continued the theories of Hippocrates.
  • People studying to be doctors usually had to  take the Hippocratic oath.
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  • Created the theory of the Four humours based on Aristoles theory that the body was made out of the four elements. However,  Hippocrates said that the body was made up of four liquids : Yellow bile, Black bile, Blood and Phlegm  and one will become ill if there is too much of one liquid (humour). 
  • This theory was later linked to the seasons through observation in winter one has too much phlegm or has a fever because of the flu, so to balance the humours doctors would bleed the patient as they linked the blood to being hot.
  • Clinical observation which helped doctors to understand and record the nature of diseases.
  • Clincal observation involved



  • Surgery was dangerous in the Greek times as they knew little about the body.
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